Ep. 47: Surviving Alone, Niki Van SchyndelTravis speaks with Nikki van Schyndel from the hit TV series, Alone where she spent 51 days isolated in the Arctic. Nikki is a published author, Ted Talk alumni, former sponsored snowboarder and all around cool person. Tune in to listen to near death experiences, Sasquatch stories and inspiration on what drives a person to endure such extremes. This is a podcast you don’t want to miss.
Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader, and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products that we offer as well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North American wide liability insurance, to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.
[00:00:43] All right. I’ve been receiving some fantastic feedback from listeners and Silvercore Club members. And I wanted to take a moment to say, thank you. It is through your feedback and by sharing this podcast with others that we’re able to continually grow and evolve. And for that, I am grateful.
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[00:01:23] Today I’m joined by a modern day Thoreau, the author of Becoming Wild: Living the Primitive Life on a West Coast Island. She’s a TED Talk graduate and contestant on History channel’s hit TV series, Alone. Where she survived 51 days in the Arctic on next to nothing. Welcome to The Silvercore Podcast, Nikki van Schyndel.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:01:44] Oh thanks for having me.
Travis Bader: [00:01:45] I am so excited to have you. It’s been about what a year there?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:01:50] Yeah, definitely, at least a year, right?
Travis Bader: [00:01:52] Yeah. We’ve been texting and talking back and forth and we’re finally able to make this connect. You know, I’ve got your book, great book by the way.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:02:01] Mmm, thanks.
Travis Bader: [00:02:02] Anybody who’s interested in being alone or living a primitive lifestyle or what it might be like. I would definitely recommend checking out, Becoming Wild: Living the Primitive Life on a West Coast Island. So when I read through that, I found a few similarities. You know, I’m looking at things that you have done and that you do, and I’m looking back at some things in my life. And a few of the similarities I found, well, one was just kind of a funny one; you had a cat named Scout.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:02:30] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:02:31] So I’ve got a daughter named Scout.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:02:32] Oh my gosh that’s awesome!
Travis Bader: [00:02:34] Was, was that inspired by Harper Lee’s novel?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:02:37] No actually, uh, it was inspired by, uh, the ancient, like Apache Scouts.
Travis Bader: [00:02:42] Ahh, I love it.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:02:43] Yeah. She was incredible. She’s still alive, she’s actually retired living in town with my mom now, but she, I think she’s about 20 years old now.
Travis Bader: [00:02:52] Holy, that’s, so I’m not a cat person, probably because I’m allergic to cats. That’d be a primary one. I remember as a kid, I really wanted a cat and I, I’m doing air quotes here. I, I found a cat and I clutched it so close to my chest and it was clawing me up and anyways, I brought it home and I told my parents, I said, this cat followed me home, can we keep it, right? My parents like, yeah, yeah, followed you home. And I’m like, I don’t know why I’m so itchy and look, took off my shirt, took a look and sure enough absolute hives.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:03:24] Oh my gosh. Yeah, I’m not a cat person either, but I found her slightly similar. She was abandoned by her feral mother and.
Travis Bader: [00:03:31] Oh okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:03:31] And, uh, I was going off on this big survival trek and I said, okay cat, like, you can hang out with me, but this is what your life’s going to be like. So you’re going to have to be wild. And she was amazing.
Travis Bader: [00:03:41] That’s not too bad for a cat.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:03:42] Yeah, she’s incredible cat.
Travis Bader: [00:03:45] So reading through your book. You make a number of references to Sam Gribley. Let me just reach into my bag here.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:03:55] Oh! Like wow, one of the original copies.
Travis Bader: [00:03:58] Look what I got.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:04:00] Cool.
Travis Bader: [00:04:01] So if you look on the front cover there or, sorry. Yeah, there you go.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:04:04] Look at your writing, it’s like tiny kid writing.
Travis Bader: [00:04:07] It hasn’t progressed much. What I just handed Nikki here, is my original book, My Side of the Mountain.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:04:14] So cool.
Travis Bader: [00:04:15] So I think it was what grade four when I got that book and I loved that book and reading through your book. You love that book as well.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:04:24] Oh yeah. This was my favorite book of all times. I mean, I wanted to be Sam Gribley more than anything. When I was a kid, I just like after school, I’d run into the bush and start making bows and arrows and picking berries. And I was like, I’m going to be Sam.
[00:04:38] And then I grew up obviously and forgot all about Sam until, you know, I was in my twenties and started learning all this stuff about survival and living off the land. And one day I was at, uh, one of my teacher’s house and I pulled this book off the shelf and it was this, My Side of the Mountain.
Travis Bader: [00:04:52] Yeah?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:04:52] And I thought, oh my gosh, I have all these crazy skills to go be Sam.
Travis Bader: [00:04:57] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:04:58] Like I’m going to go do it. And, uh, that’s why, uh, yeah, I was really inspired by this book. I named my little road book Gribley and it was really cool.
Travis Bader: [00:05:07] Yeah, I, for whatever reason, that book really resonated with me as a kid. And, uh, so much to the point that I decided at lunchtime to sneak into the classroom and steal that book. And as I’m stealing that book, the teacher comes in and then I’ve got to come up with a story and the teachers are, what are you doing Trav?
