01

By: PhilliP Rotar

INTRODUCTIONS

It was 2003, I was twelve years old, sitting 16ft up in a tree stand in central Wisconsin. I was told to stay there, shoot every deer I see and wait until my father would come at dusk. I waited for what seemed like my entire childhood for this opportunity. During these years of my youth I would learn about how unforgiving nature could be, but also how beautiful. Drawn to the wild I’d always ponder the idea of how hair-raising it would be to walk into the woods with nothing but what’s on your back, to really immerse oneself in nature. I’d dream of being able to walk into the woods spend the night and wake up to a sunrise and begin a hunt sitting in the silence listening and watching nature wake up in my presence.

The backstory

 

I grew up hunting, fishing, and glamping (glamorous camping) in a 30ft camper and never got the experience I once thrived for. Until I entered active duty after commissioning from U.W. Oshkosh in 2013 with my B.S. in communications, the idea remained with me constantly throughout those 10 years. I don’t know what was holding me back, whether I was afraid of the wolves and bears we had seen while hunting whitetail, becoming lost for a prolonged period causing severe mal-nourishment, or were those all just scapegoats? What I really was afraid of was being completely alone without the stresses of everyday life, without worries about the future, money, cars, college or schooling. Engulfed with student debt by the time I graduated college would consume my daily thoughts. How would I pay back the tremendous amount ($33,000) of student debt I had racked up? The idea of being completely at peace absolutely terrified me perhaps I felt as if I didn’t deserve this until I paid off all my debt and once I did that I would be truly free. The idea of being completely at peace absolutely terrified me perhaps I felt as if I didn’t deserve this until I paid off all my debt and once I did that I would be truly free. I felt as though if I did this it would end up as an ultimatum in my life and I’d have to determine my destiny in that very moment. 

 

I see a lot of articles posting about how important self-discovery is and how people traveled Europe or volunteered in Africa to accomplish this. Engrossed in my student debt and unable to leave my job I felt like the Greek king Sisyphus. Sisyphus punished and forced to roll a ginormous boulder up a mountain only for it to come trampling down once he believed progress was being made. Working a job, I didn’t enjoy and saving almost every dollar I could the interest would be my boulder no matter how much I tried to make progress it would always seem as if I was going in the wrong direction. Determined to get out of debt I would not set out on an adventure I could not afford and believed I was still trying to buy my freedom (become debt free). I believe this type of self-discovery could happen anywhere but requires being out of the city and fully engaged in the wilderness. I was afraid of immersing myself completely into something I knew would put my mind at ease and completely relax my body and soul. I’m sharing my story in hopes it will inspire you to get outside and become a better version of yourself. In an era focused on computers and smartphone screens, it’s easy to become mesmerized with everyday life and forget about how imperfect we can be and how perfect everything in nature is. 

 So, I went and bought a Jansport Klamath 55L backpack on clearance for $55.00 and went to Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina 51,000 acres of dense forest without any factual planning. I stepped onto the trail with my dog by my side we started walking. I’d continue walking until I was in a state of euphoria much like one would experience during a runner’s high. I did not have any set goals just a map my new backpack following an old trappers trail from 1975. I finally felt free, I was at peace and relaxed that is until the lack of planning started to dictate the trip running out of water with no open water sources in sight and mosquitos that could drive oneself mad for one second, I felt maybe I’m in over my head. I’d find water and use my $18.00 Mini Sawyer water filter to replenish all my water bottles and re-assured at that moment there was nowhere else I’d rather be. I’d spend two nights in the Uwharrie National Forest that weekend struggle falling asleep in the summer heat and skirmishing at night to start a fire to be able to cook. I’d have an experience I would never forget and would change my life and perspective forever.  I’d return repeatedly during my time living in North Carolina always taking away a different life lesson.

 

I believe too many people rationalize why they can’t start backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, biking, or rafting etc. for a long enough time that they believe it. I want to convince you otherwise. I want to tell you it is much more affordable than you may think. If I didn’t make an impulsive decision to head out into the forest I imagine I would still be unhappy and searching for what purpose I can serve in corporate America. I believe you also have the time. Whatever other justifications you may have will hopefully be proven wrong. My goal is to share my journal of experiences and photos to motivate you to get outdoors and hopefully provide some laughs and inspiration along the way.

My name is Phillip Rotar and I hope to see you on the trail.

