Hey everyone, hope it’s been a good week for you all.
So, rather than just writing about my own personal experience here at Jack Mountain, I’m going to be posting a few articles about the other students here. I’ll still be writing about the things we do, but I figure you’ve heard my views on the school and it couldn’t hurt to get some other opinions in if you’re thinking about doing a course at Jack Mountain or at a similar school. I’ve been slowly sitting down with each of them and conducting short interviews about how they found the school, what they’d like to do after, etc. I hope that if I can’t sway you into coming to Jack Mountain, one of the other students here can.
I’d like to introduce you first to DJ Brand. DJ drove the farthest to get up here to Masardis, coming all the way from Corpus Christi Texas. He’s a good guy, and has really been getting into the work up here. You’ll usually find him drinking a mountain dew, and laughing about whatever scrape his case of habitual bad luck has gotten him into last.
DJ served in the Navy after highschool, and in doing so continued the lifestyle he already knew. DJ’s father was also in the military, so he grew up bouncing around in Texas and Virginia. Once he got out of the service he took a job working at his father’s computer repair shop. I pressed him for what drew him from working on computers to coming all the way up north and leaving most of technology behind him for a few months. He explained that while he’s still fascinated by technology and modern life, he started to get tired of the day to day, and wanted to find a way to “get back to our roots”. Not in a cultural sense, but literally back to the basics of living as a human. Food, warmth and the skills required to obtain them without driving through a McDonald’s.
After talking to Tim about the course, he admits he had some trepidation. “I was sort of nervous “ he explains as we drive, taking a drag from both his ever present can of mountain dew, and his cigarette one after the other. “ I’d always wanted to be in a “survival” course, and that’s what I was looking for. After being here a few weeks, I hate that word now. Tim’s shown us that this isn’t about “surviving”, it’s about actually living outdoors “. He’s completely right, Tim Smith harps against that dreaded word “survival “ constantly, and for good reason. If you’re living an outdoor lifestyle, you aren’t needlessly putting yourself in dangerous situations. You’re trying to make yourself as comfortable as you can be without harming the natural world more than necessary. Throughout this course we’ve learned a lot about that. How to build shelters, make fire under pressure and increase our understanding of the part of the web of the natural world that we fit into.
When asked what he plans to do after finishing his studies at Jack Mountain, he isn’t quite sure. He knows he wants to keep going to more schools like this. He jokes about finding one in Texas that isn’t “so damn cold”, and perhaps getting his guide license there. This is an ongoing thing with our friend from Texas. The first few weeks here the night time temperatures were in the high teens and low twenties. Texas weather, it was not. However, DJ’s says the adjustment has been a good reality check for him, and forced him to really focus on our studies on fires and shelter building, if only to keep his toes warm enough at night.
The biggest take away for him though? Cooking. We do a lot of simple, from scratch meals up here (if you haven’t had Bannock fresh out of a solar over, you aren’t living my friends) and he admits to a habit of getting fast food more often than he should. However the skills we’re learning here about the process of making good, simple food have affected him immensely. He’s looking forward to going back home, and cooking for his girlfriend and not using something he picked up.
When I ask him for a final statement or advice for people considering Jack Mountain, he jumps on it without even thinking. Typical Texan. “even if you’ve just been curious, or are just thinking about doing a course like this, do it. You may not end up working in this industry, but the experience is worth it.
I agree DJ, I certainly do. Now crack open another can of mountain dew and let’s get the dust off those canoe paddles.