[00:05:30] I said, oh, you know, I just, um, whatever I came up with, he says, oh, why do you have that book? Oh, no, that book, that’s my book I said, total lie. The teacher says your book is it? And grabs it from me, opens it up and takes a look on the inside and sure enough, there’s the, uh, the school stamp on there and looks at me.
[00:05:52] He’s like, you sure this is your book and I’m, now I’m fully committed to the lie. Like, uh, like what do you do when your in grade four like, yes, that’s my book. The teacher, you can see the rip on the page there. The teacher rips a page out and says, well, if it’s your book, you better put your name in it.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:06:07] Oh, that’s so cool.
Travis Bader: [00:06:09] And the teacher said, but this is between you and me. If anyone asks, essentially, I’ll deny it. And I thought, holy crow, that’s, that’s a cool teacher, so I’ve held onto that book ever since. Cause it’s a.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:06:21] Super cool.
Travis Bader: [00:06:22] It’s an interesting story, about a kid, lives in the wild. And I never really liked the ending where he moved back home.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:06:29] Yeah, neither did I, neither did I. That is so cool that she was like, you know what? He loves this book so much, I’m going to give it to him. Have you ever been in touch with that teacher since?
Travis Bader: [00:06:39] No, I haven’t.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:06:40] I mean, look your life, you know, just like Sam.
Travis Bader: [00:06:43] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:06:43] Me just like Sam. I actually contacted, um, Jean Craighead George, when I got back.
Travis Bader: [00:06:48] Really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:06:49] And said, hey, I got to say your book has inspired me my whole life. And I just wanted to say, hey, I became Sam. And she wrote back immediately said, I’ve been waiting for a kid to tell me this. And I’m going to tell every other kid that you can be Sam too. Cause she just constantly gets letters from so many kids that is inspired by her by her book. Um, unfortunately she passed away right before my book was published. I couldn’t send her a copy, but we chatted all the time. Christmas cards, sending pictures. She was actually an extraordinary woman.
Travis Bader: [00:07:18] Really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:18] Mhmm.
Travis Bader: [00:07:19] Did, was there any bit of.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:20] Yes!
Travis Bader: [00:07:21] Sam in her?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:21] Oh yeah. Her father, I think was one of the first, um, falconers.
Travis Bader: [00:07:27] Oh really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:28] Yeah. And, uh, she spent lots of time in the bush learning all these things. Yeah, she was really an amazing woman.
Travis Bader: [00:07:33] That is so cool. So you spent, and your book talks about a year and a half that you spent out living primitively on an Island here in BC.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:46] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:07:47] Did you want to talk a little bit about.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:48] Sure.
Travis Bader: [00:07:48] What primitively means?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:07:50] Yeah. Exactly. Well, I was a pretty hardcore, I just gotta be all primitive, so absolutely nothing modern, no knife, just stone tools and bows and arrows. And I was, you know, sleeping in hides and making everything from baskets to clothing, to, um, bone hooks and rope, cedar bark rope. And, and then there became this point where it was like, you know what a frying pan is an amazing invention, you know, I love this pot.
Travis Bader: [00:08:20] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:08:21] And so, it just came time to be like, you know what? It’s okay that I’m going to keep a frying pan. Like making clay pottery and dealing with frying on rocks all works, obviously. But there was more, I wanted to learn about, you know, living out in the wild and the time it takes to live absolutely primitively like that.
[00:08:43] There’s no, no tribe, I don’t have a tribe, I don’t have a people to help. So I made these exceptions where I would keep, you know, a bunch of rope and then I would just tie cedar bark onto it.
Travis Bader: [00:08:53] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:08:54] I made thousands of feet of cedar bark rope, but it became like, wow, I need even more to live. So I would just tie cedar bark onto fishing line and have, you know, 40 feet of cedar bark and then regular fishing line. And so there was ways that I utilized some modern gear. Um, I kept my knife, I kept an ax.
Travis Bader: [00:09:15] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:09:15] I mean, try, you know, axing down a tree with a stone.
Travis Bader: [00:09:19] Yeah, good luck. I’ve tried.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:09:21] It takes forever.
Travis Bader: [00:09:22] Yes. You can do it. It is doable.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:09:25] But you know, I’m not trying to prove that this stuff worked. So, um, yeah. And there was this other things I kept a saw and just some basic stuff. Um, I got rid of the fish hooks, which was really, really interesting, uh, made bone hooks to make them work. And, um, there was some things that I wasn’t willing to go modern. Like I made all my bows and arrows and.
Travis Bader: [00:09:47] I saw that, that’s pretty cool.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:09:48] Yeah. Um, so yeah, I did sleep in hides. Uh, I kept modern clothing. I did make a bunch of clothing, but like walking around in a cedar bark skirt just isn’t quite as good as Carhartts.
Travis Bader: [00:10:02] No kidding. Well, you, you came from a pretty, you came from a background, you, you were sponsored snowboarder at what, 23 I think it was?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:10:10] Yeah. Something like that. Yeah. In my twenties and yeah, I definitely didn’t come from a family of. You know, outdoors people. My dad was into camping a little bit, but you know, we had a motor home and I just, yeah, my, my family is not a real big outdoor person. So I grew up pretty privileged show jumping horses and.
