Life Lessons Learned from a Bear Canister

I just got back from a great trip to Mount Whitney.  Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 and located in California.  My son was supposed to go with me, but he had to cancel at the last minute due to work.  Luckily, a buddy named Chava who I have climbed with before agreed to come along.  The climb was a two-day event.  Having a buddy meant I would not have to carry all of the gear myself.

One of the requirements to enter the Whitney Zone is the use of a bear canister.  A bear canister is a container that is carried in your pack.  In this container, you place all of your food and anything else that has a scent.  A bear canister is used to protect your food from bears and other critters.  It’s as much for the safety of the hiker as it is the bear.  You see, once a bear learns to associate food with people the balance of nature is interrupted.  The bears lose their fear of people.  Bears who become habituated often must be euthanized.  In addition to bears, a bear canister also separates your food from other critters like Marmots, for which there were plenty at our high camp on the mountain.  I’ve had experience with the use of a bear canister, but Chava had not.  I told him that if he kept any food in his pack or in our tent, we put ourselves, our equipment, and the animals all at risk.  The only incident we had was we found two marmots sniffing around a bag of plastic when we returned to our camp after our climb.

Earlier, I mentioned my son Jason.  He completed 4-years in the Marine Corp recently and is searching for what’s next in his life.  He’s struggling and currently working for a moving company.  I know times are difficult for him.  It takes a lot of restraint on my part not to intervene.  With a snap of my fingers, I could make his problems disappear; At least temporarily.  He must learn to live on his own and make his own way.  Any creature, man or beast, that lives on handouts is doomed to fail.  They are prisoners of those who control the purse.  Their lives are diminished because they lack self-worth, confidence, and gratitude.  Eventually, they become victims who feel entitled.  It’s a never-ending downhill spiral.  As a parent who loves their child, it’s difficult to “stay in my lane”.  Sure, I can assist with encouragement, direction, and opportunity.  But, I can’t just hand him the outcome he desires.  This is a journey he must navigate if he is to live his best life.

There are so many lessons, like this one, to be learned in the mountains.  I guess that’s why I love it there.  I am looking at another hike involving a mountain top fire lookout in August.  I struggled a little on this mountain climb.  Guess I need more physical training before my next go.  Speaking of training.  Training is something you do, not something you did.  Training, regardless of the type, is done not so you can avoid pain, but rather so you can learn to endure it.

I have no doubt my son will find his way.  He’s a total badass Marine.  He knows that there’s no replacement for doing the work.  Like climbing a mountain, there’re no shortcuts to the top.

Until next time, I hope you Find Your Adventure and Live Your Life.

PS – I summited Whitney on my 54th birthday, July 22nd. The goal was to go to the highest and lowest point in the Lower 48 on the same day.  We made the summit of Whitney, 14,508 feet, at about 7 am.  At 9 pm I made it to Badwater Basin in Death Valley.  Since the day had started at 2 am, I was exhausted.  However, it was still one of my best birthdays ever.

PPS – Years ago I created The List.  If you follow this link you will find a copy of The List as well as all of the things I have cleared off of the The List over the years.  It’s never too late to become the person you always wanted to be.