The SOUTHEAST – Orientation and Motivation

The SOUTHEAST – Orientation and Motivation

by. Kyle Koch

Let’s take a journey into the SOUTHEAST. This is a place of rapid growth, deeper orientation, electricity, rapid growth, child’s passions, motivation, and vitality. The Ordinal directions represent a place of transitions from one direction to the next. If the EAST is new growth and birth the SOUTHEAST represents the rapid growth and adolescences.

We can find ourselves in this place in the learning cycle, while engaged in programs such as our Anake Outdoor School. If you are teaching and in the SOUTHEAST part of the cycle, the first step is to inspire your student and the second step is to motivate them. Kids often leave our Summer Camps Inspired and excited to continue working on the skills they’ve learned that week. But recently I’ve been hearing from campers that this only happens for a couple days or weeks until, eventually, the inspiration wears off and there aren’t people around to help motivate them.

So how do we motivate? Here at the Wilderness Awareness School we do this is many ways. One of the most powerful ways is through child’s passions–like games!! We teach many core routines and daily practices at our school that deep our student’s connection with themselves, each other and the natural world. We have found that is not always enough to just tell the students to go and do these things because they will make you healthy and happier. I know that running every morning is good for me but I don’t always have the personal motivation to do it, right? I’m sure we all have something like this in our lives we can relate to. So what we have done is intermixed all of our core routines into games and activities. This way the students are experiencing all the core routines, overcoming fears, learning the curriculum, developing trust, being quiet, listening, teambuilding, pushing their edges–and they don’t even really know it, until maybe after the fact. This is all done through the motivation to win or play the game.


On a teaching team the SOUTHEAST is the person in charge of facilitating games, activities, and helping with transitions. This person also tends to have a natural child-like curiosity and vitality about them. They are playful and ask questions with genuine curiosity and lead by example.

The indicator of awareness for this shield is aliveness and agility. I’ve also heard it described as the health and vitality of a wolf or coyote. This shows up in our students as putting one’s whole self into something, awakened bodies channeled into meaningful connections, and quick reflexes.

Things associated with the SOUTHEAST: Rapid growth, adolescences, child’s passions, games, play, health, vitality, aliveness, agility, motivation, deeper orientation, YouTube phase, late spring/early summer, porcupine and otters.

Learn more about the medicine wheel model of learning by following our blog, and if you would like to learn about connecting with nature at our 9-month program, check out the Anake Outdoor School.


The EAST and Inspiration

The EAST and Inspiration

by. Kyle Koch

Imagine for a moment that first day of spring, when you wake up in the morning and the sun is rising in the east, the new green plants and shoots are emerging from the earth. The lovely song birds have returned from there winter migration and are singing in the bushes outside your house. This is the feeling of the EAST. Starting a new day, new season, or new task, with inspiration and excitement.

We use this concept in the natural learning cycle to inspire our students at the Anake Outdoor  School, and all our programs at Wilderness Awareness School, about whatever topic we may be covering that day, week, or month. An example of this would be demonstrating a skill such as bow drill to get kids excited to work on making their fire kits later that day, or telling an inspiring story about a great tracker or personal tracking experience to get them excited to go track wildlife that day.

The EAST is also a place of welcoming your participants and helping orient them to a particular place. Examples would be showing people where they can set up their tents, get potable water, bathrooms, food storage, and things that would help them feel comfortable and welcomed enough to be able to take care of their needs. As part of welcoming, it is also important to make people aware of hazards as well. Think of things like stinging nettle, bee’s nests, off-limits areas, cougars, bears, or whatever your environment has to offer. Once people feel safe and that their needs are taken care of it helps them better engage in activities.


From a facilitation standpoint, the person holding the direction of the EAST is in charge of welcoming and helping to orient people as they arrive and/or orient them in an introductory group discussion. They also, help to wake people up in the morning, welcome people back from activities, give announcements, and make sure students have all things they need for the day or next activity.

We place Common Sense in the EAST as 1 of the 8 indicators of awareness. Common Sense is defined as “good sense and sound judgment in practical matters”. We find that feeling welcomed into a new place and being aware of the hazards helps you make smart choices about how to take care of your personal needs, help those around you, and what is appropriate behavior for a given situation.

