Tracking Club with Zachary Fischer
When: The first Sunday of every month from 9-11am. Currently on hold; please check back for upcoming dates.
Where: We meet in Durango outside of Bread bakery. From there we travel to a nearby location.
Topics include: the 6 arts of tracking, track & sign identification, gaits, aging tracks, trailing, human tracking, how to move through the wild, strengthening our senses, plant/animal relationships, and effective journaling.
Bring: a pencil & notebook, water, a snack, appropriate clothes for the day’s weather, and a tape measure and camera if desired.
Cost: Free, but we happily accept donations.
Do you ever wonder what animals might be sneaking near your house at night or what kind of skull you found in a pile of leaves? What is the difference between coyote and bobcat feeding sign, and what mood was the deer in when it left those tracks behind the shed? Tracking is the ancient art of asking and answering such questions.
Tracking is in our blood. As hunter-gatherers, we relied on tracking to live out our day-to-day lives. It is theorized that our mental capacity for written language stems from the pattern recognition we developed when recognizing the tracks of predators and prey. Tracking is not simply following animal prints in the mud, but involves close observation of our environment. It is a way of looking at the world and asking the right questions; it partners with our innate love of mystery as we attempt to figure out what may have transpired when we weren’t around to see it.
We “track” more than we realize. At it’s core, tracking is no more than just paying attention to the details around us. An example: I rolled out of bed on a Sunday morning and walked from my bedroom. I immediately knew that my wife was gone because it was a cold and rainy day and her jacket was gone from it’s place on the hook by the door. The grocery bags were also missing from their usual spot, which meant that that she had probably gone to the store. When I stepped outside and looked at the driveway, I learned that she had left about ten minutes earlier: the dry spot where her car had been parked was being slowly filled in by the morning rain.
I knew the why, where, how and when of my wife’s actions, simply by observing a few details of my environment, asking some questions of myself, and of course, having some previous knowledge of her general behavior patterns. The methodology in this example is no different than the process when tracking animals. By using our senses, actively observing our environment, and understanding the behavior of plants and animals, we can learn to piece together the stories that take place in the land and around us. And the lives of raccoons and coyotes are typically much less boring or predictable than the example above. The stories that are constantly unfolding just outside our doors are filled with drama, life and death struggles, and complicated social interactions, all of which have entertainment value that puts reality TV to shame.
The best part of tracking goes beyond entertainment or intrigue, as the practice deeply changes our relationship with reality. While tracking, people routinely experience the meditative effects of being deeply in their senses and feel calmer and clearer of mind. They tend to feel a sense of belonging in the wild; experienced trackers understand that they are actually a part of the saga that unfolds around them. They often begin to feel a stronger connection to a higher power. Tracking has profoundly changed my life, which is why I feel called to share the experience with others. I hope that as a community we can perhaps reclaim some of the birthright that we have forgotten and lost: that we are full fledged participants in this world. Every step we take on the Earth is felt by something, and every leaf that falls has some small impact on our lives.