Travis Bader: [00:10:32] Yeah.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:10:32] Just a different life from what I live now, for sure.
Travis Bader: [00:10:36] Wasn’t there a horse named Ivy at some point?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:10:38] Yes. Yes. Yes. There was a lot of horses and, um, my family in Holland, uh, raises show jumpers and I got my start there.
Travis Bader: [00:10:48] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:10:48] And, uh, just, just my life for all of my teenage years. And I think I started maybe when I was eight.
Travis Bader: [00:10:55] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:10:55] And I just wanted to go to the Olympics. That’s all I breathed and dreamed was horses. And, um, yeah, I just want to know the Olympics, like my trainer. And then, you know, it’s expensive sport.
Travis Bader: [00:11:07] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:11:08] And my mother one day was like, all right, um, she’s going to buy this horse named Ivy. It was going to be my, you know, big junior jumper and found this horse that was very cheap in the world of, uh, show jumpers, but it was this undiscovered gem, if you will.
[00:11:25] So I was like, I’m going to make so much money on this horse next year. Mama’s gonna be amazing. And my trainer, not all excited that my mom was going to buy the horse. And, uh, she got a flat tire I guess on the way. And so, okay, I got home from college that day and I said, Hey, did we buy Ivy? You know, like is she mine.
[00:11:42] And she said, oh yeah, she vetted out well. But, um, I got a flat tire on the way. And I was like, Oh, that’s a bummer. She goes, yeah. I took it as a sign from God that it’s time for you to get a job. And I was like, what? A job? I’d never worked in my life.
Travis Bader: [00:12:00] Wow.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:12:00] I was like, fine. I’ll get a job. So I went down to the bar and I got this job and I’ll never forget the first paycheck I got. You know, I hadn’t even, I wasn’t feeding my horse even or turning it out. So I was working really hard and it’s all proud of myself. And I got this check and you know, it was like, so little, I was like, can’t even buy a shirt for this, let alone buy Ivy.
Travis Bader: [00:12:22] Wow.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:12:23] Um, yeah. I kind of started a different progression of my life, which I’m super grateful for.
Travis Bader: [00:12:29] Huh. So the wise dispensation of divine providence.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:12:33] I guess so.
Travis Bader: [00:12:35] Holy crow. So you go from a pretty privileged life to wanting to be alone, essentially. You wanting to have wanting to be out in the wild. What was driving that for you? Because it sounds like you come from a pretty competitive background if you’re going to be.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:12:54] Super.
Travis Bader: [00:12:54] Olympic level.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:12:56] No, yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:12:56] Horse jumper, a sponsored snowboarder.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:12:58] Oh yeah, you’re number one. That’s all you do is you just work really hard and train, and that’s all you focused on.
Travis Bader: [00:13:04] Was that just something you’re born with or is that something bred into you?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:13:08] My dad, definitely.
Travis Bader: [00:13:09] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:13:10] My dad, everything was about winning and, you know, competition, ever since I can remember. You know, even playing checkers with them, wasn’t like a fun game with your dad. You’re like finger came off, you lose a turn. You’re like, what? I’m like four.
Travis Bader: [00:13:26] Dutch.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:13:26] Totally the Dutch.
Travis Bader: [00:13:28] I can say that I’m Dutch.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:13:30] Totally. So, um, yeah. I kind of took that level of intensity, uh, into training to be a naturalist, survivalist and tracker. And, um, just decided, hey, like this is something, I actually just felt really compelled to do it.
[00:13:47] I started having these incredible experiences in nature that I just couldn’t understand or even share with people. They seem so I don’t know, magical and crazy and.
Travis Bader: [00:13:56] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:13:56] Um, I just felt compelled by something I couldn’t understand, could make this my life. It really wasn’t a conscious decision of, hey, this seems neat, I’m going to do it. It was like something I just, I had to do it, even though I was like, this is crazy. Who cares about starting fires with sticks? Like, I, I shouldn’t care about this.
Travis Bader: [00:14:17] Man, I, you know, as a kid, there was this group called Friends of the Fort and this was out in Fort Langley and they’d dress up in buckskins and moccasin.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:14:27] Oh yes I’ve been to it!
Travis Bader: [00:14:27] You remember that?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:14:28] Yes!
Travis Bader: [00:14:29] So there is a fellow there who was making flintlock rifles and I grew up in a, in a firearms family. And so my dad was getting into making his own kentucky rifle and.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:14:41] Cool.
Travis Bader: [00:14:41] Yeah, and I started getting into that area as well, made my own moccasins and.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:14:47] Nice!
Travis Bader: [00:14:47] Got wearing my, my knickers and I’d go out into Fort Langley. And when they did portage’s and.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:14:53] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:14:53] I don’t know, it was kinda, it was kinda neat, but I, you, you took that whole thing to the next level. I mean, you, you really pushed that, do you still feel that burning desire in yourself to, to keep foraging down the primitive path?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:15:14] Yeah, I do actually, even more so now. I did take, it’s not like it took a break from it, but I, I did move out into the wilderness and become an off-grid-er, which is a different lifestyle than a primitive survivalist, if you will.
