Weathering the Storms

I finally had a chance to work on some art today. I am almost done carving my American Basin linocut, and hope to do the first proof of it next weekend. The past two weeks have been incredibly busy. I must be trying to make up for all that time I was stuck at home healing up!

My Certified Interpretive Trainer course with the National Association of Interpretation was phenomenal. I learned some great techniques for teaching others how to be effective interpreters, but the course affected me on a much deeper level than that: It reaffirmed my passion for interpretation and reminded me of why I went into this important field. My love for nature and wild places is endless, and I have a strong desire to help other people connect to their natural and cultural heritage so that these things can be cared for and preserved.

When I was severely sick in the hospital last fall with Ulcerative Colitis and trying to determine my treatment options, I felt that surgery gave me the best chance of returning to my profession fully capable of doing everything I did before. I remember one doctor making rounds in the hospital, who I had never met before, asked me if I could not just get a desk job and deal with the painful side effects of the medicine option instead of choosing surgery, which was a permanent and irreversible choice. I could not understand this mindset. I am certain the doctor had things that she loved so much that she would have gone through great lengths to sustain them. I was just lucky that my passions were also tied closely to my career. And being a naturalist, which is a job I wanted to pursue since I was a teenager, was not something I would give up on easily.

Of course, though the chances of things going well with surgery were excellent, there were never any guarantees. So when I left the building after conducting a solid and successful presentation for a portion of my certification requirement, the tears started flowing. I am normally a pretty stoic person, but knowing the struggles I had gone through and overcome to get to that moment released a flurry of emotion. I had made a difficult choice, persevered, and was building on the career I loved again. Things had turned out perfectly. I cannot wait to train an eager new group of naturalists once I finish my training credentials.

The day after finishing class, I headed out to prove to myself that I was still capable of another passion: backpacking. Doug and I had planned the overnight trip in Rocky Mountain National Park for several weeks, always saying that if the weather wasn’t looking great for such an early spring trip, we could always make a different plan. However, when we pulled up to the trailhead in a surprise snowstorm, we were not about to turn around. I was too excited! We hiked 2.5 miles to camp, toes and hands freezing, but ecstatic to be out in the wilderness again. When we got there, we set up camp, enjoyed some hot drinks and dinner and then jumped into our sleeping bags. It was too cold to do much else! We were thrilled to wake up to sunny skies and enjoyed a quick breakfast before heading out for a five-mile round-trip snowshoe excursion to frozen Fern Lake. Just as we arrived, another storm blew in and soon the snowflakes were flying again. We were able to see a glimpse of the surrounding peaks before they were quickly shrouded in snow. We made it back to camp, packed up the rest of our stuff and headed back to the trailhead. I was tired when I returned to the car, but so happy. I had successfully backpacked again and in very challenging conditions. Though it ended up being too cold to sketch on that trip, I still got some great reference photos for future projects.

And with that, I will end this entry. It is time to get back to some art– my other favorite way to help people connect to wild places!

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