You could say the Baird Brothers were born for this.
This bushwacking, thrill-seeking, fresh air/big sky/scary cliffs/unexpected turns-kind of life.
After all, Jim and Ted Baird were practically raised to live this way.
“Both of our parents brought us up in the bush and taught us how to bushwhack, and they have a love for this stuff too, so I suppose they aren’t really surprised that we live the way we live,” said Jim Baird.
If something excites you and scares you, you should probably do it. If you are nervous to get out there, that’s good. That feeling is what makes it an adventure.
As season 4 winners of the History Channel’s ALONE, the Canadian brothers are known for their survival skills and wilderness ways. They’ve traveled for hundreds of miles across vast, winter-soaked lands. They’ve canoed…and canoed…and canoed. They’ve whitewater rafted. They’ve fought. They’ve nearly died.
No, the bushwhacking life is not exactly a lifestyle that comes worry-free…for the brothers, or their family.
“Our mom is like, “Not just one of my sons, BOTH of my sons are doing this together,” Jim said. They are going to die together!”
“We’re like, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have taught us a love for this stuff’,” Ted said. “Our parents are terrified often. But over the years, they’ve gotten a little more comfortable with it. If me and Jim aren’t on a trip together, it’s definitely on my mind if he’s trapped alone in a freaking blizzard.”
Being trapped in a freaking blizzard is just one of the situations that these wayfaring brothers—along with Jim’s dog, Buck— have found themselves in over the course of their lives. Still, they can’t fight the pull that the great outdoors has on them. Instead, the brothers embrace it, and soak in the lessons that each trek gives.
What would you say to someone who wants to go out into the bush but they are intimidated?
“Don’t be too cocky. Intimidation is a feeling that the body gives you to make sure that you are safe. I would not let the fears control me, but I would let those fears help me plan and over-plan. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Before you go into these remote areas, think: What are the worst-case scenarios? What skills do I need to have? if you don’t have those skills, you go out and learn them. Prepare. When you get out there, believe in the abilities that you have learned.”
“If something excites you and scares you, you should probably do it. If you are nervous to get out there, that’s good. That feeling is what makes it an adventure. That’s what makes it fun. That’s the feeling we live for…not exactly an adrenaline rush…but the feeling that you are chasing that new experience, that you are constantly in a battle of feeling safe and pushing through boundaries. Whenever we do that, it’s the best feeling in the world. Jim is spot-on when he says that you plan for the worst and hope for the best. You don’t have to start with an arctic adventure, but the more scared you are, the more rewarding it will be. The more fear you have, the more rewarding it will be.”
Mother Nature doesn’t really care about you, or whether you live or die. You are responsible for everything that you want to do in your life. You’ve got to make the decisions.
Why do you do this? Why do you go on adventures and live in the bush?
“I always have a problem answering this. It’s just how it makes you feel. It’s very exciting to test yourself. It also has to do with a love of wilderness, travel, a love of adventure…all of these things combined in one. It’s exploration, and that excitement of what might be around the corner…that beautiful campsite, that fire, that big fish you catch….all of these things make moments the most enriching in life.”
“For me, a lot of it is accessing wild areas and it’s almost like flipping back in time. We are going into places that are the same as they were back then. It’s almost surreal…being in these areas and how they’re meant to be. To be able to travel through them on their own, with your own strength and mental capacity…it’s extremely rewarding. It’s in our human nature to see what’s around the corner. This is part of why Jim and I went at it alone. We had to know a lot of survival knowledge. A lot of what we do is man vs. nature.
We really are all passerbys. When you get through these areas, you see signs of people who have lived here in the past. They were another wolf on the tundra. Part of it is chasing that feeling: Can I do it? Can I survive? What was life like years ago…it puts us in touch with our primal roots and triggers emotions that you can’t really get any other way. It’s really more in line with our natural state of being in the moment. Being out there in the wilderness puts you in the moment and puts you in touch with the primal emotions most people don’t get to be in touch with anymore. It springs you to life in an exceptionally engaging way.
Part of the lifestyle of living on the trail is that you have to live in the moment. You can’t think about what the housing market is doing. It’s what you are doing: one foot after another. It’s all we have control over. You don’t have control over tomorrow. That’s how you’re meant to live. When you’re living that life, it feels good. It’s physically and mentally demanding, but it’s less stressful when you’re not thinking about a million other things.
I don’t miss being on my phone or being online anytime when I’m out there. I’m never bored. Half the time, we pick up our phone, right? But when you’re out there in the bush, there’s so much more fun and engaging stuff, so you’re not even thinking about how much reach you have or how many likes you are getting.
What is one of the biggest lessons that Mother Nature has taught you?
“One of the biggest lessons that Mother Nature has taught me is everything here on this planet is in this together. We are all in this together. I can look at another group of people…different cultures…different races…different animals….and I can see a piece of myself in them. I can relate to them…the daily struggle to survive. We all deal with it. We all live with it. We’re really not all that different, as long as we are living on the same ball, breathin’ the same air. It’s taught me that we are not in control the way you think we are. Mother Nature really is.
The biggest lesson that Mother Nature has taught me is to live your life to the fullest. Mother Nature doesn’t really care about you, or whether you live or die. You are responsible for everything that you want to do in your life. You’ve got to make the decisions. It comes from the basic core meaning of survival. That’s one of the things I’ve learned out there.