“A specific point of view in understanding or judging things or events, especially one that shows them in their true relations to one another.”
“… The ability to see things in a true relationship.”
The waning beam of my headlamp cut a dim swath through the inky blackness, making an already graduate level desent downright spooky at times. The horns and cape of a trophy bighorn ram added weight to my pack and purpose to this excursion. Soaked in sweat, despite the chill of the night air and fresh snow on the ground, I worked my way down off the mountain and into the grasp of chokingly thick willows.
Bouldering down the steep pitch while fighting willows took the last of the strength from my legs and I found myself face down next to the raging mountain stream I’d been walking in.
With my resolve on life support, I struggled back to my feet and joined my partner, to finish off the trek to camp. One o’clock in the morning found us concluding our inglorious return to a cold camp on a wispy second wind. Thirty minutes later, meat and hide hung high in the trees, a raging fire cut through the frosty air, dry clothes were donned, and water was boiling for our dehydrated dinners.
Life seemed doable again, even thrilling, as if there was no other place on earth I’d rather be. My perspective had changed for the better, allowing me to enjoy and appreciate the “now”. Throughout the 16 mile pack out to the trailhead, involving horse wrecks, 50 mph winds, bone chilling cold, and snow, my attitude waxed and waned, but my perspective never changed. This was the adventure of a lifetime, and I relished the opportunity to work through its struggles.
I’ve had the good fortune to backpack into some of the most awe inspiring country you’ll ever see, and take some incredible animals on DIY hunts in the Rocky Mountain West. Scenarios I’d only previously seen on Wild Kingdom (holy cow, I’m getting old!) have unfolded in real time, right in front of me. Snow, rain, wind, cold, hunger and fatigue have all done their best to get me off the mountains and away from the treasures and memories they hold, but I’ve kept coming back. I’ve been able to maintain my perspective because I’ve known the amazing rewards that awaited. It wasn’t until my girls started getting older though, that a true shift in perspective took place.
The transition occurred after I opened a much-anticipated new release on backpack hunting public lands and scanned the book dedication. It said something like this:
“First and foremost I want to thank my wife….. There have been many times over the years that she has had to manage all of the household duties and take care of the kids while I have been off pursuing mule deer. For that I thank her.”
“Second, I would like to thank my children for being very understanding of me missing a lot of their school sporting events, etc. in order to spend more time hunting the high country.”
As I finished reading those words, something died inside of me. I respected this author greatly, and had anticipated the release of this book for months. But those few introductory words made me realize I was headed down the same road of time spent away from home, pursuing the “glories” of the high country at the expense of my family. Absorbing those two paragraphs, it felt as though I was reading a foreword to a book I would write in 10 or 15 years when my girls were gone and it was too late to go back and spend time with them.
My perspective wasn’t just changed that day; it was shattered and rebuilt into something better than I expected it could be. I’ve been taking all 3 of my little ladies on hunting trips since they were old enough to hold their heads upright in a backpack and have enjoyed all the time spent introducing them to the outdoors. Fortunately, I did something right, because despite all the time I’ve spent away from home, each of them has a passion for all things wild and love fishing, hunting, shooting, hiking and spending time with Dad.
I love the high country now more than ever and relish the time spent each fall, solo backpacking and hunting the wind blown ridges and lonely peaks of the Rocky Mountains. However, it comes in a distant second to spending time with family. Whether shopping or shooting, I dig the time spent with my wife and girls. (Although, if I had the choice between picking out a new Barbie or taking them to the range I know what my choice would be!)
Think again about perspective….”the ability to see things in a true relationship.”
Go deep, hunt hard, drink deeply of what the wilderness has to offer, and earn the right to kill trophy animals. Then go home, hug your wife and kiddos, and reflect on what’s really important. Perhaps your perspective will change too.
See you on the mountain.