1. Safety First
Perhaps the most important added benefit to talking to oneself – out loud in this case – is that it exponentially decreases the likelihood that you will have an unwanted chance encounter with a Grizzly Bear or Mountain Lion. I mean the alternative is you can wear those silly “bear bells” which some refer to as “dinner bells.” The idea is that if you give the impression that you are in a bigger group, then the food chain will less likely knock you down a few pegs. In fact, it was this reason alone that kind of jump started my habits of ” outward introspection” – copyright! The Ranger’s at Denali National Park first encouraged me not to go out into the backcountry alone, though after they reluctantly conceded to my unrelenting resolve, they encouraged me to either talk or sing out loud to cast away the Grizzlies. I was happy to oblige with their advice. After all, being a native to Maryland, I was not ignorant enough to consider myself well enough versed in the handling of Grizzlies. So without further adieu, I set out into the untamed Alaska wilderness and quickly dusted off the old pipes and started singing the first song that came to my mind – “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. Trust me…I made myself plenty unappetizing by butchering that classic.
As it would turn out, this lesson in safety became a sort of habitual mantra that prevailed throughout the rest of the year. Whether I was in Glacier, Sequoia, Yosemite, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, etc, you may have heard some loon singing “Hey Jude” to himself around every blind turn in the trail. Over time, the singing turned into just talking out loud…sometimes very loud.