A few years ago, OK, over 45 years ago, I was a Brush
There were many of these adventures and I made many friends.
Before you get all PC and make this into something it's not, read on....
A Brush Monkey is a person trained in dense forest navigation and survival
skills. Those skills were used for search and rescue in the Pacific
Northwest (Greater Seattle area). I was a member of PCESAR, Pierce County
Explorer Search and Rescue (www.pcesar.org). I joined and was trained in
the late 1960's. We were also trained in Red Cross First Aid and the use
of some mountaineering equipment. We were constantly drilled on
hypothermia and it was a constant threat.
Hypothermia is simply low heat, meaning the body temperature is
beginning to drop below 98.6 degrees. It's surprisingly easy to get into
trouble with hypothermia if you get wet, in street clothes (jeans) on a
moderately temperate day - say, 60 degrees outside. Even though 60
degrees can be comfortable, it is almost 40 degrees less than the body
temperature and when you add wet skin (due to wet clothes) to the equation, you
can get into life threatening trouble fast.
To earn the title of Brush Monkey, you had to navigate a course of
miles long, in February, with snow on the ground and glacial runoff
cross (without a bridge) and along the course find a post in the ground
(2x2 stake), before heading off in the next direction to the next stake
- a total of five legs.
There was no trail, this was cross country! There were swamps and
cliffs and huge downed trees that you had to go over, around or
through. And, the underbrush was thick. Really thick.
couldn't see two feet in front of you. But, you had to stay on
measure your distance so that you could find the next stake. This
designed to be very difficult and it could not be done in one day.
you had to make camp, fix meals, sleep, stay warm and navigate to the
end by 2 PM the next day in order to
be anointed Brush Monkey.
Through the years, I searched for toddlers that walked away from home, adolescents
that hiked ahead of their parents and then got off the trail, hunters - lots of
hunters, murder weapons and even the remains of one of Ted Bundy's victims.
I specifically remember a two year old toddler in Eatonville, WA, in February,
1971, not far from Mt. Rainier. It was COLD outside. I slept in a
down mummy sleeping bag designed for cold weather and my butt was freezing.
The little girl had wandered away from home and her two dogs wandered with
her and guarded her. The people that found her had trouble getting up to
her because the dogs were still guarding. And, she told her Dad that the
dogs snuggled up to her at night and kept her warm.
I also remember searching a corn field for an Alzheimer's patient. A corn
patch is actually a good place to hide. And, it's a pretty rough place to
have to search. We ended up putting on extreme weather parkas with our
hoods up and heads down to avoid getting cut by the corn leaves. We
would run every other row from one end to the other, move down and run back.
We found her but it was definitely a different kind of "rough
terrain" or brush.
Today, I enjoy watching people's reactions when I tell them, "I was a Brush Monkey".