Meet second term Wild Keeper, Tina Grimm, who is based in Burbank, California. Tina was introduced to the outdoors by her father who was an outdoor survivalist. When we asked her what being raised by a survivalist was like and what values that instilled in her, she shared, "
I thank my father everyday for the lessons he taught me growing up. I loved every moment we spent in nature together whether it was hiking, fishing or camping. My brother hated it but I soaked it in. Every trip outdoors wasn’t just for enjoyment, it was an opportunity to learn."
"We moved a lot growing up due to his job but that also gave me an opportunity to learn about different ecosystems," she reflected. "My first lesson was when I was about 5. We lived in northern Ohio at the time and we had just had a massive blizzard. When conditions cleared my father took me out in the backyard to build a “snow cave.” I thought it was the coolest thing ever. He had a way of hiding each lesson almost like a moral is cleverly woven into a good story. You didn’t know you were learning until you leaned it. As we sat in our shelter he explained what we had just constructed. How it could “save my life” if ever I was put in a situation. The spark was ignited and he knew it.
Over the years he showed me how to build different shelters, how to properly build, start, and extinguish camp fires, fish and I mean all things fishing (that was his absolute favorite activity.) He helped me identify wildlife, plants and insects. When we lived in Arizona he taught me the importance of hydration in the desert and proper footing when hiking up and down rocky terrain. We also spent a lot of time in the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains where he taught me how to navigate trails and watch weather patterns in the sky. Any place we went he also instilled the importance of “leave no trace.” He would go on rants for HOURS about trash or graffiti left behind by others. As a kid sometimes I didn’t understand the frustration but the older I got the more I realized why he was so upset.
Aside from the knowledge gained, every step outdoors with my father was an adventure. Sadly, I never got to go on a true wilderness trip with him. He passed away unexpectedly in October of 2013. Since then I always bring him with me to the outdoors in some way. Whether it be a piece of his gear (beanie, boonie cap, knife, etc) a necklace with some of his ashes or even his old school pup tent. Every year on his birthday and/or anniversary of his passing I make a special trip in his memory. Sometimes it’s a wilderness trip, sometimes it’s just a day on a trail somewhere to reflect on all that he had taught me. I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences."
She said the most important lesson she took away from the many things he taught her was to "always be adaptable". She said, "a survivalist always prepares for the worst so you know what to do if the worst ever happens. He would constantly remind me that nature is alive. And like any living thing, it can be unpredictable. He taught me to always be aware of your surroundings and nothing could surprise you. And I don’t just mean wildlife. It’s little things that most people over look. Like, don’t pitch a tent next to a dead tree, it could fall. Lightly tap on a fallen log in the stream before stepping on it to cross to make sure it’s sturdy. Always have your eyes in front of your feet when climbing down a steep hillside so if you slip you know what’s ahead to grab on to. Little things like that can make a big difference when outdoors."
Tina's favorite way to get outside is backpacking and when we asked her what her most memorable experience has been she had a hard time picking just one! She shared, "every backpacking trip has been special in some way or another. I dedicated my Mt. Whitney Summit to my dad on his birthday last year. I also conquered my fear of heights on that trip. I hid a hostess cupcake from my husband for 40 miles on the Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon last June to surprise him on his 40th birthday at camp, candle and all. My first backpacking trip to Yosemite inspired me to get married there a couple of years later. The way I see it, every trip in nature is a blessing and a memory that will stay with me forever."
Learn even more about Tina below!
Keep Nature Wild: Which would you pick between mountains, forests and desert?
KNW: What is your favorite thing about being a Wild Keeper?
T: It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of keeping our wild lands wild.
KNW: What’s rewarding about keeping wild lands wild?
T: Just like my father had taught me so many years ago, we have to do our part to keep our lands wild. After all, we are the visitors. I want to help preserve nature so future generations can see the beauty. I think for me personally the most rewarding part is getting a thank you from a random stranger while out on a trail picking up trash. Some of those people were even inspired to pick up trash as well. It’s a magical thing to see people come together for a positive change. One small act isn’t small if others are inspired from it and that’s the biggest reward anyone can ever ask for.
KNW: What has picking up trash outdoors done for you?
T: It has opened my eyes to the good and bad of humanity. It’s extremely humbling to have strangers thank you for cleaning parks and trails up. However, it is also heartbreaking to see how much is left behind by people, especially when there are proper trash bins nearby.
KNW: Roughly how many pounds do you think you've picked up since you became a Wild Keeper?
T: Around 120 lbs and counting!
KNW: What goals do you have for this year?
T: To continue to inspire others to help keep our world clean and healthy. Since becoming a wild keeper last year I have inspired so many of my friends and strangers to go out and pick up trash.
As a special addition, Tina shared, "I never got a good photo with my father in the outdoors. He was a very private man. But I’ve included one from one of his Rocky Mountain survival trips. I think it was from the late 70s early 80s."
If you want to follow along with Tina's adventures and wild keeping, find her here!