Things we associate with the EAST are Birth, Sunrise, Springtime, Beginnings, Hazards, Welcoming, and Inspiration.

Learn more about connecting with nature at our 9-month program, the Anake Outdoor School.



Tracking Intensive: How Our Graduates Are Making An Impact

Tracking Intensive: How Our Graduates Are Making An Impact

Written by Marcus Reynerson, Tracking Intensive Instructor

A couple of years ago, a student of our Tracking Intensive shared this about her experience: “I walked into this year not knowing a  thing about wildlife track and sign. Now I can look around the woods and tell a story about what transpired.”

Every year, a similar sentiment pervades the experiences of our graduates after completing the program. It is obvious to me that we are doing something that works, and I can speak to that very personally. It did the same for me five years ago, when I was a student myself.

The Wildlife Tracking Intensive at Wilderness Awareness School is a nine-month immersion into the study of all things tracking. Through repeated focus on our “Six Arts of Tracking” — Identification, Interpretation, Aging, Ecological Study, Trailing and Intuitive Development — we offer students the breadth of skills necessary to become a well-rounded tracker. While most of the curricula centers on Pacific Northwest ecology, the skills we impart are transferable anywhere in North America, and, as some of our graduates assure us, anywhere in the world. The Tracking Intensive provides in-depth training in the art and science of wildlife tracking for both beginner and advanced students. Visiting a diversity of habitats from the coastal dunes of Oregon to the high deserts of eastern Washington, to the steep relief of the North Cascades, participants have the opportunity to study and track a great variety of wildlife species.

Wilderness Awareness School has successfully delivered long-term tracking training programs for nearly eighteen years, facilitated by a stellar team of Instructors and teaching assistants. On a typical weekend, students gather Saturday morning to spend a day in the field or classroom, studying topics ranging from foot morphology, to mammal skull structure, to the fundamentals of drawing and journaling. Saturdayevenings find us sharing stories around a fire or enjoying a presentation on new material, while Sundays are focused on gaining more field experience under the mentorship of instructors.

Our approach to tracking education is unique in our emphasis on applying these skills to real-world social and environmental situations. In addition to our goal of enriching students’ lives through powerful nature connection, we place a premium on making this ancestral skill practical in a modern world. A prime example of this is our partnership with Conservation Northwest to implement the Citizens Wildlife Monitoring Project (CWMP).  This connectivity project, co-created during the 2006-07 class by two Tracking Intensive students, Roy Ashton and Mallory Clarke, collects data on wildlife use along the I-90 corridor through the Cascade Mountains, before and after construction of wildlife tunnels and bridges. What’s more is that this project, now underway for a decade, has been approved by Washington State and the bridges are under construction. This is real conservation in action. Indeed, many of our graduates are also taking the experiences and skills they gained through the program into their own work locally and abroad.

After graduating in 2007, Roy was an assistant on a Wild Dog research program in Zimbabwe using methods learned in collaboration with traditional Shona trackers. He later spent two years training and working as a safari guide in Kruger National Park. He worked one-on-one with Shangaan trackers — some of whom are reputed to be among the best trackers in the world — following leopards, lions and rhinoceros. Roy spoke of his time with the Tracking Intensive: “The program gave me an amazing capacity to communicate and work with the Shangaan trackers, who have been tracking their whole lives. While their trailing skills exceeded mine, my track and sign interpretation, in some cases, was just as precise.”

Mallory, a Tracking Intensive graduate of both the basic and advanced program (2007 through 2008), is a retired teacher at Garfield High School in south Seattle. After helping to get the CWMP off the ground, Mallory now serves as the project’s Assistant Coordinator. She has also been involved in other northwest conservation projects, including wildlife studies for Forterra (formerly known as the Cascade Land Conservancy), and mammal surveys for Northwest Trek, a local zoo dedicated to education and protection of Pacific Northwest species. According to Mallory: “I feel like I mastered a skill. I remember walking in a park in Seattle with a friend once. I knelt down next to a coyote track and explained why I knew it was coyote and not a dog. While my friend was blown away, it felt completely normal to me. I realized, even though I wanted to know more, I had gained a significant level of skill and knowledge. The outdoors used to be simply a place to go have fun, but now it is also where I go for solace, retreat and reflection.”