Travis Bader: [00:15:28] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:15:28] I mean, it has elements obviously of both, but being an off-grid-er is just a lot of hard labor work.
Travis Bader: [00:15:34] Totally is.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:15:35] Um, building a cabin and all of that took a lot of me, from just simply hiking around the forest and trying to touch animals and doing what I do. So there was like several years where it was just more grunt labouring and, you know, taking time to do those things that I really wanted to do. But, um, I’m kind of, yeah, I’m just kinda getting back into the learning more about the old skills. I, I’ve reconnected, I was adopted.
Travis Bader: [00:16:02] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:16:03] And I’ve reconnected with my birth family, which has been really exciting and, um, yeah, really exciting. I mean, it’s been a lot of emotion. Don’t get me wrong.
Travis Bader: [00:16:12] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:16:12] But, um, so I found my family and some cousins and through that, I’ve recently found my birth mother and I’m Ojibwe. Um, so it’s really excited to go back to Ontario and do a survival trek out there. Learning with, I’ve met a man that’s going to teach me how to make a birch bark canoe.
Travis Bader: [00:16:31] So cool.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:16:32] And, I know. I’m going to go out onto the land there where my ancestors are from and kind of relive that area and landscape, which I’m really excited about.
Travis Bader: [00:16:41] Did you know that you were adopted or did you find that?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:16:43] Oh yeah, I’ve known, ever since I was born, I don’t remember not being adopted. Um, my parents have always been very open about it. But it’s interesting this whole circle of my life coming around, you know, when I was a little kid, all I wanted to do is, you know, live off the land and, you know, every Halloween I would dress up as like a native kid. And, um.
Travis Bader: [00:17:06] It’s just in your blood.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:17:07] Yeah, so clearly, there is a reason why I was learning all about it, it’s just.
Travis Bader: [00:17:11] Oh that’s interesting.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:17:12] A part of me. Yeah. So it’s been really interesting and fun and to reconnect with that and just start learning all about just the Anishinaabe. And I’m really excited about it.
Travis Bader: [00:17:22] Now, so I wasn’t adopted, but I’m just thinking about it now, did you feel, maybe a sense of social isolation, as in that, or maybe just a level of connectedness?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:17:36] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And I’ve actually just in the last couple months have been really delving into that. I mean, there was definitely a, I would say, not a separation perhaps, but just a belonging, I think is the word. You know, it’s not like a don’t belong with my family now. I love my family.
Travis Bader: [00:17:55] Sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:17:55] I mean, that’s my mom and my dad and my brother. Um, but there is a sense as an adopted person that, you know that you’re not related. Um, and I think that has permeated my whole life of this, not belonging with other, you know, I didn’t know my heritage, you know, I’m Scottish and, um.
Travis Bader: [00:18:15] Cool.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:18:15] Yeah. I’m Scottish and Native and, uh, I didn’t know any of that. So I’ve spent most of my life studying Native traditions and Celtic traditions, which is interesting.
Travis Bader: [00:18:25] So you have your bannock with your Haigis?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:18:27] That’s right! Um, yeah, I think, I think that’s why I’ve been always attracted to nature because I feel like I belong there. It’s like the one place that, that is truly my home and my people in a way, you know?
Travis Bader: [00:18:40] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:18:40] Um, So, yeah, I think that’s also why I’ve been, I love being alone. I’m totally comfortable being alone. I think that’s why it was great for the show, because I’ve always played by myself as a little kid. I’ve no problem, I can always entertain. I’m never bored.
Travis Bader: [00:18:56] Do you find it difficult to socialize in groups? Do you find it maybe particularly, after you’ve been alone for a while, that transition period, is that a difficult transition?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:19:08] I would say I used to be, uh, I used to, to be honest, people used to really irritate me. Um, I just.
Travis Bader: [00:19:15] I can hear that.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:19:16] I just, yeah, I’d rather do things myself. Um, wasn’t a great team player. Um, but once I went on Alone, I honestly, it was so strange. I went on TV show Alone, so figure out what it’s like to be alone. And it turned out when I came back from that, that I just, I got this incredible love of humanity out of it. Um, which made no sense to me, but when I left and while I was out there, I just, I don’t know, it was just this incredible night.
[00:19:50] And just all of a sudden was like, wow, I love people, where I would never have said that before. And if you talk to anybody that was on that show prior to now, they’re like, yeah, I don’t know what happened to Nikki out in the woods, but something fundamentally changed about this woman.
Travis Bader: [00:20:05] Was it like a light switch?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:20:06] Yeah, it was just like instantaneously one night I was crawling into my bed.
Travis Bader: [00:20:10] That’s interesting.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:20:11] I know. It’s like, I was struck by some star and I’m like, wow. I feel like an entirely different person. It took me about a year getting back off the show to figure out who I was and how to interact because I was so genuinely concerned and interested about other people where before I honestly, I didn’t really care too much about what was going on in other people’s lives, as much as I should have or wanted to.
