Tag Archives: hiking

Foreign landscapes, familiar people

We’ve been living in Austin on and off for two years now, and I’ve felt a disconnect from the natural landscape largely due to the fact that it’s very foreign to me (I’m familiar with the northeast and northern California landscapes).

But even though I was biking everywhere in Austin, taking hikes, going swimming in the rivers and going camping, I still felt this painful disconnect.

“I live in an apartment complex!” I would sometimes say out loud to myself, in utter disbelief. I never knew I would live in an apartment complex!

That’s when I remembered that my connection to nature is not simply me and nature. It also involves OTHER PEOPLE.

And the best people to help me connect with nature, are… naturalists!

I’ve spent time at a few different eight shields wilderness schools (a model put in place by Jon Young), and find that the people that these schools attract are people who I feel very at home with.

I did some research and discovered that the Native Earth wilderness school is here in Bastrop, and got in contact with the owner of the school.

I went in for an interview, and will be getting involved with their different programs and be on hand to sub for their staff.

This week I went to spend time with some of the Native Earth instructors who are teaching summer camps for kids at McKinney Falls State Park.


I discovered some really special spots at the park that I hadn’t found on my own…


…and today I watched Chris (one of the instructors) work on a figure-4 trap with his kids and smash a lime beneath it!

(the lime represents a small mammal that you could then eat in a survival situation)

Check out the photo sequence:

Chris propping up the figure-4 trap
The figure-4 trap is balanced perfectly, and a lime is placed where the bait would be set up for a small mammal to discover
Using a stick, one of the kids gently tapped the inside part of the trap, where the animal would have bumped against it, resulting in the heavy stones and board crashing down
The aftermath. One of the kids had filled the lime with red food coloring for gory effect.

I’m glad to have found some like-minded people to spend time outside with, and look forward to learning more about the Texas landscape and survival techniques from them.

When Addison and I embark on our next bike trip—which will be across Mexico and Central America—I will feel better equipped, having some survival skills under my belt that are specific to this kind of region. 🙂

Thanks for reading!