Dr. Tom Murphy, PhD, chair of the Anthropology Department at Edmonds Community College (ECC) in Edmonds, Washington is a 2009 graduate. In partnership with AmeriCorps, he has created an environmental anthropology program that trains students in wildlife track identification and interpretation, so they can gather data for local government agencies and nonprofits. Wildlife monitoring has been an integral component of the Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) School at ECC since its inception in 2006. While their wildlife projects initially focused solely on fish and shellfish studies, the Tracking Intensive enabled Dr. Murphy to expand their work from the beaches and rivers up into the mountains and forests across the state. Students in the LEAF School now monitor wildlife passage structures and corridors for Snohomish County Public Works, the Cities of Mukilteo, and the Snoqualmie Tribe, amongst others.

In addition to Roy, Mallory and Tom, there are over 100 other graduates of the Tracking Intensive over the last eight years out in the world doing terrific work. From projects with the international tracking standardization process, Cyber Tracker Conservation, to work with the Metro Park system in Vancouver British Columbia; from a wilderness living School in Austin Texas, to an outdoor leadership program in Johannesburg South Africa; from elementary school nature education in Monterey California, to 75% of the instructors working here at Wilderness Awareness School, our graduates are taking the skills acquired in the Tracking Intensive and using them in the world. This practice exemplifies the success of meaningful nature connection — bettering individual lives and helping create participatory, place-based communities and a healthy land.

There are still spaces open in this year’s Tracking Intensive.  Follow the link for more details and to register –

The Medicine Wheel Model of Learning

I was first introduced to the concept of the Medicine Wheel in 2011 when attending the Anake Outdoor School. It was used as a model to show the Natural Learning Cycle of humans. It was explained to me in many different layers that made a lot of sense. And after being steeped in it for 9 months I found it worked incredibly well. It works as not only a way to teach and track your students’ progress but also as a way to organize a team of facilitators. The Medicine Wheel is organized with the 8 directions of a compass East, SE, S, SW, W, NW, N, NE with each direction representing a core area of the curriculum, human traits, tasks to accomplish and more. Over the course of the next 8 weeks I will be focusing on 1 direction or shield and diving deeper into what it represents, how it shows up in students and how it can organize your teaching team or group of facilitators, but for now I will give you the big picture overview.

For now we will explain the Medicine Wheel as it relates to time of day and time of year. We will start with the Cardinal directions and then Ordinal directions.

Let’s start in the East, why, because that’s where the sun rises when we start our day. Yes, I know the sun does not always rise directly in the East, depending on time of year and where you are located on the globe. We will be speaking from the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere and in generalities. East also represents the springtime and new beginnings of plants and life.

South- Represents mid-day, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky the sun resides directly in the South. It also represents the summer time and the solstice, the longest day of the year. It seems that we are all most active during this time of year.

West- Represents the end of the day, the time and place where the sun sets. The time of day when family’s gather around the dinner table and time of year when people gather for the Fall harvest

North-Represents the evening and Winter. The time of year when nights are longer than the day. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. The time of stillness and Solitude.

As you can imagine the ordinals are the transitions between each direction. We will dive into those later in this series.

Hopefully this give you an understanding of the natural cycle and flow of things which, in our upcoming series, we will overlay how this relates to our curriculum, how you can apply it to your teaching style, organize your teaching team, and the 8 indicators that show up in your students when this is working.

Also, check out what adventures might be in store for you when spending a year connecting with nature at the Anake Outdoor School

David and Bunny4lighter

Looking Ahead After Anake

Looking Ahead After Anake

by David Wolbrecht

And now, it is over. My time as an Anake Outdoor School student has come to a close. Wow.Similar to my my classmate, Rachel, I find that the story of my time these past nine months is one longer than I can tell. Full as it was with learning, failing, growing, laughing, and crying, this chapter of my life is one that I will cherish deeply and reflect upon often. For now, though, I find myself eagerly looking ahead at the various ways in which the threads of my life are weaving together to create the rich and supple fabric of my time here on Earth. I’d like to share a few of those threads.

