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How-To

May 28, 2019

The Wonders of a Weekend Warrior

Part-Time Writer, Part-Time Server, Part-Time Substitute Teacher... Full-Time Weekend Warrior

WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

For the past several years, I have been a full-time nomad. No steady home, no rent checks, no cozy bed to come back to after a long day on the river. My “home address” is legally listed as my parents’ house in Missoula, Montana, but out of the past three years combined, I don’t think I have spent more than 60 days there. My real home is a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. I travel from river to river, parking where I please, and sleeping where I please. An old, beat-up topper covers the bed of the truck. One of the biggest learning experiences I have had from my life as a nomad – do not buy items off Craigslist at night, when you cannot fully inspect them.

Truck life. Photo: Seth Ashworth

“Nah, this topper is solid. No cracks!” is what I was told by the man selling it to me. Turns out,  I will believe anything I am told if it comes at a cheap price. Multiple days spent working with fiberglass and caulking glue have ensured that I have a dry place to sleep every night. Well… dry enough, at least. The topper, combined with a savvy carpentry project by myself, my dad, and my uncle, has provided me with a home for the past three years, which, not including the price of the truck itself, cost a whopping $150.

A recent illness acquired while traveling abroad has left me with some fairly intense food intolerances, which, as it turns out, are much easier to manage with access to a real kitchen. Reluctantly, I moved my minimal belongings into a real house and settled into a life as a weekend warrior. Hesitant to leave my nomadic lifestyle behind, I have vowed to work as much as possible during this strange and uncomfortable “house phase”, thus saving enough money to ensure many more nomadic days in my future, once I am healthy enough to get back on the road. Working as a part-time writer, a part-time substitute teacher, and a part-time server at an Italian restaurant, my “weekend warrior” routine evolved more into a “monthly warrior” routine. An unfortunate side-effect of working three jobs at once, I am finding myself paddling less than I would like. But the motivation of getting back to my full-time adventure lifestyle in the future is what is keeping me going.

A couple weeks ago, I unexpectedly found myself with a full THREE days off of each of my jobs in a row! Not wanting to waste a second of it, I hastily threw a random assortment of warm clothes, kayaking gear, sleeping bags, and food necessities into my truck and took off on a mission.

Bouncing up and down, back and forth, all I can think about is keeping all four tires on the ground and not bottoming out. I am in a high clearance Toyota Tacoma, but the road is so bad, I am still occasionally hearing the nails-on-chalkboard sound of rocks against the truck’s undercarriage.

I am heading to Peace Wave, on the Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho. Situated on a sandy beach, deep in the canyon without cell service or contact with the outside world, the wave is a freestyle kayaker’s dream getaway.

I eventually reach my destination, pull into a sandy lot next to the river, and start setting up camp. Pulling my kayak out of the back of my truck, I am careful not to whack it against any of the other numerous items I have stashed away back there. I am only planning on being away from home for three days, but for some reason I have brought nearly every item I own.

Anxiously peering out at the river, I spot the wave that I came to surf. A beautiful, glassy, green wave, with the perfect amount of foam. This wave isn’t nearly as big and scary as the usual river waves I surf. In fact, in comparison, it is actually quite small. But I didn’t come here for a thrill. I came here alone. For the experience. I came here for some solo soul surfing in one of the most beautiful canyons in the western United States.


As I am sorting through my gear, getting ready for my first paddling session, I check my camera only to find the batteries are all dead. Typical Brooke… I bring everything I own, but don’t manage to check if the things I brought will actually work out there! I had promised myself that I would film my sessions, so I could at least pretend to be training and taking it seriously. 

I decide to put off paddling for one more hour while my camera battery charges. I dig my Jackery Portable Power Station out of the back of my truck, hoping it still has some charge leftover from the last trip I took with it. I plug in my camera, and right away the USB connection light starts blinking and I know it is getting some juice. 

Everyone needs to charge their phone, even while camping! Photo: Brooke Hess.

I spend the next hour pacing around camp, eating snacks, and anxiously checking my camera’s battery. A short 40 minutes after plugging it in, the battery reads 80%. Enough to go kayaking for two hours, and then some!


I quickly throw my gear on, set the camera on a rock, press record, and hop in my boat. I spend the next two hours throwing trick after trick, trying not to let the cold, October water dampen my spirits. Eventually, exhausted and hungry, I crawl out of my boat and walk up the rocks to check the camera. Still recording… perfect!

It’s just past 6:00pm, which in October in Idaho, means it is starting to get dark. I quickly get out of my kayaking gear, into some warm fleece, and start cooking tonight’s meal of turkey noodle soup. While cooking, I decide to plug my laptop into the Jackery Power Station to charge that up as well. If it is going to be getting dark this early, I might as well get some writing done in the evenings!

Screenshot from Brooke’s camera during her training session on Peace Wave.


Sitting on the tailgate of my truck, I eat my soup in silence as the stars begin to shine. I haven’t seen another person since I arrived at the river four hours ago, and probably won’t for the next three days.

