By Elloria Lambert, Clark Fork High School Class of 2019
My most memorable outdoor experience took place my sophomore year of high school with my school’s outdoor experiential learning program. It was mid-November; the first snow had painted the wilderness white. I awoke Friday morning eagerly ready for an adventure! Knowing anything could happen I prepared myself with three layers of socks, 5 layers of clothing and enough snacks to feed an army. Although, I have never been a scout I take their motto to heart when it comes to being prepared. As I headed to school, the sky began to darken and opened up with an angry vengeance to make my once highly anticipated day now miserable. Though it was raining and ruining our beautiful first snow I kept a positive attitude.
As we arrived at our destination and hesitated to climb off the warm bus our instructors shared with us that today we would be learning how to build fires. I laughed thinking it was a joke. There was no possible way we would be building fires in this slushy snow-rain mix of a day. As we began the lesson, despite my many layers, the damp chill began to sink into our bones. As our teachers even struggled to get a fire going, the hype of the day quickly melted away with the new snow.
As we struggled in the morning to keep our spirits high, I knew we needed something to change this sad, wet day around. Instead of thinking of how cold or how wet we were I began to remind my fellow classmates of “where” we were and what we were doing. Though it may not be the best day in the outdoors it was still better than any other day sitting in a classroom. As we began to appreciate the beauty of the day the rain started to cease both outside and in our hearts. The clouds started to part as our positivity began to rise. Earlier in the year we learned a catchy tune, “shiver shake makes you feel great.” As we ran through the forest looking for dry materials to “make a fire” we chanted our song to warm our spirits and our bodies. Though we may not have successfully learned how to build a fire that day we learned so much more about ourselves.
When I am in the outdoors, I no longer desire to be inside but instead appreciate the experience. Even though there was no fire building this day a spark was ignited in my soul with a deep love for the outdoors. Being in the outdoors makes me feel whole and secure within myself. It has showed me who I am and where I fit into this puzzle of life. The outdoors takes care of me physically and mentally while I also take care of it. It is like a friend that never leaves you, a friend that will always listen to your sorrows and says just the right thing to restore your soul. When I see the life that it bestows, I know that I am a part of it.
For me, nature has become a part of me that I race to and yearn for every second of the day. It has showed me its love and beauty and given me the desire to mirror it in the world. The mountains aren’t contained by four walls but by a world of endless possibilities. That is what I love so much! No expectations, just true rawness. Without this day of struggle, I would have never been able to appreciate the little things life has to offer. I learned most of all that changing your outlook on life really changes everything.
Elloria’s essay was submitted to the 2019 Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness scholarship competition. Hers was judged best of Bonner County for 2019
Voices in the Wilderness is a monthly column written by your neighbors, friends and visitors in the vicinity of the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. Voices features memorable personal experiences in wild places. If you have an adventure tale based in untamed country (it doesn’t have to be local), write to firstname.lastname@example.org for guidelines, or just send it along.