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Hug a Tree, Come Back Alive…the Things I Do in the Name of Research

1 Jul 2011
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In mid-July, I’m going to spend a week out in the wilderness, hugging trees, singing Kumbaya, smoking a peace pipe, and running away from black bears, grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, moose, elk, and other large mammals that can eat me or squash me like a bug.

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have sweat this. Not because I would’ve come out on top in one-on-one combat with any of the wildlife (not even in my wildest dreams), but because I practiced a lot of running at the dojo four times a week (it hurts less if opponents can’t make contact) and know I wouldn’t have been the slowest person in the group. These days, an octogenarian with a walker could probably outrun me. Sad, but true.

So, why is a city girl who enjoys winter sports because most wildlife are hibernating or gone south risking life and limb by going into the great outdoors during the peak of summer? Well, (1) this week communing with nature while slathered with SPF 100 sunscreen and mosquito repellant is a leadership course for my MBA. No, seriously. I will actually get credit for hiking and camping for a week. It (2) also gives me an excuse to visit MEC and buy new layers I can use for snowboarding. And (3) I may use it in a book someday. The heroine of the next book may find herself lost in the woods with a killer on her trail…or tripping someone to distract a grizzly while she runs away. I can make either scenario work.

While I’m a coward at heart, this trip is not the most questionable thing I’ve done in the name of research. I have white water-rafted, skydived, taken the controls of an airplane, pushed 130 mph on the Autobahn, eaten food from a street vendor in Asia, crossed a street in Paris, and a few other things that are a little fuzzy (probably for the sake of my sanity). Bungee-jumping and base-jumping are still on my list…which reminds me I still need to plan a trip to New Zealand in the next couple of years. (No, I really don’t have a death wish. If I did, I’d try planking.)

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