After dinner, I decide to settle into work.  I am working on an article about River Access Fees. It is fitting that I am writing this article while camped next to a river with an access fee for multi-day rafting trips.

Several hours of transcribing interviews, picking out good quotes, and writing later, my eyes are so heavy I can feel my head slowly nodding towards my laptop screen. I stash my laptop and the Jackery Power Station, crawl into bed, and dream of surfing Peace Wave until morning, when I wake up and do it all over again.

Brooke working in her truck on a cold day in December. Photo: Sierra McMurry

Cover Photo by Sierra McMurry

 

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Athletes & Explorers

Jun 19, 2019

REWILD with Tony Riddle: Part 2 – Children and Education

Tony Riddle explains how our educational system must be reinvented to better preserve childrens' innate abilities and uniqueness.

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WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

In our latest series called REWILD with Tony Riddle, The Outdoor Journal has been speaking with Tony about his paradigm-shifting approach to living a natural lifestyle that’s more in line with our DNA than Western society’s delerious social norms. In Part 1, we introduced how Tony is leading a rewilding movement through his coaching practices as well as his commitment to run 874 miles barefoot across the entire UK to raise awareness for sustainability.

In this installment, Tony discusses society’s disconnect from our ancestral hunter-gather lifestyle, the need to completely reinvent the education system, and how to preserve children’s innate abilities.

REWILD

TOJ: When I see the word “rewilding,” I picture the opening scene of the movie Last of the Mohicans where Daniel Day-Lewis is sprinting and leaping through the woods on an elk hunt. Is that how humans are supposed to be, an athletic animal in tune with nature?

Tony Riddle: In modern society, we’re basically living in these linear boxes, breathing in the same air, getting the same microbiome experience, sleeping in the same room over and over, and nothing alters. Whereas the tribal cultures that we came from are moving through a landscape that’s forever changing. They’re always uploading new sensory pathways, new sensory experiences, constantly in a state of wiring and rewiring the brain. For me, the path of rewilding is getting back to that – being present in nature and honoring a cellular system, a sensory system and a microbiome system in their natural setting.

When you start to really assess it, some people have this vision of hunter-gatherers as savages, but these are sophisticated beings, and as they move through the landscape, they become the landscape.

By “Rewilding” we can get back to a lifestyle that’s more in line with our innate human biology.

Tribespeople operate in these states of meditation which, when you have kids you appreciate it. I’ve studied childhood behavior in the formative years, those first years up until the age of seven. The brain is working at a certain hertz that you and I can only achieve through meditation. This is the state of Flow. It hasn’t been cultured or schooled out of them.

When I think of “rewilding” now I have a term I’m calling “rechilding.” We’ve got to try and get back to that level of frequency that tribes have managed to stretch into adulthood. I’ve tried to break down the behaviors of these tribes. I discovered Peter Gray’s work, who asked the question to 10 leading anthropologists, “What does childhood look like in nature?” From infancy through the age of 16, children play. That’s all they do, without any adult intervention, and they learn everything they need to learn about their adult environment in those first playful years. So if that’s the case, then they go into adulthood still playing and they don’t have to work to find flow states through that field of senses and the frequency that they’ve been operating in.

PLAY

TOJ: In familiarizing myself with your work, I noticed that some elements are about reverse engineering the range of motion, movement chains and posture of our own selves as children, while others focus on reconnecting with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, how do you reconcile those concepts?

“For children, it’s about preserving their wildness and their innate abilities.”

Tony Riddle: For children, it’s about preserving their wildness and their innate abilities, the stuff that you and I would have had but we went through an educational process where it’s not appropriate to move or say anything out of turn, where children are expected to just sit still in a classroom for hours on end and not share anything. But then you realize that when you go out into the world that you have to share everything, We need to show them the appropriate behaviors and not dumb them down by limiting their experience.

Tony spending time climbing trees with his children to preserve their innate ability to climb and balance.

In those early years, we have things like physical education, but before physical education, we have play. We were all playing around, trying to understand the physicality of our body. We’re born with all the gear, we just have no idea how to use it, because our adult species doesn’t know how to demonstrate the appropriate behavior. When we go through the playful state to try to understand this system as children, we might impersonate all the animals, but now as adults, we have to go to animal flow class to relearn it.

When children go to physical education class, they’re given specialist clothing, which includes sneakers and the specialist clothes that their adult species wear. The adults model to children how tough exercise is and how brutal it is. Adults come back profusely sweating, which is absurd because imagine the hostile environments that this species has had to traverse! My DNA goes back 270,000 years to a tribe in East Africa. So imagine how hostile these environments would have been!

“Imagine the hostile environments that this species has had to traverse!”

