In just a few days we are to embark on our 5th annual PTSD Recovery Expedition.
The first leg of our expedition we will flip a 300 pound tractor tire up a avalanche path to the top of Goat Mountain while shackled in 60 pounds of solid steep chains while living completely off grid deep in the beautiful mountains of British Columbia Canada.
Our first task was to head up the avalanche path to find a good safe place to set up Base Camp. We grabbed our hatchet , some lunch and set out to find a new place to call home for a few weeks.
Our first challenge was to figure out how we are going to get all of our camping supplies, food and water up to basecamp so we decided to start at the very bottom of the path, and work our way up , while doing so hoping that we could load up at ATV with all of our gear since we do not have mules or horses at our Camp ( yet )
As we picked our way through the dense forest we came to the first opening where the ancient snow, mud and ice path had been carving it’s way through the side of the mountain for centuries.
Here is where I call “the Graveyard”.
Back in mid Aug 2009 the entire province of British Columbia was on fire.
I stood here in the Graveyard as my mind flashed back to 2009 as if it were still on fire.
I’ll never forget the smell of smoke, the death crackle of 100’s of thousands of hectares of forest being consumed by the fire breathing devil itself.
( look closely – helicopter )
It’s one thing to be a forest firefighter , but when the devil’s breath is breathing havoc only 1000 metres from your family home, right in your own back yard, your community is on fire is surely another thing all together.
Our team was first on scene when the fire was only a small bush fire in a back yard, within 1/2 hour it had consumed the entire one side of Goat Mountain.
I recall not sleeping more than maybe 20 minutes a day for 25 days straight until we had the fire under control. I was sent home back to whistler to rest.
While Jill and I were hiking up the avalanche path, I couldn’t help but think back to those days when I had only been home for about 20 minutes when the phone rang. It was a friend of mine calling from the rink asking if I could come and play hockey.
I had just spent over 3 weeks deeply immersed in a burning hot hell of an inferno, what I referred to at the time as WW3 , I recall thinking how nice it would be to grab my my goalie gear, and just stand on the nice cool ice and stop pucks for a bit.
I’ll be right there.
After about a 2 km hike up the side of Goat Mountain we arrived at beautiful location, 1/2 way up the side of the burn in a large opening over looking the valley and right up to the to of the Goat.
Now, where would we set up our Camp, the land beneath us was rugged, extremely uneven we looked around a few places where we could set up base camp.
I looked across the meadow and had a vision, a feeling of where would be a perfect place to lay our heads and wake each day on this journey.
I took a walk over and stood there for a few minutes and could feel , this was the place where we needed to build a floor for our shelter.
I stood there for a minute then laid down and just thought back to when I went out to get my goalie gear from the shed through my bag over one shoulder, my pads around the other and grabbed both my sticks and headed for the rink.
I had only got about 50 feet to the driveway when al of a sudden I buckled over and collapsed to the ground. I suddenly started shaking as if I was naked in the middle of the north pole – 60 degrees snowing sideways.
I laid there and shook so cold, shivering uncontrollably while my legs lay twisted with my hockey gear crumpled on top of me.
My teeth started chattering like never before, I immediately started to think I was having a stroke, my heart rate went up, pulse pounding, while I began to sweat profusely. If I didn’t get warm in the next 5 seconds I was going to die.
I dragged myself into the house, and yelled at my Angel to call a ambulance, Im going to die, I need help.
I got under the blankets in my bed and shivered so uncontrollably I had no idea what was happening to me, My Angel panicked , what can I do ?
I could not even answer her as I was trying not to let my chattering teeth touch each other in fear they would all shatter from shaking so hard.
I breathed and breathed as much as hot air into my self while buried under the blankets as much as I could, and tried to stay calm, but this phenomenon was something I had never ever experienced, a feeling of near death looms over you , while I just shook my head, toes curled, still sweating immensely but all while feeling as though I was hypothermic and frost bite was consuming my every vein.
My brothers from the Fire Dept showed up first, my Friend Captain David Rushbrook looked at me sadly and asked what happened Terrance ?
