Crows Don’t Collect Shiny Things, Or . . .

Don’t Allow Yourself to Suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder

Many of you may have heard that crows like to collect and hoard shiny things; maybe like some people hoard toilet paper? (Wink wink). While the latter may be true, the former is not. At least in wild crows. Only captive birds – that have a warped sense of who they are – develop an affinity for keys, coins, jewelry, and so on.

I discussed this issue on KCPW’s The Mountain Life with hosts Lynn Ware Peek and Pete Stoughton. With recent “stay at home” or “safer at home” orders due to the coronavirus, I fear many of you may be developing a similar, and enhanced, allure to useless junk. Don’t feel badly about it. Messages that distort our natural instincts bombard us all, over-and-over, day-in and day-out: food packaging, commercials, and social media can all manipulate us into thinking we want things we don’t need. Caw, caw little crow.

Combine those messages with a lack of access to natural places and it can lead to social, psychologic, and physical breakdowns; even aggression. Like animals in outmoded zoo cages, we might even be prone to soiling the nest, which only happens when we’re not in good shape. We get soft, physically, but ridged and tightly focused on our perceived needs, and our fears. But, there is an answer. A simple one:

Get outside as often as you can, and stay out as long as you can!

Using appropriate social distancing and a mask.
if you’re going to be closer than 6 feet to others, of course.
Like our friends Pam and Mark Macy.

And leave your gadgets at home! Do not bring your cell phone, do not wear your Fitbit or GPS watch, and don’t rush home to post your route to Strava. Walk away from the ringing and dinging and pinging, as Richard Louv puts it in The Nature Principle. In his book Louv scientifically validates what I’ve personally experienced: the best antidote for stress, fatigue, feelings of alienation (spiritual disconnection and separation from your surroundings), complacency (both physical and emotional), and plain old boredom is simply getting outdoors. Declaring that “nature is the ultimate antidepressant,” Louv echoes my own sentiments: the more high-tech we become, the more nature we need. He asserts, “… a reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit, and survival.” I couldn’t agree more!

So, shut off the chatter and clatter. Go for a walk with the kids and your dog. Maybe stick your hands in the earth and plant a garden for the first time. It doesn’t matter if it’s vegetables, herbs, or flowers. Go jump in a lake; if it’s warm enough and safe, and you can swim. Hike up a hill or a mountain if you’re lucky enough to live near one. Just get reconnected with nature. It will ground you. And remember:

Don’t collect shiny things!

You can learn more about how to reconnect with nature, and your own natural instincts, in Both Feet on the Ground: Reflections from the Outside, available in all forms on Amazon, your favorite bookstore, or other outlets.

Posted in Both Feet on the Ground, Friends & Family, Health and Wellness, Nature - value of, Running, Training & Tips | 1 Comment

Both Feet on the Ground: A Prescription for the Stay At Home Coronavirus Blues

You’re stressed out, tired of looking at the same four walls, drained by the negativity on social media, and exhausted from juggling work with homeschooling and entertaining your kids. No matter your age, location, or financial standing, there is a simple, effective therapy that is abundantly available, and it’s right outside your door.
“Get out and stay out—as often and for as long as you can.”

That’s one of the messages in my new book, Both Feet on the Ground: Reflections from the Outside. You need to unplug, plant your feet firmly in the earth, fill your lungs with clean Both Feet Coverair, and dream of bold and personally compelling outdoor adventures. Of course, for now, your adventures in natural places may be as simple as sitting outside or walking around your neighborhood. But experience has shown me that any time outside can help create physical connections to the natural world that are vital to health of body and soul. Outdoor experiences can put you back in touch with who you are; how resilient, resourceful, and hardy you can be.

While you’re reading, I’ll take you back to bailing hay on the dairy farm of my youth, gasping for air at the top of Mount Everest, running through the searing heat of the Gobi desert, and riding the crest of huge ocean waves off Morocco. More importantly, hopefully you’ll gain some valuable insights from my endeavors, along with useful findings and recommendations from other experts, all organized around themes of earth, air, fire and water.

As one reviewer put it, Both Feet on the Ground asks you to consider the possibilities for your own journeys; encourages you to consider:

  1. How will you find, within your nature/self balance, your necessary grounding and sustenance … your earth element?
  2. How will you, as with your head in the clouds, marshal your own unique daring, acclimation and attitude … your air element?
  3. How will you kindle your own passion and find the perseverance and retreat needed to endure until you succeed the most trying of your challenges … your fire element?
  4. And, how will you grow, in your innermost, deeper being, through renewing your courage, redemption and reflection … diving below the surface of your water element?

Ultimately, I hope you’ll be inspired to find new ways of engaging with these natural elements yourself to experience the healing powers of the outside world.

Stay well.


Buy your copy of Both Feet on the Ground today on Amazon/Kindle, iTunes, Barnes & Nobel/Nook, Audible, or your favorite bookstore or other outlet.

If you order soon, you might qualify for a special offer: a free buff! See the Author Page of for details.

Posted in Both Feet on the Ground, Expeditions, Excursions & Other Outdoor Explorations, Health and Wellness, Mountaineering, Nature - value of, Running | Leave a comment

Death Valley to the Summit of Mount Whitney – At Age 67

July 19, 2018, Evergreen, CO – After thirty-five years as an extreme endurance athlete, including running at least 129 races averaging over 125 miles each; completing twelve expedition-length adventure races; and ascending the Seven Summits, including Mount Everest, all on the first attempt, you might think Marshall Ulrich would retire.

But, at age 67, Marshall is not finished. On July 23rd he will toe the line at the Badwater basin in Death Valley, hoping for his twenty-first finish of the official 135-mile race. But, he won’t be finished then, either. Every time he’s started at this, the lowest point in the U.S. (minus 282 feet), and made it to the official finish line on the shoulder of Mount Whitney, he’s continued a total of 146 miles to the 14,505-foot summit of the mountain, the highest point in the contiguous states. “If I’m able to succeed, it will be my twenty-fourth lowest-to-highest crossing,” Marshall says, “and I hope my daughter will be at the summit with me.”

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