Travis Bader: [00:20:35] Was there an event that somehow triggered that rewiring of the brain?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:20:40] Yeah, i, I wish I could say what it was and I’ve gone back through time and time again and my journals and stuff. I mean, you’re not allowed to write anything when you’re on Alone.
Travis Bader: [00:20:49] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:20:50] So there’s no way of recording down what’s happening to you daily. Um, and so it becomes harder after to get back those memories and leaving the show in the way I did, you know, I was pulled out, it was pretty traumatic for me. So I had quite a lot of trauma after that initially for the first couple of weeks back.
[00:21:09] And so, not that I’ve lost memories of it, but it’s hard to get back all of the things that happen to you on a daily basis on a show like that. So I don’t know what triggered that moment. I feel like it’s my life, you know, just every little thing, step, had come up to this moment where I was alone in the Arctic.
[00:21:27] And I was like, yay. Here’s who I truly am. And I’m not afraid to be who I truly am anymore because I was on that show. And, um, I think there was just a lot of things that happened to me emotionally and spiritually on Alone that I had never dreamed would have happened.
Travis Bader: [00:21:44] The universe unfolds as it should.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:21:46] Yeah. It’s really cool.
Travis Bader: [00:21:47] Well you talk about a spiritual side, and I want to touch on that because you talk about it in your book as well. And I, and I find a couple of things that you wrote really interesting, but before we go there, what were some of the most difficult things you found about being alone for 51 days?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:22:05] Um, I really didn’t find anything difficult about being alone. It was amazing as soon as I stepped off that helicopter, I just like, couldn’t wait to see that thing disappear. You know, I was like, yes, I’m finally gonna know what it’s like to truly be alone. Like we just don’t get that. I don’t know if it’s a luxury, but we just don’t get that experience in modern life anymore to be alone. I mean, it’s.
Travis Bader: [00:22:28] You don’t.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:22:29] It’s impossible to find.
Travis Bader: [00:22:30] Not in the cities anyways, that’s for sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:22:32] No and so I was like really excited to feel what that was going to feel like, and I had never felt more connected to my friends and my family and my teachers in my whole life while I was on alone. Like it was almost to the point where I just felt there were so many people around me.
[00:22:49] I get goosebumps thinking about it. I’d be like, look people, back up. Like I just, I need some space around like fire pit. So I, I never missed anybody. I thought I ,actually thought I felt kind of bad about it. I was like, I should probably feel bad, I don’t miss a single person, but. I felt like I could just reach out to them and there they were, you know, I had certain things in place.
[00:23:10] Like when the moon, full moon was there, my grandmother would be thinking about me. And at night, you know, I had different things that, my mom would light a candle. And I don’t know if that helped or not, but, um, I certainly never felt like there wasn’t a moment I could reach out to, uh, even a teacher with an answer I needed and immediately my mind would be filled with, hey, that’s a great idea where it came from, I don’t know, uh, you know, but.
Travis Bader: [00:23:37] Really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:23:37] It was really, really cool to just have this incredible sense of connection, even though I was so far from anything.
Travis Bader: [00:23:46] That is pretty neat.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:23:47] So I never, I never had any, just loneliness or I miss my family so much or anything like that. I have no, no experience about that., The things that are painful for people on the show.
Travis Bader: [00:24:03] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:24:04] I didn’t feel those things that others went through.
Travis Bader: [00:24:07] Do you find it hard to quiet the voices in your head? I mean, we have so many distractions in our day-to-day life, living in the city or living in civilization and with technology and text messages and social media and all the rest. I personally find it takes me a few days anyways, when I’m out in the bush to decompress. And in those few days, my head is just going crazy. And all of this stuff that maybe I haven’t thought about in a long time starts popping in and, uh, arguments I’ve had in the past start popping up and you have, all of this inner dialogue. If I’m on my own long enough, eventually that changes. But it doesn’t go away, but it changes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:24:58] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:24:58] What’s your experience with that? Because I’ve never been 51 days alone.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:25:03] Yeah. Um, I, I have learned how to control the inner chatter. Um, it’s I think one of the most important survival skills we can have is to learn how to control our mind and our emotions far more than the skills.
Travis Bader: [00:25:17] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:25:17] Um, and so I’ve done a lot of work in my life to, it’s not, I think there’s a misconception. It’s not turning it off because our mind is our most powerful thing. So I don’t want to turn my mind off because it thinks up amazing stuff. And it’s going to save my life in a lot of instances and harm me in different instances. So.
Travis Bader: [00:25:36] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:25:37] I like, I don’t necessarily turn it off. I just focus it. And when I don’t want all the chatter, I have figured out how to quiet that out mostly by. Here, I can hear the, I don’t want to say useless chatter, but you know what I mean?
Travis Bader: [00:25:53] I totally know what you mean.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:25:54] Just the useless stuff that you’re like, wow, I just need a break from you. And I, as soon as that comes in, I’m like, hey, thanks a lot um, not important to me. And I just don’t continue on with the stories that we tell ourselves.
[00:26:09] It it’s, it’s a habit that I started that I worked hard on and it’s just become natural now because it does interfere with your time and in the wilderness. Like you have to be able to have, uh, really open and engaged and focused mind when you’re out in the woods. Otherwise you’re going to miss, you know, that one plant in the Arctic, right?
