I like being safe and comfortable. I like eating good food and watching a good movie. But sometimes you need to jump out of your comfort zone and expand the horizons of your experience.
Sleeping on the ground isn’t very comfortable. Sleeping on the ground in damp, cold weather is even less comfortable. I confirmed this during an overnight this past weekend. Yes, I know it’s obvious.
In an effort to develop relationships and contribute to my new neighborhood I joined the local Search and Rescue Squad. The pictures on their website looked cool and I thought it might be exciting and worthwhile. I like being outdoors and haven’t gotten myself lost in a while now so I figured why not.
Search and Rescue can mean different things in different places. The kind of searching and rescuing one might do in Massapequa, NY is probably different than the kind of searching and rescuing done in Flathead County, Montana. This point was made very clear to me this weekend.
Flathead County is the home of big mountains, lots and lots of undeveloped land with big, furry creatures that eat searchers. Every search and rescue squad around the country has their own set of environmental hazards, here, they can come on four legs. Sharp teeth aren’t the only thing to be careful of, hazard also comes in the form of weather. For example, there’s new snow on top of the Swan Mountains out our living room window. Yes, I know its June.
This past weekend I was part of a required course called SAR Basic. The goal is to teach newbies like me the very basics of not getting into trouble and how to survive if things went down hill and the rescuers had to spend a night out in the field. The course was given by a very experienced father/son team from a company called Emergency Response International. They did a fine job.
The weekend was really two parts, search procedures and survival. Here’s something to think about the next time you get lost in the dark forest. Even with what might be considered 100% coverage on the ground, you only have a 63% chance of getting found. Don’t get lost!
In a perfect world the searchers go out, spend some quality time in the mountains, find the lost soul and then all have a cold beer before going back to the couch to watch episodes of Mountain Men. If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news it is not a perfect world. In fact, it seems like whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Lesson one, it is better to be prepared.
I really had no great desire to sleep under a tree on a mountain, but its experiences like this that take us out of our norm. It’s the something new, the something different like this that expands our world and grows the things we can do. I made a fire using only sparks from a fire starter. OK, I also learned that petroleum jelly on a cotton ball lights off really well. I learned that dehydrated meals are edible. They are not good, but they are edible. I learned that being a senior citizen (as I now am) does not mean you stay home and drool.
I also re-appreciated my soft mattress and Kathleen’s Sunday morning French Toast.
Horizons only expand when you push them back. Most times that requires effort and, possibly, discomfort. I was the oldest guy on the mountain but my personal horizon is now broader. The sum of our lives is a combination of what we have done and those who we have met and laughed with along the way. Broadening horizons can take many forms, it doesn’t have to be a night on the mountain. Each of us can choose how to grow in our own way.
At sea, you never reach the horizon. Isn’t that cool?