Just a few days ago I was fortunate enough to go on a wilderness seminar in the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness of Colorado. The seminar was put together and moderated by Paul Andersen, a freelance writer, book author and regular Aspen Times columnist based out of Basalt, CO. Each of the 17 participants were assigned various readings having to do with man’s relationship to nature, the history of wilderness, religion, philosophy, psychology, and conflicting values of the environment, culture and conservation. It was a beautiful 6-7 mile hike through the wilderness to get to Margy’s Hut, where we stayed the duration of the 3 day seminar. Margy’s was one of the first two huts to be built in the 10th Mountain Division in 1982. Because you cannot have any man-made structures within the boundaries of a Wilderness Area (as per the US 1964 Wilderness Act), the hut was constructed just outside of it.
Quite honestly, I was a bit nervous to go on this trip. I did not know a single person attending the seminar (aside from meeting Paul briefly) and was not sure what to expect. As soon as we all met at the trailhead, my feelings of nervousness quickly subsided. We spent the first half of the hike talking and getting to know each other and I could tell right away this was a great group of people. The group discussions were full of insight and different points of view; every person brought something different to the table.
Friday was spent mainly hiking up to the cabin and exploring the area, with readings in between. We had absolutely gorgeous weather during the day, with an intriguing thunder/lightning storm at night. This was my first time to the Aspen area and I was thrilled by all of the colorful wildflowers and flowing creek alongside the trail. The mountain air was crisp and fresh; I felt completely rejuvenated. I find that places like this really have a positive effect on your mind and body as a whole. No phones, emails, time constraints or previous engagements to worry about—how refreshing!
One of the readings that I really connected with was by Chief Luther Standing Bear, Indian Wisdom. In this piece, he speaks of the Lakota people’s concept of life—“Kinship of all creatures of the earth, sky and water.” The Lakota believed that all creatures were created by the same hand, of one common blood. “The animals had rights—the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness—and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing. For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them.” What a wonderful outlook they had! Just imagine what life in the present day would be like based off of that statement…