[00:26:30] The four leaves I managed to find that were edible, right. I found six Rose hips walking around a landscape and noticing one old Rose hip. I mean, you have to be very aware to even notice that. And if your mind’s chattering around, it’s like, oh I wonder what people are going to think of me right now, I wonder how I look holding this camera up when I have, you know, snot running down my face.
[00:26:52] And I’m sure I look like hell, and if you have those kinds of thoughts, you’re literally not going to be as successful as you could be, so.
Travis Bader: [00:27:01] Oh you’re done.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:27:03] Um, and, and, and that I think was the one thing that, um, I loved about the show was, I just made it, uh, a personal mission to say, okay, I’m going to try to make the best show I can for these people. And I’m going to film everything the worst, the best, the in-between, you know, I’m going to cry if I feel like I need to cry. I’m going to laugh, I’m going to goof off. I don’t, I’m just going to do that all. And it was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done in my life.
[00:27:32] Like to be on national TV and especially my story, if you’ve seen, obviously like it was just a wreck out there, total nightmare. I have no idea why all that happened, but it was an incredible story of one thing after the other happened to me. Like I’ve, I am definitely gone down in history as the most accident prone participant ever in the history. I don’t know if you really want to claim that, but I will claim that.
Travis Bader: [00:28:01] So are you generally accident prone?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:28:05] No, this was so phenomenal about the story. Like I’m not, I’m actually, literally soon as I stepped off that helicopter, I mean the whole time you say to yourself, look, if I cut myself, I could be out of here. I want that $500,000. So every time I picked up my ass, I was like, be careful if you get an ax cut. Every time, every time I picked up my knife, I would just remind myself. And, um, there was just, gosh, you know, I cut towards myself and like I teach knife safety, right?
Travis Bader: [00:28:37] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:28:38] Oh, you know, the worst was probably I stabbed myself with my arr- I’ve actually never used modern arrows, they’re like razorblades, obviously you know.
Travis Bader: [00:28:47] Yes, yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:28:48] I was like, whoa, these are razorblades. And every time I carried one, I was like, okay, be careful, this is a razor-blade you could literally damage yourself and.
Travis Bader: [00:28:58] And you did.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:28:58] And I did, you know, I was pulling up my pants coming home late from hunting, looking for moose. And I just, you know, did that like jump up with your pants.
Travis Bader: [00:29:08] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:29:08] And I was holding one arrow and one area was always on, and when I came down, I just jabbed the back of my leg with the arrow and I thought, Oh no, it just probably nicked me, it was like walking down.
Travis Bader: [00:29:20] Nope.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:29:20] I could feel the blood drippin’. I was like, ah, geez. And you know, it’s, this was like, hey I’m going to film it. Like, I’m going to film it. I mean, you don’t have to film everything, which was the unliving thing for my part of the story for me personally. I mean, just to be able to say, hey, it’s not that I don’t care what people think. It’s just, this is what happened, this is the truth of what happened. I’m willing to own up to that truth.
[00:29:45] And, um, I’m willing to learn from it and it’s okay that we make mistakes. And to be able to be, to the world, your worst moments, like now in my life I’m like what isn’t there I can say or do that.
Travis Bader: [00:29:59] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:30:00] Like it.
Travis Bader: [00:30:01] It’s liberating.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:30:01] It was, it was the most freedom I’ve ever felt in my life.
Travis Bader: [00:30:05] Wow.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:30:05] Yeah, it’s really cool.
Travis Bader: [00:30:06] As long as you can carry that with you in your mind, as you go forward and carry that experience, you’ll continue with that freedom I should imagine.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:30:13] Yes. Yeah, it was. I mean, I’ve, just from my experiences, I’ve felt what it is like to be truly free, but this just added another dimension on to that. That was really, uh, yeah, life-changing for me, for sure.
Travis Bader: [00:30:27] Well, you talk about using sap to heal wounds. My, uh, you know, I don’t think my family has got the best record with booby traps, but I, uh, I’ve never met my uncle. He, uh, he died before, before I was born, but, uh, uh, he was in Royal 22nd Regiment and had a faulty grenade that went off and, but, um, I guess as a kid, he wanted to make a booby trap and he found an old rusty lawnmower blade and, and, uh, put a trip wire up and put this blade out and laid down beside it, measured it out for about a kid’s head height and.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:31:04] Oh my.
Travis Bader: [00:31:04] And figured, ahh this will be perfect, right? The stupid things that kids do right? And, uh, I guess, some months later, completely forgetting about it, ran through and tripped and cut himself in his head. And the neighbour came out and found him and he says, I know what we got to do, use some sap. We gotta use some sap to heal this up.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:31:23] Nice.
Travis Bader: [00:31:23] I guess my grandmother had other ideas and took him to the hospital. But, uh, does that work?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:31:29] Yes!
Travis Bader: [00:31:29] Yeah?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:31:30] It’s great. Like when I was out in, uh, for the year and a half, I used sap exclusively. That . Particular trek, I decided to only use plants. I mean, I had a first aid kit that I had brought out, it was pretty meager to be honest when I look back at it, but, um, I never had to use it.
