Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Anasazi story

I'm going to tell you my Anasazi story. I'm hesitant to do so because I am a rather bad example of disobeying Anasazi rules. I seriously wonder if they still tell stories about me. To any of my trail walker who may be reading this, I am sorry for all the frustration I caused you but I am not sorry for any of my actions. I learned who I am through my experience and I am forever grateful for that. I will be posting pictures throughout. 

For those of you who don't know what Anasazi is, I will explain. Anasazi is a 6 week outdoor program for troubled youth. You get dropped off in the middle of the wilderness with the 2 trail walkers and the following
(at least 10 years ago this is what you got.)

A down mummy sleeping bag, 2 sets of clothing-day time clothing and night time clothing, a burrito-outside lining for your sleeping bag, 2 bandanna's, 2 can tines, A sweatshirt, a tin cup to cook in, Toilet paper if you're lucky, little bottle of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, rope, and your food pack, 1 tiny squeeze bottle to purify your water, a pair of rugged outdoor sandals and boots. 

The things I took that were against the rules are as follows

gum, pain killers, my pillow, and a little brush that folded in half and had a mirror in it. The Anasazi way is to not force you to do anything so they let you choose to follow the rules. 

Your first week you're a rabbit foot so your food pack is small and your trail walkers make your fire that you cook over. 

Rabbit foot food pack consisted of the following-

1 zip lock of rice, 1 zip lock of lentils, 1 zip lock of powdered cheese, 1 zip lock of tang, 1 zip lock of bouillon, 1 zip lock of raisins, 1 zip lock of wheat noodles, 1 zip lock of oatmeal, 1 zip lock of corn meal, 1 zip lock of brown sugar, 1 zip lock of powdered milk, and1 zip lock of raw sunflower seeds, a zip lock of bacon bits(my favorite). oh and salt.

Your second week there you get a bow drill set and they tech you to make your own fire using your bow drill set. After that in order to eat your have to start your own fire and they add produce to your food pack which consisted of the following

1 apple, 1 onion, 1 bulb of garlic, 2 carrots, 1 small baggie of powdered butter, 1 large potato, and sun dried tomatoes. 

Every week your trail walkers were switched out for new ones and you received a new full food pack with new underwear and socks. Half way through you also got a new set of daytime and night time clothes, a new sweatshirt and  new bandanna's. Every week your new trail walker also brings you letters from your family and your old trail walker take letters from you to your family. 

The goal of Anasazi is to overcome any problems you are having without being forced and with counseling. Once a week a licensed therapist came and saw you on the trail for an hour to check on progress. They are the ones who get to say if you are ready to go home. I liked mine. Then there's back up, who is a trail walker with special first aide training who drive around in a truck around the camps unseen but their just in case anything happens. There is also a windwalker, who is a trailwalker who goes from camp to camp just as an extra set of eyes, and generally had more experience then regular trail walkers. I loved my wind walker. Her name was amber. 

So, my brother was sent to Anasazi to help him deal with his drug addiction. When he came home I thought is was cool and begged my parents to send me. I was suffering a bit from depression and honestly I wanted to drop 20 pounds and thought it would be a fun way to do that. Eventually my parents agreed that it was a good idea and sent me in the end of February. I was stoked. 

me tying up my pack. You made your pack out of your sleeping bag. Tied it a specific way with the rope you're given and use your burrito for straps. It generally weighed about 80-110 pounds

I got out to the trail with one other girl with me, tricia, and 2 trail walkers. We made mac and cheese for dinner which I thought was yummy. I was starving mind you, and then we settled in for the night. You sleep on the ground. I didn't sleep much. The male trail walker was nice enough to sing to tricia and I to help us fall asleep. No luck. The next morning the hiking started. Your trail walkers have a map and with the aide of the map they get you to you Final destination for the week. Referred to as Final D. It was generally anywhere from 60 miles to 120 miles in a 1 week period. They generally tried to split it between monday through friday so you could rest Saturday and sunday. So 12 to 20 miles a day. With an 80 pound pack. Needless to say, I was miserable. My trailwalkers said the first week was the hardest and that it would get easier. I believed them. 
me working over my fire. Yes I am super dirty. 

I made my final D that first week and said goodbye to my trail walkers and met my new trail walker, singular. She was not my favorite. That they switched we made our bow drill sets and started learning to make our own fires. I loved that part and took to it right away. We also got our first produce pack and foolishly scarfed our sweet apple in the first 5 minutes. We learned eventually. I was sleeping by now. After miles of hiking in hard terrain with an 80 pound pack you can't help but sleep. 

Morning came and I was not looking forward to hiking. Not because it was hard, not because it made me tired, hungry and sore but because it put me in my own head. Me being stuck in my head is not a good thing and hiking automatically puts me there. The negativity began. Bad memories from my childhood flooded my mind. Memories my subconscious tried so hard to shut out. I couldn't escape. I was miserable. I didn't want to hike anymore. I was done. My 8th day I  begged and begged to go home. I chose to come out couldn't I choose to go home? No. That's not how it works. That night we set up camp at a bat cave with soft sand around it. It was one of my favorite places. I started to cook with my new food. I was surprisingly good at that part and loved it. 

