We all know that escaping into the wilderness can be an incredibly therapeutic thing. There is something about nature that not only calms us, but helps us to heal as well. That is the basis of a five-part series of stores that are currently being revealed on the National Geographic Adventure website, where a powerful tale is unfolding about how an adventure in the backcountry can heal deep wounds.
The story begins with Ray Knell, a former Green Beret who suffers with PTSD. Seeking peace and solitude, Ray decided he wanted to undertake a 1000 mile (1609 km) journey on horseback across Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana along the Continental Divide Trail. Before setting off, he consulted with horseman Ben Masters, who made a 3000 mile (4828 km) ride of his own to support wild mustangs. That effort was chronicled in the new documentary Unbranded.
Ray set out on his journey earlier in the year, but part way through the expedition his horse and pack mules ate poisonous plants that put their health in serious jeopardy. Fearing for their safety, the U.S. Army vet immediately had the animals pulled off the trail so they could recover. He then called Ben and asked for advice, with Masters saying he would lend him some horses to continue the trip, provided he could join Ray on a ride across Yellowstone.
Just as they were preparing to start that epic journey, one of Ben’s friends took his own life, leaving the rancher heartbroken, bewildered, and with a lot of questions. It seemed that both men would have a lot of healing to do on the trail, and lots of time to think about the challenges that life can throw our way.
Thus starts the five-part series from Nat Geo, where two of the articles have already been published. The first part, which you can read here, sets up the story, going into further detail on the outline I provided above. The second part of the tale, which you’ll find here, starts the wild backcountry adventure as Ray and Ben meet at last, and start their shared journey that will not only take them through the vast Yellowstone wilderness, but on the road to recovery as well.
The remaining three parts of the story have yet to be published, so bookmark the Nat Geo Adventure page and watch for more to come. This promises to be a great read, and one that will probably leave a deep impression.