I’ll be continuing my naturalist studies by enrolling in the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. During Anake, I eagerly deepened my knowledge and connection to the nonhuman world by fully accomplishing the Anake Naturalist Certification, an optional level of completion for the program based on fulfilling a set of journals, essays, and other written assignments. I find myself drawn to a book-learning style of study as an accompaniment to my experiential naturalist journey, and Kamana is as good as it gets. My goal at this time is to complete the entirety of Kamana, which I’ve since learned is fairly uncommon. Time will tell whether I reach that goal.

Cyber TrackerOn a similar vein, I’m eager to continue my learning journey as a tracker. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve become enraptured by the stories of the landscape, specifically as expressed through the evidence of nonhumans moving and living in and around our human communities. I took the Cybertracker Evaluation last month and received a score of 89 – one point shy of Level III certification. Although realizing it was a lofty goal, I’d been aiming at a Level III score. Ultimately I’m very pleased with my performance and learned a ridiculous amount about track and sign in the process. Nonetheless, I’m planning on getting out there to track, journaling what I find, and taking the Cybertracker Evaluation again in a year, and my goal at this time is to reach the level of Specialist (the next step up from Level III, requiring a perfect score on an especially hard, special test).

I’m currently working as a summer camp instructor and director for Wilderness Awareness School for my second year in a row. In many ways, working for WAS Summer Camps is the fourth and final quarter of Anake, as I’m employing the Coyote Mentoring style of nature connection to my time with 6-12 year olds. Tiring at times, yet overall deeply fulfilling, it’s incredibly fun to apply so much of my experience, knowledge, and skills gained in Anake in a direct way that inspires and excites young humans. I’m planning to further my development as a mentor by being an Anake Apprentice next year through the Anake Leadership Program, and I’m excited to be of service to this transformative experience.

IMG_1426Yes, this is a time of endings. Yet, as with all endings in life, I’m stepping into a new chapter that’s full of beginnings. At times in my life, I’ve resisted new beginnings because of the unknown, but I trust myself enough now to proceed with courage to confidently face whatever life throws my way. Besides, like the fledgling kinglet in the hands of my colleague, Chris Smith, and the baby cottontail in my own, beginnings are just so fuzzy and cute. I’m unsure where these new trails will take me and what tales I’ll tell when I’m done, but I find myself exhilarated, nervous, and inspired by the open skies and fields ahead of me.

Come and see what adventures might be in store for you when spending a year connecting with nature at the Anake Outdoor School

Anake fire closin circleGalleries

Looking Back on Anake

Looking Back on Anake

By. Rachel Shopper

We do so many things throughout the year at The Anake Outdoor School  it’s hard to answer the question, “what will I get from Anake?”

Here is a recent graduates reflection on the year.

How was your year?  I just returned to North Carolina, and everyone wants to know about my experience.

How do I even begin?  It’s a story longer than I can tell.  It’s a spider web shaped like a double helix.  It’s a dream that happened in real life.Anake fire wood plank

I left my home and went to live in a land where the maple trees weave themselves like baskets growing out of the ground.  They are covered in moss and when the sun hits them just right, they glow.  With thirty-eight other people, each of whom had a totally different life story, perspective, and set of expectations, I walked into a little building with an earthen floor and a fire pit in the center.  We went on a journey.  Many journeys, in fact.  We got dirty.  We asked questions.  We covered our eyes.  We opened our eyes.  We moved through the landscape.  We quarreled.  We found deep respect.  We were vulnerable.  We told stories.  We made fire.  We shared food.  We stepped into our power.  We stepped into our senses.  We took responsibility to create a culture among ourselves that was meaningful.  We did more than can be told or understood.

anake fire welcom back

And then we said goodbye.

