By: Mary DiMartino
- You don’t have to use your phone right away
I honestly wouldn’t recommend using it at all. I can’t put into words how stressed out I was the first night back, solely from feeling the need to contact everyone from back home. I was completely overwhelmed and all of the peace the wilderness had offered me for 24 days flew out the window. Take your time adjusting the transition from having absolutely no technology to having it at your fingertips. I took the disconnect from technology for granted while I was out in the Wind River mountains.
- Your eyes are most definitely bigger than your stomach
After being back in the front country for a week, I still manage to get a full stomach from each meal to the point where I’m in pain. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all come with an aching tummy and the regret of over-eating. Missing real food is understandable after living off of dehydrated fruit and cheesy pasta for three and a half weeks. However, know that whatever food that you’re desperately wanting will be there forever and you do not need to shove all of it down your throat the moment you get back. ALSO, don’t go on grocery store runs every day once you return, and if you do, keep telling yourself that buying 5 different snack foods is not acceptable, and you are going to regret spending all of your money on food that you end up giving away because you overestimated your hunger. Put that package of Oreos back on the shelf – it’s not worth it!!!
- People aren’t going to appreciate your experience as much as you, but that’s okay
This was probably the hardest thing for me coming back. As I was counting down the days until we returned to the front country, I couldn’t help but feel excited to share all of my adventures and stories from my time in the wilderness. Those 24 days and nights were probably the most difficult times of my life, but also the greatest. I wanted to be able to share that feeling with everyone from back home. And while everyone thought it was cool I climbed mountains and saw a bear and did a solo, it didn’t mean nearly as much to them as it did to me. The lack of excitement and interest in their voices discouraged me and made me feel as if my experience wasn’t as great as I thought it was. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what others feel or think about my journey through the Wind River Mountains. Because they didn’t climb Goat Flat or sleep out in the pouring rain or trek through the wilderness for 4 days without the help of instructors. I did. And my take away from that experience is all that matters.
- Focus on yourself
When I returned from the wilderness I tended to focus on others and how they were doing, opposed to putting myself and the rest of my experience first. I found myself investing my time and energy into other peoples’ lives. This drew me away from my own experience. I somewhat forgot that after NOLS my journey wasn’t over. This past week I can honestly say I haven’t fully taken in or appreciated the things I’ve been doing because I’ve been too caught up with what people from back home have been doing. Make sure you put yourself before anyone else and don’t let your curiosity of others override your own life and experiences.
- Continue to live in the moment
A big thing for us as a group out in the wilderness was to live in the moment – to be present. We focused on “the now” and tried to appreciate what the wilderness had to offer: beauty and peace. Being back in the front country I’ve been faced with many problems, most focusing on the past or future. But what I’ve learned from being in the wilderness is that you can’t change the past or control the future, so just focus on what you can do in the moment. Be grateful for everything in your presence and don’t take anything for granted. Don’t fret over the little things; look at the big picture and and focus on what’s truly important.