We observe these parkour kids, they’re showing us what’s innately in us. I love hanging out with them because it’s just expanded my mind and my movement. The physicality of the human being is unbelievable, but it’s been cultured into a sedentary position at this stage because the adult population is showing a compromised, sedentary lifestyle. By the time a child reaches the age of seven, all of the observations are made – the templates for the rest of their lives. So if the adult species is compromised, then within those first six years, that’s all the child will recognize as their potential range of behavior. I call it their “Tribe of Influence.” The tribe of influence is made up of your family, your friends and your close community around you. If you’re observing all their behaviors, that just becomes your social core. It doesn’t mean it’s biologically normal, it’s just the social norm. And social norms of today are so far afield, we are doing the most horrendous things. I read a stat yesterday, since 1970, 60% of the wild animal populations are gone. We’ve managed to do that in 50 years. That’s less than one human life span. Our social norms are compromising the planet.

Read next on TOJ: Tony Riddle: Introducing REWILD

REMEMBER YOUR PAST

There’s a great term I’m plugging the moment which Peter Kahn called “environmental generational amnesia.” Every generation that’s born, it can either expand on the knowledge passed down from before, or be dumbed down further, and it only remembers where it left off. So for those 60 percent of the species that are gone, to the new generation that comes in, that’s their new norm.

“It doesn’t mean it’s biologically normal, it’s just the social norm.”

The natural human pathways from our previous generations have been forgotten in a way, but movement is just a component of it for me. It goes beyond movement. There’s a whole physical, social and spiritual animal that needs rewilding. There’s also sleep and play and nutrition and human contact, even sunlight. We’re just disconnected.

Tony regularly plunges his body into icy water to maintain proper cardiovascular health.

We have a D3 issue with our culture now. We’re surrounded by artificial light in artificial environments, but when we do go out in the actual environment, we cover up by wearing sunglasses, so we’re not actually absorbing any of the nutrients from the sun that we should be. Especially in the UK, people are starved of sunlight, but as soon as the sun is out, they’re wearing sunglasses. If you look at helio-therapy, the highest absorption of D3 is around the eyes. There was a study recognizing that sun exposure helped kids with TB recover, but it also found that when they put sunglasses on, they didn’t get the results.

REINVENT EDUCATION

TOJ: If you were the superintendent of a school, what changes would you make if you are in charge?

“The educational system has to be scrunched up, thrown in a bin and restarted again.”

Tony Riddle: It’s almost like the educational system has to be scrunched up, thrown in a bin and restarted again. It’s flawed and it’s not working. In countries that are trying to do something about it, in particular, Finland in Scandinavia, it’s completely different. People are starting to wake up to the fact that it’s not biologically normal to be indoors all day, it’s not biologically normal to sit down all day, it’s not biologically normal to eat processed foods. But, that’s the environment where we’re growing these young bodies and minds.

The future is unraveling at such a rapid rate with tech. My understanding is, the current iteration of the educational system will have to die because of the way that the tech world is transforming things. So what can we possibly take from the educational model of today for five years time or 10 years time, where are we actually going to be in terms of the evolution of tech?

Like father like daughter, training their hanging L-sits on the olympic rings.

There’s almost like a natural pendulum. It’s swinging way back over this way. Now we’ll start to explore more biologically normal ways. With my barefoot run, I’m trying to raise awareness of these issues like sustainability in the environment and I can reach a wide audience through technology.

“It comes down to small changes.”

It comes down to small changes. You can drive yourself nuts thinking, “I’ve got to do this and do this…”, but actually, there’s value in just assessing things that are in your hands, looking at what is a biological norm versus a biological extreme. If you can’t justify something, you have to let it go. Then, what you can start to do is whittle away at things that aren’t appropriate behaviors and that will improve in the next generation that is observing those behaviors.

You and I are walking around with the observations from those first six years of our lives, and then if you really unravel it, we’re walking around with the norms of our ancestors as well.

We need a different educational model. We need a schooling system based on educating kids about their fundamental needs, including movement and play, one that gets them involved in growing natural foods and learning about their own independent role within the interdependent social tribe.

We’re all unique, but we go to school and we’re taught to conform. You have to sit and do the same exams, but in a real tribal situation, there’s an interdependence of the tribe, When you have kids, you suddenly realize how important it is. I’ve got three kids and another one on the way. They’re all different. Nature didn’t design them to be the same. They’re designed to be uniquely different so they fulfill their role in our tribe. Why not nurture the fact that they are different in order to grow their individual talents at a very young age. How do I nurture their unique abilities and create the appropriate environment for them to learn and become uniquely awesome?

Tony’s coaching is individually tailored based upon the belief that we all have a unique role to play in our community.

Stay tuned for our REWILD series featuring an in-depth discussion of Tony Riddle’s socially extreme, yet biologically normal practices.

Part 1, Tony Riddle: Introducing REWILD
Part 2, REWILD with Tony Riddle: Children and Education
Part 3, REWILD with Tony Riddle: Transforming Your Body
Part 4, REWILD with Tony Riddle: Barefoot Running Across Great Britain

To connect with Tony, visit tonyriddle.com

Facebook: @naturallifestylist
Instagram: @thenaturallifestylist
Twitter: @feedthehuman
Youtube: Tony Riddle

Feature Image: Tony’s daughter working on her grip strength in Tony’s studio.

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

The Outdoor Voyage booking platform and online marketplace only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

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