As I drove back across the country, I carried so much with me.  Buckskins, herbal medicines, fire kits.  Songs on my breath.  Memories in my muscles.  A new way of seeing, a new way of speaking, and a new way of questioning.  I carried huge love in my heart for so many people.  People who are patient, and loving, and beautifully flawed, and courageous.  They taught me so many ways to look at the world, and to love it.  I carried with me experiences that transformed who I am and how I walk in the world.  I believe in myself more.  And I believe in the future more, that it can be beautiful.  Although I will miss them, I am glad that my classmates have been flung across the world like stars across the sky.  Every time I call one of them to share a story, or ask advice, or invite them to challenge themselves, I am weaving a constellation.  Every time one of us contributes to our communities, or spends a half hour looking at the plants and counting flower petals, or helps someone get their first bowdrill coal, we are weaving a constellation.


It is an honor to have been part of my class.  It will always be an honor.  I feel I have been given a gift too big to repay in any other way than by living a life worthy of such generosity. I hope I can pay it forward.

Come join us and see what adventures might be in store for you at The Anake Outdoor School!

Anake water intentions

Wild Edible Community meal

Dirt Made My Lunch

A story from one of our students at Anake Outdoor School on harvesting wild edibles for a community feast:

Dirt Made My Lunch

By Rachel Shopper

As I step onto the smooth, dry log, it sinks a foot under the water of the swamp.  I’m going to go for it, I tell my classmate Nick.  Twelve harrowing steps later, I make it to the other side of the log and step onto the “bank” of hardhack, water iris, and cattail root mass.  I squat down and follow a tall dry stalk to the base of the water.  Its side flatten to an oblong shape.  No good.  I feel a couple more until I find one that is circular all the way down, and I begin to dig my fingers through the network of roots and decaying grasses until I come to a rhizome.  It is a long root that connects this plant to a network of other cattail plants, and I work my hand about a foot along the root before I yank it.  After numerous indelicate grunts, the root snaps and I almost go flying into the swamp.  Nick and I each gather a few more cattail roots, and I also pull several young shoots that are poking up out of the water like long thin ice cream cones turned upside down.  Oh, no. Let’s not think about ice cream.

Wild Edibles Cattail

We go back inside to boil two pots of water and turn on the toaster oven.  We wash the roots and shoots. Into one pot of water, we cut the roots into two-inch segments.  Into the other, we place nettles, dandelion greens, plantain leaves, waterleaf, fireweed shoots, and salmonberry shoots.  Much like leeks, we cut the cattail shoots where they fade from white to green, and peel off the tough outer leaves.  Then we lay them in the toaster oven.  I scarf down three handfuls of dried wild blueberries like they’re the invention of chocolate, and then I sit down and take a big sigh, feeling like Indiana Jones at the end of a long day.

Wild Edibles Nettles

When I was a kid, a frequent refrain around bedtime was my parents’: everything is harder when you’re tired.  I never really believed them, but they always seemed to think that whatever difficulty I was having would slide into perspective once I realized I was freaking out with exhaustion.  My new refrain is, everything is harder on wild edibles day.  This spring, I have been challenging myself to spend one day each week eating nothing but wild edibles.

Why would I do this?

  • Because wild foods are vastly more nutritious than cultivated foods.  We’ve bred the flavor and the nutrients out of our foods.
  • Because eating wild foods helps me feel connected to the natural life cycle that is my birthright as an inhabitant of planet earth.  I am made of the things that grow out of and upon the earth.  They become me, and someday after I die I will become them again.
  • Because eating wild foods connects me with a clarity and vitality that I also feel when I am fasting.
  • Because so many times when I am eating I am eating for pleasure or distraction.  A wild foods diet breaks that habit pattern.
  • And, because in eleven days, it’s all I’m going to be eating for five days straight during survival week, so I had better get used to it and learn about how I function on a wild foods diet.

