Posts Tagged ‘ecospiritual psychology’

MSI-Outward Bound-Sunapee HS Scholarships

03/04/2009

MSI continues to coordinate Scholarship Program for High School Students

Student rappels, N. Cascades, WA

Student rappels, N. Cascades, WA

Now in its fourth year, Mountain Spirit has been coordinating scholarships for Sunapee High School (NH, USA) students to attend Outward Bound. R. Richards had worked for Outward Bound as a recruiter in colleges and high schools, and included his hometown school in his recruiting efforts.  The program has sent a number of students on life-changing experiential wilderness programs designed to instill motivation, compassion, craftsmanship and a sense of community.

The Sunapee High School liaison Jeanne Circosta, has been coordinating the program at the student’s end, helping with applications and meetings and answering questions about Outward Bound.  Says Richards, “Jeanne has been a huge help in finding qualified and motivated students for Outward Bound.”

©2009 Outward Bound

©2009 Outward Bound

In the past students have gone sea kayaking in Maine, Rock climbing and backpacking in Colorado and Canoeing/Hiking in North Carolina. Two  16 year-old Junior students, Sean Reidy,  and Linnea Circosta, will be applying and there may be a third interested student.  Former Outward Bound and current Sunapee High School Student Brian Bailey has agreed to help with and fund raising efforts in Sunapee by speaking to such other organizations as the Sunapee Lyons Club or businesses that might be potential donors, allowing these students to go on this exciting program.

All funds received are dedicated to this particular program and are tax deductible as Mountain Spirit Institute is a 501-c-3 Non profit organization.

Brenda Dowst, MSI board member will also be helping in the fund raising effort by presenting the program highlights, selection criteria and goals to local organizations and businesses on an as needed basis.

Roped-Team Travel, N. Cascades

Roped-Team Travel, N. Cascades

Mountain Spirit is proud to be presenting this program which is gaining traction in the community, and with Outward Bound’s scholarship administration as well. Because of MSI’s consistency in sending students to Outward Bound, and our reputation for building local partnerships for funding the scholarship, Outward Bound has committed to longer term, for future years, funding of a significant portion student’s tuition. This commitment from Outward Bound depends on continued local business and organization participation.

Hanna Baade, the first participant on this program showed pictures of her trip when giving an interview to the local paper. It made a huge impact on her life. Ben Bailey who was leaving for his program just as Baade had returned, listened with quiet anticipation, but after having completed his Outward Bound experience, said it was a huge and fantastic experience.  He liked it so much his brother went the following year.

If you or your organization would like to donate to this worthwhile program, please contact R. Richards, Mountain Spirit’s Executive Director, at randy@mtnspirit.org/603-763-2668 for complete details. He will send you documents on the program description, search and selection criteria,  and how you can help with a donation.

The Northfield Conference, Oldest in Nation

19/03/2009
Extended Family's Mosaic & Feet

Extended Family's Mosaic & Feet

The Northfield Conference is the longest continuously running spiritual conference in the country. Started at the turn of the last century, it has developed into a strong network of devoted friends and colleagues and extended family. It’s one of the few instances where I saw whole families and people of of all ages being and acting like a true community. Many of the adults there now were children and then teens who grew up attending the annual conference held in Northfield, Mass every June or July. There is a morning meeting, then right after, small groups called families get together to debrief lives and share whatever is on the participants’ minds. At the end of our meeting we all felt like doing a goodbye group hug/”jelly roll” in which I was the lucky receipient of being in the middle.  In the afternoon, after lunch there’s a plethora of workshops and activities, from painting and yoga to dance and informational lectures or discussions on everything from global warming to composting and family communication. After dinner, there is usually an non-denominational evening service in the Northfield Chapel. I got the play the 12-foot concert grand piano at one event there. That was fun. Around 7 PM, different activities may happen such as a talent show, or coffeehouse, or games, lots of games, in which children of all ages participate.