 

Discovering Happiness in Uwharrie

PhilliP


It was 2003, I was twelve years old, sitting 16ft up in a tree stand in central Wisconsin. I was told to stay there, shoot every deer I see and wait until my father would come at dusk. I waited for what seemed like my entire childhood for this opportunity. During these years of my youth I would learn about how unforgiving nature could be, but also how beautiful. Drawn to the wild I’d always ponder the idea of how hair-raising it would be to walk into the woods with nothing but what’s on your back, to really immerse oneself in nature. I’d dream of being able to walk into the woods spend the night and wake up to a sunrise and begin a hunt sitting in the silence listening and watching nature wake up in my presence.

The backstory

 

I grew up hunting, fishing, and glamping (glamorous camping) in a 30ft camper and never got the experience I once thrived for. Until I entered active duty after commissioning from U.W. Oshkosh in 2013 with my B.S. in communications, the idea remained with me constantly throughout those 10 years. I don’t know what was holding me back, whether I was afraid of the wolves and bears we had seen while hunting whitetail, becoming lost for a prolonged period causing severe mal-nourishment, or were those all just scapegoats? What I really was afraid of was being completely alone without the stresses of everyday life, without worries about the future, money, cars, college or schooling. Engulfed with student debt by the time I graduated college would consume my daily thoughts. How would I pay back the tremendous amount ($33,000) of student debt I had racked up? The idea of being completely at peace absolutely terrified me perhaps I felt as if I didn’t deserve this until I paid off all my debt and once I did that I would be truly free. The idea of being completely at peace absolutely terrified me perhaps I felt as if I didn’t deserve this until I paid off all my debt and once I did that I would be truly free. I felt as though if I did this it would end up as an ultimatum in my life and I’d have to determine my destiny in that very moment. 

 


 So, I went and bought a Jansport Klamath 55L backpack on clearance for $55.00 and went to Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina 51,000 acres of dense forest without any factual planning. I stepped onto the trail with my dog by my side we started walking. I’d continue walking until I was in a state of euphoria much like one would experience during a runner’s high. I did not have any set goals just a map my new backpack following an old trappers trail from 1975. I finally felt free, I was at peace and relaxed that is until the lack of planning started to dictate the trip running out of water with no open water sources in sight and mosquitos that could drive oneself mad for one second, I felt maybe I’m in over my head. I’d find water and use my $18.00 Mini Sawyer water filter to replenish all my water bottles and re-assured at that moment there was nowhere else I’d rather be. I’d spend two nights in the Uwharrie National Forest that weekend struggle falling asleep in the summer heat and skirmishing at night to start a fire to be able to cook. I’d have an experience I would never forget and would change my life and perspective forever.  I’d return repeatedly during my time living in North Carolina always taking away a different life lesson.

 


 So, I went and bought a Jansport Klamath 55L backpack on clearance for $55.00 and went to Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina 51,000 acres of dense forest without any factual planning. I stepped onto the trail with my dog by my side we started walking. I’d continue walking until I was in a state of euphoria much like one would experience during a runner’s high. I did not have any set goals just a map my new backpack following an old trappers trail from 1975. I finally felt free, I was at peace and relaxed that is until the lack of planning started to dictate the trip running out of water with no open water sources in sight and mosquitos that could drive oneself mad for one second, I felt maybe I’m in over my head. I’d find water and use my $18.00 Mini Sawyer water filter to replenish all my water bottles and re-assured at that moment there was nowhere else I’d rather be. I’d spend two nights in the Uwharrie National Forest that weekend struggle falling asleep in the summer heat and skirmishing at night to start a fire to be able to cook. I’d have an experience I would never forget and would change my life and perspective forever.  I’d return repeatedly during my time living in North Carolina always taking away a different life lesson.

 

I believe too many people rationalize why they can’t start backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, biking, or rafting etc. for a long enough time that they believe it. I want to convince you otherwise. I want to tell you it is much more affordable than you may think. If I didn’t make an impulsive decision to head out into the forest I imagine I would still be unhappy and searching for what purpose I can serve in corporate America. I believe you also have the time. Whatever other justifications you may have will hopefully be proven wrong. My goal is to share my journal of experiences and photos to motivate you to get outdoors and hopefully provide some laughs and inspiration along the way.

My name is Phillip Rotar and I hope to see you on the trail.