[00:31:48] I only used plants to, um, heal any of the injuries and even the biggest gashes, if you use really clean sap, um, and kinda, I warm it up and then pour it into the wound. It, it actually lets the wound heal from the inside out. So it acts like a band-aid for one. Stuff sticks to it at first, but then it becomes less sticky and then it just kind of heals from the inside.
[00:32:12] So it doesn’t get infected because sap has antibacterial properties in it. And you don’t have to worry about it again. You don’t have to keep changing dressings or whatever. Um, just sticks on there.
Travis Bader: [00:32:24] Does it matter what kind of tree you get it from?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:32:26] Well, so I had good success with the firs, uh, Douglas fir. When I was in the Arctic, I really, I don’t know what was going on there. Honestly, it was so cold, I would heat up the pitch and by the time I would even try to get it on some of my wounds. It would, it would just, harden right away cause it was so cold and that’s practically burned my hand, trying to get the pitch in there. And it would just always kind of fall out as it would freeze.
[00:32:53] So I’m not sure if it’s more of a climate or if it was just different pitch. I mean, I tried different pitches in the Arctic. I couldn’t quite give you a perfect answer on that, but the pitch really didn’t help. I was trying to use pitch to heal all the cracks in my fingers in the Arctic cause it was really painful.
Travis Bader: [00:33:09] I could imagine.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:10] And it just never worked.
Travis Bader: [00:33:13] You know, I’ve got another story about booby traps, but I think I’ll say that for a different podcast.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:17] Booby traps are the best.
Travis Bader: [00:33:19] Booby traps. It’s like that, uh, what was it Goonies? What was that kid’s name with the slick shoes?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:26] Oh my God, I can’t remember.
Travis Bader: [00:33:28] Booby traps.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:28] Booby traps. Totally.
Travis Bader: [00:33:29] Data!
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:29] Yes! yes.
Travis Bader: [00:33:30] Data.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:31] That was his name.
Travis Bader: [00:33:33] So, and I’m not being cheeky here, but I gotta ask.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:39] Oh, you can be cheeky.
Travis Bader: [00:33:40] Is Sasquatch real?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:43] Oh great! Oh.
Travis Bader: [00:33:44] And not necessarily Sasquatch. And the reason I ask this is because, and am I pronouncing this right? Dzunukwa.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:51] Yeah. Dzunukwa.
Travis Bader: [00:33:53] Female Sasquatch.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:54] Yeah, the wild woman of the woods.
Travis Bader: [00:33:56] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:33:58] So this is an incredible question. It’s one of those questions that you’re saying, okay, like, how am I going to answer this? Because just the, I don’t know, the culture around Sasquatch is, it’s nutty. Um, but I have to say the native communities, indigenous people all over the world, there is some supernatural being, if you will, as a Sasquatch, whether it’s the Yetis and the Sasquatch’s, the Dzunukwa. I mean, there’s so many cultures around the world that have this being in their, uh, history.
Travis Bader: [00:34:34] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:34:34] 10,000 years of storytelling of Bakwas and Dzunukwa for the Northwest people. I mean, I’m not, obviously can’t speak to their traditions on that being, but it’s alive and well energy that is talked about where I live.
[00:34:53] Um, amongst the people that I have had, I have to say some pretty incredible, unexplainable, experiences with things in the woods that I don’t know how to explain with tracks. Um, and I’ve definitely been chased and heard something coming at me with a friend of mine. That was extraordinarily scary.
Travis Bader: [00:35:15] Yeah?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:35:15] That I have no idea what I was, shaking huge Alder trees that were about a foot and a half probably wide making this horrid yelling, screaming kind of noise and.
Travis Bader: [00:35:27] Really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:35:27] Charging through this thick brush. I mean, my friend and I just looked at her like, I have no idea what that is like, is that a bear? Or like, it wasn’t, unlike any sound I’ve ever heard a bear make. I’ve been around a bears a long time.
Travis Bader: [00:35:40] Yeah you have.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:35:41] And I got to say, I don’t know what it was, but my friend and I didn’t wait around. My dog was already like 500 feet down.
Travis Bader: [00:35:48] See ya!
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:35:49] The trail, just left me. My friend and I just like ran miles back to our truck and we never talked about it again. It was just one of those things like, hey, you know, years later we’d be like, hey, remember that hike we took at last lake. And you’re like, Oh yeah. What do you think that was? I have no idea. Okay, well have a good life. I’ll talk to you in a year. Um,
Travis Bader: [00:36:11] I like that definition of an energy or a spirit or a.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:36:15] Yeah I mean.
Travis Bader: [00:36:15] A feeling.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:36:15] There’s something. I mean, I know personally a lot of people who have claimed to see them. Um, some old timers that honestly, just come from a different generation, then they’re not really storytellers in the way people are storytellers now. I also have a tracking teacher of mine that I have asked and said, hey, you know, you’ve been out on, you know, investigations. And he’s like, oh yeah, lots of big foot investigations. Like, well, what, what do you got for me?
Travis Bader: [00:36:45] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:36:45] And he’s like, you know, I got to say every single one of them was faked.