Getting stuck in the middle of a group hug

Getting stuck in the middle of a group hug

If you’d like to inquire about the Northfield Conference, check out their website. First time participants get a free ride, all expenses paid, if they give some sort of workshop in exchange. It’s a way of getting more people to check out the conference. If I weren’t in New Zealand, I’d be there this spring. If you decide to attend, you won’t be disappointed.

Animals Like Music

18/03/2009
Animal-Guitar Lover

Animal-Guitar Lover

Another Study proves it, animals like music. Well, it’s not an official study, but an observation over the years. Watching birds come to the watering hole outside of Sedona Arizona years ago when I played my Native American Flute, and most recently-

Pied Kea Piper

Pied Kea Piper

I was playing my little Indian flute, which cost all of two dollars, and a Kea at French Ridge starting coming around, and singing on the off beat. He was perched on the roof for the longest time while I stood below, outside the hut looking up at him as I played.

I brought my “glacier guitar” up the crazy French Ridge Trail. (Maybe it was me that was crazy).

My Alpine Parrot Audience

My Alpine Parrot Audience

So I put it to good use, and attracted three kea who stood and listened for about 15 minutes. Again they would caw on the off beats when I’d hold a measure or two for them. We all had a grand time.

A Week at French Ridge

18/03/2009
The View from French Ridge Hut

The View from French Ridge Hut

I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at French Ridge Hut last week. We had an unusual clear spell of almost cloudless blue skies, day after day. More times than not, the wind can howl on this ridge, making it difficult to make the journey to the privy, perched on the ridge, (so helicopters can more easily pick up the poop canisters).

Near Mt. Avalanche-Gloomy Gorge

Near Mt. Avalanche-Gloomy Gorge

I recently heard of one fellow who was sent to his death when the hut he was in, was blown off the mountain. I’m sure some of the readers have been on a fire lookout tower in high winds, having complete trust in the structure. Hmmm. Makes one think.  Be sure to inquire or check to see if the hut you’re in has tie-down cables. French Ridge does not. I trust the architect, up to a point. It depends  on how strong are the gale force winds. This is a bit tongue in cheek, or ice axe in ground.

Waterfall Rainbow, Gloomy Gorge

Waterfall Rainbow, Gloomy Gorge

French Ridge and the environs is a magical place. It’s getting a lot of traffic from hikers as well as climbers. I was there later in the season, (just last week), when traffic to and from the Collin Todd Hut, and Mt. Aspiring had been halted due to the Quarterdeck section of glacier coming down from the Bonar Glacier was breaking up too badly to allow passage.

Monkeying around on the "Quarter Deck"

Monkeying around on the "Quarter Deck"

We decided to monkey around on the lower ramparts of the Quarterdeck anyway,  for a day of walking, crevasse rescue and rope team travel practice, and a little bit of climbing in some dramatic scenery. While we were rather restricted in where we could actually go, we still had fun. The dry glacier provided some great ice climbing practice. I love glacier ice, which is a far cry from New

More playing around on some "safe" broken up bits.

More playing around on some "safe" broken up bits.

Hampshire’s Frankenstein Cliff’s. I’ve just read a piece on climbing on the Fox Glacier that has me interested in doing some glacial ice there.

Kea in Flight w/Moon, French Ridge

Kea in Flight

At the hut and just above, Keas, which are amazing Alpine parrots,  seemed our constant companions. I figuring out when they would take off, and got some snaps of them in flight. One, at the hut, the other with Mt. Avalanche in the background just above the hut. They are very personable and curious creatures, if not troublesome.  When we arrived at the hut on Day 1, the door to the was open, and the keas had made themselves at home, leaving the place a mess.

Kea, Amanda, Mt Avalanche

Kea, Amanda, Mt Avalanche

Just across from the Hut, on the ramparts of Rob Roy, is an impressive waterfall. It’s interesting and beautiful because the water comes piling down and hits a flat plateau, shooting the water out into space, like a jet stream. Then when the sun is hitting the wall just right, a rainbow is formed.