One trail walker who only visited anasazi every now and then gave me a flute he made out of bamboo. It was very special to me. You are generally not given anything at anasazi, The point is to earn things and make your own things. To be given something is rare and so are flutes. So very special.

The next morning came and I decided not to hike. As I said I was done. A lot of kids experience the same, stuck in your own head, thing as I did. They want you to work through the things that go through your head with your counselor. Work through them, get passed them, walk forward. A wonderful idea. Which works for most people. I, however, am very rarely like most people. Since I chose not to walk and they don't like to force you, my trail walker and tricia left me to join the older girls in the badger stone group. The wind walker joined me. Which is when I met Amber. I stayed at that bat cave for 5 days and nights. Learning to cook and talking with amber. She made sense to me. She talked me into trying again. So the sixth day we packed up, and hiked at least 45 miles to meet up with the badger stone girls at final D. No one hikes that much in one day. I did. That's when I got a reputation around the camps. The boy groups heard about me and started calling me bat girl and the sitter. Family, I was never known for being lazy, which I know is what you all thought of me. 

I met the rest of the girls and the their trail walkers and was happy to get to know and be with them. I got to know them. They talked to me. They liked me. They learned from me. The trail walkers saw a good thing. I sang for around the fire. I taught them how to cook better and yummier things. I helped them make their fires. I was good for them. I met with my counselor and spoke with him of my difficulties. I spoke of my childhood abuse and health issues and peer issues. I had already worked through and dealt with most and yet when I hiked, I couldn't escape it. I told him I didn't think the program was right for me, Hiking wasn't right for me. I wasn't progressing. He didn't agree. I sent horrible letters to my family of how much I hated it there and how miserable I was and how it was their fault for not letting me come home. I was horrible. I was mad, madder then I think I've ever been. 

my goodies. My bow drill set, my many leather bags I made, my frost knife, and my book of mormon. The spoons I made for myself and my mom and dad. I got really good at making spoons. 

Week three started. I hiked with the other girls. I tried escaping my memories by singing or talking with the other girls. I started reading my book of mormon and loving it. I started to pray and have a real relationship with my heavenly father. None of it worked while hiking. I generally spent my day crying and miserable and my nights happy and chatting with the girls. I made them happy. Which made me happy. My sleeping bag broke and I was cold every night. I got an ingrown toenail. I hurt. More mentally then physically. About the third day of the third week the hiking got particularly difficult. About a mile from our destination for the night I dropped to the ground, broke down and gave up. I was done. I was content with that decision. One trailwalker stayed with me, the other went ahead with the other girls. I explained to my trailwalker, she listened and didn't argue. She radioed back up who showed up to drive us the last mile to the other girls. I declined. I wanted to be heard. I didn't want the easy way out. Backup radioed Ezekiel, the founder of Anasazi who just happened to be out on the trail. He came and visited with me. He listened. He told me stories of his life. He taught me of his hardships. I was grateful. I loved him and felt love from him. I hiked to the other girls still determined not to hike. The next morning Jen stayed with me and the other girls left. I was alone again and still content. The week finished. Jen left a new trail walker joined me, also named Amber. I like her. Ezekiel decided that since I wouldn't hike I wouldn't get a new food pack. I am grateful to him for that decision. I only had my lentils and bullion left. That night I didn't sleep. I was freezing with my broken sleeping bag and I hurt and I was sad. I turned to my friend and heavenly father. For about 2 hours I talked, no discussed, with him my feelings. I heard him and he heard me. I still feel a peace like no other when I think back on that night. He understood. My past was not to be forgotten because I had to learn from it. However, I no longer needed to put myself in a position that left me dwelling on it. He understood. I was happy and content. The program wasn't perfect for me. It was in a way, harmful for me. I no longer needed to put myself in that harmful position. The next morning I was happy, peaceful and I asked to talk to my counselor.  
Me and my dad during parents week. 

My counselor came. We talked. I explained of my conversation with my Heavenly Father. He didn't believe me. I told him of my decision to no longer hike and that whether or not they were okay with it, I was and my Heavenly father was and that was all that mattered to me at that point. He listened but disapproved. I was disobeying. Not working the program, a bad example. I would be kept an extra 2 weeks. I didn't care. They could do as they willed. I was alright. I was doing what was right for me. I was aware that  my heavenly father was happy with my decision. He said he'd talk with my parent and Ezekiel. That week I went without my food pack and didn't experience hunger. I was happy. I sat, I read, I worked on waking forward, I prayed, I sang, I read. I talked with my trail walker. Eventually about 4 days in my trailwalker was radioed that we would be joined by the rest of the girls that night. It turned out that since they left none of them could start their own fire and therefore none of them had eaten for several days. Since I could make a fire they would be coming back to me. That night it rained. They were miserable and hungry. The sprinkling made it hard to start a fire. I was even having a hard time. Eventually my trailwalker agreed to try it tandem. Both of us working the bow. After that it was up to me. I was successful and the girls finally ate. A lot. Sharing food is frowned upon so none of them offered me anything. However, I could see they all wanted to and were pained to sit there and eat thanks to my work while I went without food. I reminded them often that I was fine and that I really wasn't hungry. They stayed for the rest of the week. 

