How Wilderness Survival Trips Prepared Me for Spinal Cord Injury

I was 300 miles from civilization in the outback country of Western Australia in the Kimberly’s in 95° heat carrying an 80 lb. backpack with holes in the back of my heels the size of quarters bleeding profusely in my hiking boots climbing a mountain with no way to turn back.  All I wanted to do is stop hiking, but I was on the side of the mountain with jagged rocks and several other hiking comrades trying desperately to make it to the top while my feet could barely carry me a step further. 

I know I couldn’t complain because we were a team trying to hike our way to the next water source by the end of the day with nothing but a compass and a topographical map.  If we didn’t make it to the next water source by sunset we would have be stranded in the wilderness surrounded by King cobra snakes, chilling temperatures, exposed to the elements, and disoriented by the darkness of night.

Despite the agonizing torture of pain as I put 1 foot in front of the other – when we finally turned that corner or climbed over that mountain to find an oasis like waterfall in the middle of a desert like climate everything suddenly made sense.  I kicked off my boots, stripped off my clothes, and dove into the crystal clear pool of water to swim under the beating waterfall, which made that day of seemingly insurmountable challenges simply melt away.  It was paradise, but it was not without its perils to arrive at such a place.

This is just one memory of dozens I recall from my numerous wilderness survival trips I willingly participated in during my young teens to my mid 20’s prior to my spinal cord injury, which, I didn’t know at the time, was preparing me for the hardest journey of my life – living life as a quadriplegic with paralysis from the chest down.

Read the rest on Push Living Magazine: https://pushliving.com/how-wilderness-survival-trips-prepared-me-for-spinal-cord-injury/