Pushing boundaries out in the remote backcountry of Idaho
Constantly looking for something more and more challenging for me to do, I decided to pursue a career in federal law enforcement. Long story short: that was a flop. I put a lot into it but not 100%. However, during my training at the police academy, we had a five-day high-speed tactical driving course. Something was sparked deep within me during those few days. Something felt right. Maybe it’s those McLaren genes. When the instructors told us students when we first arrived to get out on the track and drive as fast as we possibly could because it would probably be the only chance we’d ever get to do that, my immediate reaction was “No! This can’t be my only chance!” Those five days at the police driving track were probably the most fun I had ever had up until then. The instructors told me that I had the best car control, especially in wet conditions, that they had ever seen. I would not forget the entire experience.
I must bring up the summer/fall of 2014. It was the most special season with the Forest Service that I ever had and it truly helped form a lot of who I am today. I accepted a seasonal position as a ranger out at the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. It is the largest designated Wilderness area in the US outside of Alaska. My duty station was a cabin without electricity that I had to be flown out to and dropped off at a remote backcountry airstrip at the beginning of the season to spend a few months out there. Food and mail were dropped off by plane once a week. I was extremely excited about such an adventure before I went out there. Once I was dropped off at the very beginning with a couple other Wilderness rangers to spend a fourteen-day backpacking trip over 60 miles doing trail work, it hit me that I was seriously out in the middle of absolute nowhere and if something were to go very wrong, help was several hours away if lucky. By the end of the first month out there, I was going to quit and go back to civilization because I didn’t think that I could handle it for another five months. I was afraid of what could happen out there. But something stopped me. I decided to stay out there. And it ended up being the most incredible, amazing, and rewarding summer of my life. Memories haunt me of being out there - of what it’s like to be completely removed from the rest of the modern world, not having the use of a cell phone or internet, hand-written letters sent and delivered by a plane being the only means of communication with the outside world. It truly taught me that if you decide to completely step outside of your comfort zone, no matter how scary it may be, one is always capable of far more than what one could ever imagine. And that incredible experience and what it taught me always will remain with me throughout life.