The Adventure, continued

07/03/2009
Wet Socks in the Backcountry

Wet Socks in the Backcountry

The adventurers from Singapore, Shaun Lee and Karan Puri, (see earlier post) took me up on my offer in joining me in New Zealand’s backcountry. I don’t think the two would have ventured out in this territory on their own, in fact they mentioned the whole concept of “backcountry” didn’t exist in their country. Singapore is compact. Their eyes were wide when they first came up on the Rob Roy Glacier after a few miles up a steep trail, after a small swinging bridge. They then made the two hour trek to the Aspiring Hut with me. Their shoes were a bit wet after the hike, but after a warm meal they were feeling great. The following morning, they were on their way back to the trailhead, as they had reservations on the mountain shuttle.  They were a bit nervous, heading out in the rain, but I assured them they would make it. I assume they did! I’ve not heard from them.

‘Gross National Happiness’

07/03/2009
3 cups of Tea

Three cups of Tea

A Mountain Spirit Board member, plus a few others, have been telling me I need to read “Three Cups of Tea”  by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It’s a great story about persevering a dream of building a school for the children of Korphe, Pakistan. One passage, quoted below, reminds me of how gravitating back to sustainable cultures can make our lives saner. If you’ve not read Three Cups of Tea, I suggest you pick up a copy.
An excerpt from the book that caught my eye: 
“A book he’d read , Ancient Futures, by Helena Norberg-Hodge, was much on Mortenson’s mind. Norberg-Hodge has spend seventeen years living just south of these mountains in Ladakh, a region much like Baltistan, but cut off from Pakistan by the arbitrary borders colonial powers drew across the Himalaya. After almost two decades studying Ladakhi culture, Norberg Hodge has come to believe that preserving a traditional way of life in Ladakh-extended families living in harmony with the land- would bring about more happiness than “improving”  Ladakhis’ standard of living with unchecked development.

Ancient Futures

Ancient Futures

“I used to assume that the direction of ‘progress was somehow inevitable, not to be questioned,” she writes. “I passively accepted a new road through the middle of the park, a steel-and-glass bank where a 200-year-old church had stood…and the fact that life seemed to get harder and faster with each day. I do not anymore. In Ladakh I have learned that there is more than one path into the future and I have had the privilege to witness another, saner, way of life- a pattern of existence based on the co-evolution between human beings and the earth.”
Norberg-Hodge continues to argue not only that Western development workers should not blindly impose modern “improvements” on ancient cultures, but that industrialized countries had lessons to learn from people like Ladakhis about building sustainable societies. “I have seen,” she writes, “that community and close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication. I have learned that another way is possible.”
Norberg-Hodge admiringly quotes the king of another Himalayan country, Bhutan, who say the true measure of a nations success is not gross national product, but  ‘gross national happiness.”

Danish Family: “World is our Classroom”

07/03/2009
The Bagers in their "mountain classroom"

The Bagers in their "mountain classroom"

The Danish family of five had headlamps but had decided they didn’t need them.  The moonlight illuminated their way. They left the trailhead around dark and rode their mountain bikes on the single, sometimes double track up the valley, being sure to keep the Matuktuki River on their right. Dennis, the father, aside from briefly looking at the map, was going on memory. He had been in this place some 15 or twenty years prior, but that time he was high above this place, and almost slid off  Cascade Pass on snow covered wet grass, losing his fingernails while self arresting with hands and nose. This return trip had a different sense of adventure. He was returning with his wife Birgette and his three children Manus 10, Rasmus, and their little sister Frederikke, 7.  And this trip was part of a bigger adventure. He and Birgette were about a third of their way through a two year round-the-world educational odyssey with their kids.  They pedaled into Aspiring Hut around 11pm, tip toeing into the hut with their gear, careful not to disturb sleeping climbers and hikers.  I had heard they had just arrived , and what’s more that they had shipped their 1990 VW oversized camper complete with school books and bikes from Denmark through Asia, Australia, and were headed to South America after a good long stint in New Zealand I had to find out more.  The next morning I asked if I could interview them. Dennis jokingly said no but later agreed and even said I could get more info off their website.
MSI: Do you mind if I ask? How are you able to afford to take two years off with your whole family?

