By Alexa Strouth
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a teepee? Have you ever been so inspired by nature that you revolve your life around it? Freshman Nate Rylander, known around the Saint Mary’s University campus as “Mountain Man,” has dedicated his life to serving the forests, going as far as to live in a traditional Lakota-style teepee.
Read more...An inspiring student, Rylander never takes life for granted, and he doesn’t need material goods to be satisfied. Rylander’s passion for nature is even rarer in a technology-based society, as fewer and fewer people are inspired by nature and depend on cell phones, iPods and cameras to survive.
The following interview explores Rylander’s view and unique experiences in nature.
Q: What inspires you most about nature?
A: The book “Last Child in the Woods,” by Richard Louv, really inspires me. It’s about saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Louv speaks of our children as going to be the first generation to be raised without a meaningful connection to the natural world.
Q: How long did you live in a teepee? What was it like?
A: I lived there about a month, but I plan on spending more time living in different forms of sustainable living. You really learn a lot about nature after living outside; nature and humankind have a mutual agreement with each other.
Q: Do you think that nature is healing?
A: Therapy through outdoor recreation is a great alternative to prescribed medication.
Q: What can everyone acquire from nature?
A: I believe the greatest thing about nature is that it is a place where everyone can go to measure their self, a place to feel strong; it gives us a feeling as if we own nature and it owns us.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Continue working at Lebanon Hills Regional Park and after graduation, I plan on backpacking from here to Upper Peninsula, Mich. I also want to continue rock climbing and fulfill requirements for a Class A skydiving license.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience so far?
A: My trip to Montana was incredible. I learned how to make teepees with the owner of Trapline Lodges, Chris Lunn, an SMU alumnus.
Rylander’s optimistic view about nature will hopefully inspire future generations. If you have any more questions about Rylander’s journey, you will probably find Rylander and his friends rappelling upside-down in the bluffs.