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had split open and was running blood down into my left boot. You know how when you get a blister and at first it feels sticky, then warm, then wet, and then hurts? Well I started to feel all of those on the bottom of my OTHER foot.”


“You don’t think your old grandma ever had any adventures in her life?” I looked across the table at her and suddenly saw how much she resembled my husband.

I must have paused, because she said “Mom told me to ask you about your outdoor education story. So I won’t be nervous about my first overnight camping trip. I wasn’t expecting to hear about blood.”

“Honey, let me tell you. There was more than blood. This particular hike was intense and painful and brutal. It was part of our mandatory outdoor education class. For out of state transplants like me, the 30 mile hike in / 24 hour wilderness solo, allowed me to call myself a ‘true local’ – if I made it. I didn’t want to do it, I was forced to. You have to understand that this test was really different from anything that I expected or was used to. The trip was supposed to teach us about survival and brand me as a mountain girl. But the first thing I learned was to always be careful with what salesmen tell you. He said that the boots almost walk by themselves and that he never heard of anyone having any problems with them. By 10 miles, my feet never hurt so badly, thanks to those things.”

“Grandma. What else happened?”

“Well let me tell you. The blister and the wicked cramps in my legs both disappeared when I saw a huge, scary, hairy bear. I thought that I was hallucinating from the lack of water and food and the fact that I had a 50-pound pack on at 11,000 feet in 90 degree heat. No, there really was a bear there!” I looked at her, and her eyes widened. It’s not easy to amaze kids in 2062.

“All of us growing up in Aspen knew about bears. They are more afraid of you then you are of them. At least, that was what I told myself when it was 20 feet away from me. When I saw him I thought ‘if he eats me, I won’t have to do the last 20 miles of the hike or the 24-hour solo in the wilderness at the top of the pass.”

“What did you do?”

“I pulled out my five inch knife and ran right at him!”

“No way!”

“No, I’m only kidding. One look at my boots and he started howling like crazy.”

“He did???”

“No,” I said laughing. “One look at me and he took off into the trees, never to be heard from again.”

“Come on, grandma. I’m really scared about this camping trip. Be serious.”

“Everyone is forced to experience things out of their comfort zone from time to time. It is good for us. And it is ok to be afraid. Embrace the experience. Be positive. I understand how you feel, especially when it comes to camping, because of this particular trip that I took. It is hard to know in advance which life experiences will turn out to be special and rare. On your trip you will have friends and counselors there to help you and enjoy the time in a new environment together. That is something that I did not have on the solo portion of this adventure.

“After my patrol leader escorted me to my private solo camp site, my food and tent were taken away from me. I was left only with a plastic tarp, rope, a sleeping bag, a journal, and water. Once I was left alone, I felt completely overwhelmed. I pulled out my rope, a pocketknife, and my plastic tarp. I had no idea what to do with them, but I did know I needed to make myself a shelter before the sun went down. I took the rope and tied it around a tree and then walked about six feet to another tree and tied the other end of the rope around it. Then I took my plastic tarp and threw it over the rope. That left me with a triangle shaped tent-like structure. The only problem now was that I had to figure out a way to close all the openings. So, I began to look for some rocks. After a long search, I found about ten. I pulled one side of the plastic down, folded it, and put rocks on top to keep it from flying away. I didn’t have enough rocks so I went to look for more. And that’s when I fell into