Live Once Live Wild – exploring USA National Parks with Scott Moses

Yosemite National Park

Why “Live Once Live Wild” is my Personal Motto

WORDS: SCOTT MOSES

We’re heading to the US with this article – to “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”. It’s timely to remember that the purpose of leaving England to venture to the “New World” (America) was for freedom.

Where else is better to experience this glorious freedom than in the National Parks of the USA? Our interview with adventurer and nature-lover Scott Moses from ‘Live Once Live Wild’ takes us there.

Who am I?

I’m a guy who hates the fact that I have to work to support myself. If I had it my way, I’d be outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 366 days a year (because I’m not about to let that one extra day during Leap Year slip away). There is simply so much out there to explore, and so little time to see it all. Unfortunately, getting to these places, having the right equipment to enjoy them to their fullest, and being able to eat once in a while, do cost money. I live in Brooklyn, New York which isn’t exactly the place that naturalists dream of. The office work that I do is nothing more than a necessary evil that allows me to indulge in weekends and extra-long vacations into the wider world that is always awaiting.

On a practical level, I’m a hiker, skier, and surfer, which allows me to enjoy pretty much everything that nature has to offer, from waves to mountain peaks to everything in between. I love being in nature so much that I suppose I felt it kind of like a duty to share with the wider world some of the best places to visit and some of the best gear to get the most out of any adventure, and that’s why I started the Live Once Live Wild blog.

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www.flickr.com/photos/panteli/11369835545/

Why “Live Once Live Wild” is important to me:

Several years ago, a buddy of mine and I were planning an epic trip to the Sierra del Cocuy Mountains in eastern Colombia. We had been saving for several months and were about ready to book our tickets when my friend approached me saying that he wanted to cancel the trip because he had read somewhere that there was some possible danger related to the Colombian Civil War. I reluctantly gave way and we cancelled the trip. About a month later I ran into a person who had gone trekking at the Cocuy Mountains and she couldn’t stop raving about the massive glaciers, untouched wilderness, and unique indigenous civilization.

I decided right then and there that my personal motto for the rest of my life was going to be live once, live wild. Life is short, often much shorter than what we think, and common sense too often gets in the way of unforgettable experiences. I guess I figured that if I only have one life to live, I might as well make it as wild as possible. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “I want to suck all the marrow out of life”, and living wildly is for me the only way to do that.
Mountains

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Why connecting with nature is important to me:

I’ve never been the type of guy that has found much inspiration or mysticism within the confines of formal religion. The churches, mosques, temples, and other edifices of formal religion have always felt too stuffy and stale for my personal flavor. At the same time, there is something within me that cries out for deeper meaning than what is superficially apparent.

Being in nature allows me to connect to that mysterious something which is beyond our normal human experience. It gives me a more profound perspective on life and helps me to transcend some of my own selfishness. I guess on a practical level connecting with nature is also profoundly therapeutic for me helping me throw off the sluggishness that comes from sitting behind a desk all week. The fresh air, the beautiful sights, the adrenaline of spotting a gray wolf on the trail: this is what keeps me alive and ticking.
Mountains

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My favorite USA national park is… and why:

Whew… this is a difficult one because there is so much diversity out there. How can you compare the barrenness of the Badlands in South Dakota to the lushness of Glacier National Park in Montana to the smell of salt water hitting the forests of Acadia National Park in Maine? Then there are also the hundreds of national wilderness areas, national forests, state parks, and other protected areas that, though less explored, also offer a unique insight into the beauty of our world.

I suppose that if I had to choose one national park in the United States, I’d say that Joshua Tree National Park is my favorite… or at least my current favorite. I’ve recently started getting into rock climbing, and Joshua Tree National Park has some sweet climbs that aren’t too technical for my beginner skills. Also, there is something otherworldly about walking through the barrenness and aridity of a desert landscape, and then suddenly coming upon a lush, almost tropical oasis. During my last trip out there, I spent a night at one of the oases, and the combination of the sight of hundreds of shooting stars blending in with the Milky Way, the cries of nearby coyotes, and the gentle trickle of a small stream was something I’ll never forget.
Cholla Cactus Garden - Joshua Tree National Park - California

www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgold/34456707711/

My top tip for visiting Yosemite National Park is:

I’m going to cheat here and offer two tips for getting the most out of your trip to Yosemite. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, make it a priority to get outside of Yosemite Valley. The valley is undoubtedly beautiful, and that’s the reason that the majority of visitors never leave the valley. However, 95% of Yosemite is a designated wilderness area and there is SO much explore that most people have never even heard of. So yeah, take a couple of days to see Yosemite Falls and Half Dome, but after that get out and explore some of the lesser known areas. If backpacking is your thing, there are hundreds of miles of trails that will put you into the heart of the Sierra Nevada wilderness where every bend in the trail will bring a new marvel.

Secondly, don’t go during the summer time. While I love seeing people get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Yosemite, I have had plenty of experiences where noisy tourists scare off a black bear I’m trying to photograph. If you can, make it a priority to get to Yosemite in mid-spring. The snowmelt brings the park to life. The waterfalls are mightier, the wildflowers more vibrant, the snow-capped peaks more majestic… and best of all is that you’ll pretty much have the park to yourself. If you have more questions about Yosemite National Park, you can check out our guide here.
Yosemite

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The next National Park I’m off to explore is:

Next I’m off  with few buddies and we’re are heading to Mammoth Cave National Park in south-central Kentucky. Mammoth Cave is home to the largest known cave system in the world. Spelunking is something I’ve never gotten into, but I figure it’s high time to start exploring the wonders of the natural world that are underneath our feet. I’m a little claustrophobic, but hey, since we only live once, we might as well live wild!
Onyx Cave, Mammoth Cave NP

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/navin75/162066494/

SCOTT MOSESScott Moses

Scott Moses is an outdoor adventurer who spends most his time stuck in front of his laptop. When he has a chance, he takes his dog ‘Mr B’ to National Parks across the country. Follow Scott’s adventures at: www.liveoncelivewild.com

Images credit: Creative Commons via Flickr (as noted) & author’s own image

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