Wilderness Quest, Utah

[Southwest USA]

I saw a tiny ad in a Buddhist magazine describing a “wilderness quest.” I got more information, and found myself two months later sitting on a rock looking out over a broad expanse of Utah landscape. For four days I was cut off from every daily habit. No music, no writing, no media, no food, no other people. I was only allowed cloths, a sleeping bag, a tarp, some rope, and five gallons of water. What would happen when I simply had to be with myself, and couldn’t reach for a the diversions of life? Could I handle the discomforts?

The four days were preceded by two days in camp being trained by group leaders Elias and Robia, who had taken an old Lakota Indian “vision quest” and applied it to people like me. We learned all sorts about Indian mythology and practice, including the rudiments of tracking. At the end of the second day each of the five participants went out and found our own camp. We then made several trips back and forth with the water. The next morning we did a ritual and headed out for the full four days.

It was a difficult and amazing experience. It was too windy for the tarp, and so I slept under a great old rock after I had cleared out mounds of old animal dung.

I had no profound or religious realizations the way that others did, but I vacillated from being totally mesmerized to being unbelievably bored as I moved slowly about that harsh, bright, stunning canyon environment filled with space and time.