Dennis Bager: In Denmark there has been a law that allows either a man or a woman to take a family leave before their child is nine years old. This law has existed for two reasons. (more…)

Rock Flour = Turquoise Rivers

26/02/2009
Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Kerin Folks Flat on the Wilkin River is about an hour into an eight-hour trek to the Top Forks Hut area.  I’ll include more images of that area soon, but felt I had to post this image ASAP. “Rock flour” colours the water the brilliant turquoise blue that is visible in this image. Rock flour is a result of the glacier a few miles upriver, dragging and grinding rocks and stones between the bottom of the glacier and the ground. The curious color of the fine powder that comes out of the glacier’s terminus is the subject of many a tourist’s query. So I’ve been told, rock flour is simply mud that hasn’t been exposed to the air.  Once exposed, after a number of years, it turns brown.  In any event it sure makes for good images.  This is probably one of my favorite, even after being a professional photographer for a number of years.

 Top Forks is a remote part of Aspiring National Park, right in the center of the park, accessible from the Makarora West village area.  The highlight of the Top Forks valley is  Mt. Castor and Mt. Pollux from which hanging glaciers drop house-sized ice blocks throughout the day and night, making a roaring sound heard from the hut.

Inspirational People

26/02/2009
Karan Puri & Shawn Lee, Adventurers from Singapore

Karan Puri & Shaun Lee, Adventurers from Singapore

Karan Puri, 18 of Katong Province and Shaun Lee, 19 of Bedok province, Singapore, are not only really nice guys, they’re also inspiring. I’ve run into them here at the the Wanaka Hostel. Right now there  currently out biking around town somewhere. I found their motivation to travel New Zealand so inspiring I thought I’d share it with you.  I interviewed them last night over a beer, out here on the porch from where I write this piece.

Both Karan and Shawn have just finished high school and have about three months off, before they report for the mandatory 2-year military stint that all young men are required to do in Singapore.  When Karan first walked into the hostel I noticed he had a sense of inquiry and interest, not to mention compassion and friendliness. Later, upon meeting Shawn it I got the same sense of adventure and excitement.  They are now on day 6 of their adventure. So here’s some insight as to what brought them to Wanaka, New Zealand.

MSI: So what motivated you two to come to New Zealand?
Karan: To do something before the military. This is the first time on vacation without my parents, and I had been here in Wanaka when I was a child. Something about the place stuck with me. So I wanted to come back.
You see, one never really gets a break to travel if you’ve been brought up in Singapore. (more…)

Power of Place: Utah’s Canyonlands

24/02/2009
Looking W on Island in the Sky, Utah

Looking W on Island in the Sky, Utah

Although I was graduated from the University of Utah, and spent as much time in Utah, as in any other state, I had never been to CanyonlandsNational Park. I recently had the opportunity to kill some time while in Salt Lake waiting for a car repair, and decided to spend a few days and nights in the desert near Moab. My first stop was the Island in Sky. I spent a day exploring the plateau, taking pics, and scrambling among the sandstone outcrops. I miss the Utah desert, although New Zealand is hard to beat.

Navajo Sandstone: Canyonlands, Utah

Navajo Sandstone: Canyonlands, Utah

As an aside, I was driving here in New Zealand from Christchurch to Wanaka, and passed through canyon that reminds me of American Fork Canyon in Utah.  Anyway, after a couple of days on the Island, I did some work in Moab on MSI’s portable office, (the laptop) then moved on to the Needles area in the southern portion of the park. Here one can day hike or spend the night in the backcountry, and even drive around the park, although the latter is not high on my list. Along those lines, read Edward Abbey’s The Monkeywrench Gang, or Desert Solitaire on brilliant views about America’s relationship to wilderness. Oddly, I’m not sure his books have made it here downunder. I’ll keep you posted. 

Island in the Sky, Image:Steve Mulligan/USPS

Island in the Sky, Image:Steve Mulligan/USPS

The Utah desert has a power all its own. So, if you’ve not been I suggest you get there before you die. Put it on your bucket list. For more information on the MSI’s Utah Solo and Wilderness programs, please contact us. The US Park Service has some great resources for Canyonlands