Week four started. Trailwalkers were swapped out. My counselor and told me of his meeting with my parents and ezekiel. He brought with him a new sleeping bag and a full food pack. All for me. Turn out he did not believe me but my mother did. And she stood up for me. I believe her exact words were, "If my daughter says she conversed with the Lord and came to an understanding then I believe she did.". The program changed for me after that. I was given my own trailwalkers. I got to pick our hiking route. I got to pick how often we stopped. It was decided that the other girls would be with me as often as possible. Turns out their counselors decided I was a good influence on them whether I hiked or not. 
Me with my goodies.
Me doing my favorite thing. Cooking

I hiked a little. By little, I mean at least 40 miles a week. I progressed a ton. I made a ton. I did a lot in my work book. I learned a lot. I started to love the program. I would still be staying an extra 2 weeks. I finally got my frost. A coveted sharp knife that most get in their second week. Due to my bad behavior I got it in my 4th week. The program changed with me and for me. I made friendships with not only the other girls but my trailwalkers. I think they liked me despite my bad attitude. I learned to learn from the horrible things life throws at you but not dwell on them. I learned to listen. I learned to ask for help. Something I should probably learn again. I learned to make wonderful food out of the not so wonderful things they gave us. Including, delicious twice baked potato with cheese, onions, garlic bacon bit and salt. I learned to make amazing oatmeal as well as lasagna with my my little cup.  My favorite were my muffins. I had to borrow someone else's cup to make a muffin and eventually I had to borrow the other girls cups in round because whoever's cup I borrowed got half of the muffin and they all wanted half of my muffins. I learned to make a type of honey butter with my brown sugar. powdered butter and powdered mild to eat with my muffins. As well as a of sweet nut butter by roasting my sunflower seeds and crushing them up and adding powdered butter, powdered milk and a tiny bit of brown sugar. My eighth week fast approached. They couldn't decide if they wanted to keep me another 2 weeks to make my experience a total of ten weeks or to let my eighth be my last. 

Me and my mom on the trail. 

I wanted to see my parents and my family but I would be content if they decided on another 2 weeks. Your last week they call your solo week. You're on your own, with your trail walkers at least 100 feet away from you at all times. They normally tell you at the beginning of the week. I think they wanted to test me and see if I was truly content with another 2 weeks out there so they did. I din't find out my 8th week was my solo week until 2 day in. Then my solo week started. It was my favorite week and I was excited to see my parents. They meet you out on the trail for 2 days and 1 night and then you all hike out together. I was always able to make my fire and eat that last week. My parents finally came and I was excited to show them my outdoor cooking skills. I was informed that my food wouldn't taste good to them. It was only good to me because I'd been int he middle of the wilderness for 8 weeks and they hadn't. My parents brought new food packs with them and I got started. We roasted garlic cloves and onion peels in the ashes and dipped it in my powdered cheese. A trick I'd learned to love. My mom still talks about good that was to this day. I made them my famous twice baked potatoes that I had perfected and a couple muffins since they brought cups too. I think they liked it cause they ate it all. I lie, I know they loved it. They were afraid of my 8th week being my last but when they got there and they saw me in action they saw my progress and were happy with it. I know they were happy with the trail food cause my moms till talks about it. I showed them all the things I had made. Told them of my friends and trailwalkers and we were happy. 

reading letters from the rest of my family. 

They brought letters from the rest of my family. Most of whom expressed their disappointment in me for failing to work the program. I understood why they felt that's what had happened and didn't care. I knew better and was still ecstatic to hear from them. My parents shared some of their sentiments until those 2 days they spent with me on the trail. Apparently once my experience on the trail changed I failed to right as much and therefore they never got to hear the good stuff from me. They heard the good stuff when they got there. We hiked out on the last day and met the van that would drive us back to the anasazi building with the other girls and their parents. My parent also got to chat some with the other girls and learned more of my journey from them. I was most thrilled by the fact that the van had fresh bananas and bagels that I could scarf down. 

There it is. My first 4 weeks were a nightmare, my last 4 weeks were one of the best experiences of my life. I'd love to be able to send all my children one day. Again, I don't support my behavior for others but it was right for me. I spent many days just sitting and working. and many days hiking. It was very different for me then it was for most but had just as much of an impact.

Looking back, having POTS and knowing that it takes an epic event in a POTS patients life that kicks the symptoms into to gear, I think that is another reason my experience was different. I think had my Anasazi experience stayed the same my POTS would have kicked into gear at a much younger age and I wouldn't have been able to get a handle on all of my other disorders. 

If any of you decide you want my outdoor, over the fire recipes I'd be happy to post them. 


Becky &(sometimes)Tyler said...

i really enjoyed reading that. i just think you're great.

Frecklicious said...

I'd like to have your recipes :)

Pamela Samuels said...

Recipes please