Forty years ago today — June 9, 1974 — I started out on a National Outdoor Leadership School wilderness course through the Uinta Mountains of Utah. It lasted six weeks.
I learned a lot about wilderness camping and survival skills, things that came in handy two years later when I went to work at a Rocky Mountain summer camp. I also kept a detailed diary in a little notepad that I bought at Stapleton Airport in Denver on my way to Lander, Wyoming, where the trip began. That’s the only time in my life that I’ve kept a diary (unless you count this blog). It came in handy in 1976 when I wrote my first produced play about a wilderness course gone horribly wrong.
But mine was mostly uneventful — no one died. I learned how to climb up and then rappel down a cliff, how to ford a stream with a fully-loaded pack, how to do what bears do in the woods, saw some amazing scenery — the photo is of Kings Peak, the highest point in Utah, and we crossed by it through Gunsight Pass — and learned that freeze-dried food and mountain bluebells can make a pretty good dinner.
We emerged from the wilderness in mid-July just in time for Watergate to blow up, and I made it home in time to watch the impeachment hearings on TV and see Richard Nixon resign a few weeks later.
The only souvenirs I have of the trip are that diary, a walking stick that I carved out of a ponderosa pine branch, and my mustache.