Like I said, there is clarity and vitality.  Paradoxically, there is also total brain fog.  Accomplishing tasks is hard.  Making decisions is downright outrageous.  And so I connect to a slowness and a presence much yearned for in the coconut-oil-and-bacon-fueled hysteria that passes for my life most days.  I also have to pause whenever problem-solving or patience is in order, take a deep breath, and remind myself that evCommunity Wild Edible mealerything is harder when I’m tired.  Wild Edible Community meal

Nick and I sit down to eat our big meal.  The soup is a symphony of flavors, floral and bitter and rich.  The shoots taste a little like bamboo shoots, and have been compared to asparagus, although I don’t taste much resemblance.  We chew the starch out of the roots and spit the fibers back out.  They taste like a combination of potatoes and sugar cane, and as the only starch I’ve eaten all day, it’s like heaven.  Gratitude wells up inside me, that so much of our planet is edible.  It’s all around me, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

*For a great article on cattails as food, check out Eat the Weeds:

*Click to Apply or find out more information about the Anake Outdoor School

Anake Student Wood Carving

The Tracks We Leave Behind

The Tracks we leave behind
by David Wolbrecht

Anake Tracking Sandpiper
I’ll be an Anake Outdoor School graduate in three weeks. I’ve been paying attention to the unfolding of growth this spring, have witnessed the migrations this past winter, and felt the retreat of chlorophyll last autumn. Yet, despite tracking time as expressed in the cycles of the natural world far more closely than ever in my life, it still feels surreal that my time at Anake is coming to its end. How can a time so rich and overflowing with aliveness still feel like it passed in the beat of a hummingbird’s wing?

As I write this, we’re on the eve of plunging into the culminating experience of the program, an intense three weeks known for being a Anake tracking Muskrattransformative crucible of connection and expansion. I don’t quite know what will come in the coming weeks and thus find myself reflecting on what has been in the previous months. What have I learned, what have I done, what will I carry forward?

One tangible difference in who I am now versus who I was when I entered the program is my newfound passion for the art and science of tracking – that is, reading the various large and small signs that animals leave on the landscape. There is a story embedded in every set of muskrat tracks, every sign of sandpipers feeding. I’m hooked on sleuthing the subtle clues left from these happenings, and I find fulfillment in piecing them together to help me understand more of who else is living in this great tangle of life that I find myself in and what sort of lives they lead. Having spend a lot of time studying tracks, journaling various species, and regularly attending tracking club, I’m eager to take a Cybertracker Evaluation for Track and Sign Interpretation a week after graduation. This test is an international standard for competence that originated in Africa, and I’m looking forward to learning much from a focused two days of tracking.

Anake Student Wood Carving

This past year I also explored a curiosity I’ve had with wood carving. In addition to our naturalist home study materials, we were given the option of creating self-defined projects that explored an area of interest related to some piece of the curriculum. I was drawn in learning more about the history and function of carved cedar poles in the cultures of various native Pacific Northwest coastal peoples, with a focus on experiential learning (i.e. carving a pole). Possessing no experience with carving, I opted to employ a style that was more approachable for my newness. I decided to create what I call a Lineage Pole, a roadmap of sorts that illustrates Wilderness Awareness School’s influential founders and evolution of its programs through symbolic forms of my own creation. The result was a ten and a half foot story of the school that I handed over to their care and which now resides affixed to the southwest corner of Cedar Lodge on the school’s land.

I’m still processing all that I learned from the many hours I spent sketching, chiseling, and sanding, but one of the major themes I see is legacy. That which is left behind is an emphasis of both tracking and carving, and I find it fascinating that these two areas were how I spent the majority of my time during the winter and spring sessions. Animal tracks and sign are among the most obvious direct reminders of their lives on the land, just as carving is an obvious remainder of focused human life. Just as tracking helps us better understand the stories of the landscape, I see now that I was hoping my carving would similarly help us better understand the stories of this place, Wilderness Awareness School.

It’s no coincidence that comprehending story ended up being a big focus of my time here at Anake, as I’ve been actively exploring stories of my early life and my family heritage for the last couple years. In my searching, I find myself wondering: What’s to learn from the stories of our lives? What do we leave behind? What tracks define our legacy? I don’t know that I’ll ever find answers to these questions, but I hold them close nonetheless.

Learn more about Anake Outdoor School or apply today.


