Backcountry Coaching Expeditions Restore Order

Wouldn’t you like to know one of the greatest “aha-moments” from my Alaska backcountry coaching expeditions?

It was just this past summer. I was on one of my backcountry adventures with a client, we’ll call her Gina. At the time we were halfway up a mountain… Binoculars in hand, we scanned the forest opposite us.

Suddenly, Gina gasped, she’d caught movement. I turned by “binos” in the same direction and looked for myself. I saw movement too, then antlers swaying the goofy way only caribou antlers sway.

“I see… five mountain caribou.” Gina’s eyes filled with an almost childlike excitement, she really wanted to see the caribou up close… but they were about 3 miles away.

“You really wanna do it?” I asked.

“Absolutely.” Came her quick reply, she’d never seen a caribou up close before.
So we clambered down the mountainside and trekked.

And we slogged.

It was only three miles…

… but the whole way we had to slash and hack our way through thick brush and thickets… and then our path went up hill… steep uphill.

Then the rain came, and that didn’t make things easier.

Then the sleet came, making things just a bit more unpleasant (as is life on backcountry coaching expeditions).

It was tough, and I could tell Gina was struggling…

But we finally reached the crest of the hill and crawled on our bellies upwind of them to a small bump in the taiga.
With bated breath, we both poked our heads up for a better view… and there they were… just a few caribou casually hanging out on a snow patch… just a stone’s throw away from us.

“Wow! They’re so close!” she whispered at nearly shouting volume. (Which prompted curious glances from the caribou…)

It was a fun moment, exciting and memorable…

But it wasn’t a Backcountry Coaching Expeditions Hall of Fame “aha” moment…that comes later…

So, after we bid farewell to the caribou we turned back.

“Where’s camp, again? How far is it? A mile or so?”

“3 miles.” I answered flatly.

“Oh.” Gina gazed off into the distance with an introspective stare.

I could tell something inside was starting to work. She was cold, wet and tired and the journey ahead would be tough.

We set off… and even though it was mostly downhill, our progress was slow and every step forward was a battle, especially when we, once again, had to hack our way through the ocean of dwarf birch shrubs.

I looked back at Gina and the wheels were definitely turning. Her eyes were down, not speaking. I learned that these are the times where I need to shut up and let the student do the heavy lifting.

So we pushed forward, slow and miserable as we were.

Finally we arrived at the camp, changed into clean, dry clothing and Gina proclaimed without even looking at me, “I’m gonna make a fire.”

She proceeded over to the firepit, knelt down and got to work…she was struggling…

And it was at that moment that something clicked.

She turned away from me, but her breathing quickened and her shoulders were shaking, it was a Backcountry Coaching Expeditions Hall of Fame “aha moment”…and later that nights we had a life-changing conversation that never would’ve happened if we hadn’t hiked ourselves ragged over miles of harsh terrain, fought through rain and sleet and struggled to get a tiny fire going.

But how the hell did it happen?

It wasn’t anything I said.

It wasn’t a caribou induced inspiration.

It wasn’t any sort of secret or magic spell.

It was an encounter with the silent and simple realities of life when you tear away everything that’s just a distraction.

That’s what my backcountry coaching expeditions are all about.

You escape the grind, stress and inhumane distractions of daily life and plunge into an exciting world of unknowns.

A world that forces you out of your self-imposed comfort zones and take on things you’ve never done before… track down a herd of caribou, hike further and higher than you ever had in weather you’d usually hide from, make fire with only flint and steel.

Even simple tasks like carrying water or chopping wood…

It’s during these simple realities that you’re given the freedom to realize what’s actually important to you and what’s just a distraction from being the greatest person and leader you can be.

A great thought leader friend of mine once said “Nature kills… it humbles you. And puts things back in order.”

If that’s what you’re looking for in life, apply for backcountry coaching expeditions today.

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