I tried to tell him we had been fighting this forest fire for a few weeks on end but the words didn’t come out of my mouth.
I was so embarrassed as I lay there buried under my blankets, curled up in a fetal position dying a miserable and not very honourable death.
I jumped up and said to Jill, this is the spot, lets start gathering up some timbers.
While Jill cleaned up a nice path way in and out of our spot, we had started grabbing long dead trees and debarking them.
Since there was only 2 of us there we had a lot of work to do, but nothing made me more happy than to just be in the moment and not be shivering on my death bed again.
The paramedics arrived and it took over 1/2 hour for me to even let them remove the blankets, in total fear of one more small gust of cold air i would be sure to die.
They continued to blanket me up, and ran an IV of some sort, packaged me up on a spine board and rushed me to the Emergency Medical Centre.
The ER doctors came in, after what ever they gave me in the ambulance kicked in, I was somewhat more calm and relaxed. I explained to the Doctor the past few weeks rambling on in gibberish about this ferocious fire that consumed our community , homes, property, livestock, and all animals in the forest, on and on how absolutely devastating this disaster was.
They kept me there for 24 hours and ran many blood tests , only to determine and come back with a diagnosis of “dehydration”, and sent me on my way.
Ive never felt so stupid, so ashamed so weak to have fought mother natures wrath for weeks on end, facing sure death at every turn, every tree down and the weeks of endless flames only to have been buckled to my knees and sent to the hospital for being “dehydrated”?
Not one firefighter saw the signs, not one paramedic knew what was wrong, and not one single ER doctor, nurse or blood test told what we the real problem was.
You can not see it, test it, or medically diagnose the over whelming amount of “energy” that the autonomic nervous system was trying to shake off when it reached its capacity.
Energy that had been given off naturally since responding to the fire minute 1 , to protect me the organism to survive.
My nervous system didn’t say or see that “Im a firefighter, it didn’t see my protective gear, it didn’t see my community or home, nor did it just need water, a few extra training classes and some sleep – it responded accordingly, naturally not through thought or on demand rather automatically and unconsciously. This is a good thing, and is the only reason why humans have evolved for 1000’s of years thanks to our natural. instinctual responses per design.
What the first responders and doctors didn’t know is that by bundling me up, giving an IV ( while very grateful ) and basically cuddling me back to earth is that they unknowingly stopped the biological process of the shaking off of the energy therefore trapping that energy in my nervous system.
This is very bad for the human, and this is the absolute main contributing factor as to why humans today suffer with what they call “PTSD”.
I’ll tell ya one thing for sure. It is truly an honour to be on this expedition with Ms. Jillian A Brown
Her knowledge of the great outdoors, passion and drive for such wilderness adventures and especially for a cause dear to her heart also is very inspiring to be around.
Her fun loving positive energy and appreciation for the natural world always attracts the beautiful animals in her forest.
We would spend the next few hours cutting numerous timbers for the floor to our shelter.
Enjoying the fresh mountain air, not a worry about the time , the weather or anything else that maybe going on in the world out there for here in the backcountry mountains nothing has changed since the beginning of time.
This expedition is aimed to bring awareness, education, knowledge and positive healthy natural recovery tools to all humans through sharing our lived experience and demonstrating what has worked best for both Jill and I to help recover and manage our “energy” .. naturally.
Our main goal is to inspire natural healing and show how we help our Campers heal in a safe and natural environment.
Today, you can help support our Camp My Way Wilderness Program thanks to The Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society and Surrey Honda who are raffling a brand new Honda CRV 2020 to raise much needed funds for the Surrey Youth / Community who will benefit by coming up to our Camp this summer and all of the years to come while we continue to work as a team to lay the foundation and simply teach our next generation how to go back to the basics of survival and gain a stronger understanding of self care, teamwork, hard work and adventure in the great outdoors.
Get your tickets today ( sorry sold out )
Thank you for your time, and support.
Your Friend, Our Voice
Terrance J. Kosikar