Anake California Trip Part 5: Adventures in the Redwoods

The Anake California Trip was coming to a close as we left Quail Springs and headed north towards home. We had one last major stop, The Humboldt Redwoods.IMG_1264

After almost 12 long hours of driving and traveling over 500 miles, We found ourselves surrounded by tall, dark towering giants you can barely make out, so late into the night. Everyone pretty much just ate dinner and went straight to bed, hoping to get an early start for the adventures that awaited us on the landscape.

I woke up the next day to discover I was surround by these magnificent ancient giants. I quickly rolled out of my sleeping bag and prepared for the day. We had only a few hours to explore this land so efficiency was crucial. I synced up with one of the other students, Colin, and we set off into the woods.IMG_1292

We first found ourselves in deep conversation reflecting on the journey so far. Then we were both mesmerized and by the stark contrast of the open desert we left the day before and the dense forest of the Rredwoods. We then found ourselves drawn off trail by a fallen tree that made a lovely path towards the river.



As we explored the thickets along the river our attention turned to the animal trails that skirted the river’s edge. We very clearly saw raccoon trails and grey fox trails going in opposite directions. But there was another much larger track that drew our attention. It had 4 toes with claws showing and an “M” shaped heel pad.


We looked at several tracks and asked ourselves lots of questions, trying to refrain from jumping to conclusions of what we both thought and, hoped it was. We surveyed our surroundings following the tracks up river and back tracking down river for a few hours to confirm what we thought it was. Finally we came to the conclusion that it was in fact, a Mountain Lion!!

We came back to camp with pictures to confirm with Marcus, our lead instructor, that it was indeed a Mountain Lion. He too, found the tracks of this animal and added that you can see the sexual dimorphism in the tracks and not only was it a Mountain Lion but a Female. We were both blow away.


It is so amazing to see how just a little knowledge of animal tracks can turn a short wander in the forest into an epic Sherlock Holmes mystery, interpreting the stories of the landscape.

Check out other stories from our California Adventure. Check out our Website for more information or Apply Today!






Anake California Trip Part 4: Village Life

Village Life

by Kyle Koch

Excepts from my journal during the Anake Outdoor School’s California Expedition in February;

“I’ve just been informed it has been 5 days since we’ve entered this desert oasis and will be leaving in the early morning…”

“I found myself and others feeling a great sadness to leave this place, but at the same time filled with so much gratitude that a place like this exists in the word…”

“We now travel North for 3 days before we arrive to Linne Doran, the place we call home. Our first stop will be to visit the towering ancestor Redwoods.IMG_1269


Then to greet the ocean to rejuvenate our bodies and spirit before traveling through the Willamette Valley up into the Klamath Mountains. and finally home, in the forests below the Cascade Mountains. We ask for safe travels as our kindred spirits sing us off into the Sunrise…”


Living life as an intentional nomadic village was such a powerful experience.IMG_0946
There was no need to keep track of time. You knew it wastime to get up when you heard the voices of your peers gently singing you awake, Lunch and Dinner were marked by the ringing of the bell, and you could sleep or nap whenever your body called for it. There were always people ready and willing to support your needs.

During the day work was done joyously with laughter, silliness, gratitude, intention, and play. Or you could wander the land with friends and strangers. Then every evening we would all gather together to share food and our stories of the day. The dinners were made with so much heart felt love that nourished my body and soul. At night we would retire under the stars for restful sleep. The timeless and connection to people and place on this trip was profound.


When I returned home I had trouble readjusting to my modern schedule. My phone and the clock became foreign objects I had to relearn how to use. Grocery shopping, traffic, and laundry became new priorities in my life. I am now back and readapted to technology and responsibilities of my life. But I still leave those all behind when I head into the woods or wander off to my sit spot.

I feel this trip really taps into an ancestral part of ourselves. Living in a village, telling stories around a fire, wandering the land in searchIMG_1234 of animal tracks, tending the plants, building homes for family and so much more. This is an experience I feel we can all benefit from. I am really grateful for being a part of our California Adventure and will carry these lessons with me wherever I go.







Check out other stories from our California Adventure. Check out our Website for more information or Apply Today!