Travis Bader: [00:36:49] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:36:49] And I was like, wow, really? Like people are putting big feet on and walking around in the woods and putting on suits. Like, I don’t know why, just to discredit this potential being out there. I, I, I, I mean, I, I just don’t know enough, but I will say that indigenous people around the world have always believed in them.
[00:37:11] And I have seen things and know some really dear friends of mine who have seen things. I haven’t, I can’t say I’ve seen a Sasquatch, but, um, I’ve seen some crazy tracks. And so it was a friend of mine. Uh, maybe there is some big old, hairy beast out there that maybe lives in between the worlds. You know, maybe it can live in between these two worlds of reality.
Travis Bader: [00:37:34] And that’s what I’ve heard as well, trans- dimensional being.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:37:37] Yeah and hey, you know, science is proving this stuff. This isn’t spiritual woo-hoo stuff anymore. I mean, physics and.
Travis Bader: [00:37:44] A multi-verse.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:37:45] Yes.
Travis Bader: [00:37:45] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:37:46] It’s totally proving it with science. What mystics and you know, medicine men and women have been saying for eons. So this is a really exciting time where, you know, people who are talking about these spiritual things can be backed up by science now, and maybe one day we’ll find them. It, it does seem weird to me that we don’t have really definitive proof yet.
Travis Bader: [00:38:07] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:38:07] That was so many people in the woods, you know? And there’s so many people in the wilderness. So I don’t know. It’s a hard, it’s a hard topic.
Travis Bader: [00:38:14] Well, apparently Washington has a law that it is illegal to shoot a Sasquatch.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:38:19] Oh wow.
Travis Bader: [00:38:20] And I guess people laughed about it and, but the reality was is that they were trying to protect anybody who might be out there dressed up as a Sasquatch.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:38:30] Totally! Cause isn’t there a million dollar, uh.
Travis Bader: [00:38:35] Is there?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:38:35] There’s like a million dollar prize, or, I don’t know if it’s a prize, but a million dollar.
Travis Bader: [00:38:40] Reward.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:38:40] Reward for bringing in a Sasquatch body. Someone will pay a million dollars.
Travis Bader: [00:38:45] Wow. I was asked that on a hunting trip one time, if you saw a Sasquatch, would you shoot it? No! I don’t know everyone’s different, but for me the answer is no. If I saw a Sasquatch, no, I would not shoot it. So.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:39:02] But they were alive and well, like I’m not saying alive and, well, I shouldn’t say that, but when I lived out for a year and a half, just out in the wilderness of BC there, I got to say all the stories and if I’d run into, you know, some clam diggers on the beach, you know, we’d gather around a fire and they’d start telling stories about Sasquatch.
[00:39:21] For sure. I mean, it was one of the first questions someone would roll up and you hadn’t seen anybody for like three months and like, hey, have you seen the big fella? You’re like, no, not yet. And I’m like, whoa, because you know, my cousin was here, you know, a couple of years ago and the Sas was hucking out clams at him.
Travis Bader: [00:39:37] I’ve heard that.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:39:38] Yeah. And I was like, well, and just all the stories, you know, some nights, just going to the, your outhouse or something in the pitch black and I don’t.
Travis Bader: [00:39:46] Course.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:39:47] We didn’t have headlamps, they didn’t bring a headlamp. So you’re kind of like, Ooh, you know, I’m hearing strange whistling noises. You’re like, oh, that was, I dreamed about Dzunukwa a lot out there and it was kinda spooked. I have to say, I’ll be honest, I was spooked. I didn’t want to see a Sasquatch or definitely not Dzunukwa, you know, with the pierce red lips and whistling and I mean, she’s known to steal people and.
Travis Bader: [00:40:14] I’ve read the stories.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:40:15] It’s not like a, you know, friendly forest spirit.
Travis Bader: [00:40:20] Well the reason I asked about that is because I thought it would be a good segue into, there’s a whole spiritual side in your book and to you about being outdoors. And I thought that was a really interesting take that you have on it. And some of this stuff that people might look at it, if they’re casual observers would say, hey, that’s really kooky.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:40:45] Oh, totally.
Travis Bader: [00:40:46] But there’s also, there’s a, there is an inner truth essentially to, to all of this. And you’re talking about birds, essentially talking to you.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:40:59] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:40:59] Not like I would imagine, not like saying, Hey Nikki, come over here.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:41:03] Yeah, I haven’t heard that. Well, I’ve heard a tree actually, which is a crazy story, but no animals haven’t just come out and be like, Nikki what’s up as well. I wish they would, that’d be awesome.
Travis Bader: [00:41:13] Cinderella doing all your chores for you.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:41:16] I wish!
Travis Bader: [00:41:18] So you’ve, I think it was a Raven, was it? That you followed and you just felt a bit of a connection to the Raven and listening to different animals and the different noises that they make out in the wild, would have different meanings behind them.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:41:32] Yeah, definitely. I mean, you can learn, anybody can learn the language of, I don’t just mean nature, I mean the language of animals, for sure. I mean, bird language is a very, I’m not gonna say easy thing to get into, but it’s very well-documented now from teachers that I’ve learned from, um, they do have a language and there is, like you said something deeper. There’s something deeper there.
[00:41:56] And I, I just, I can’t dismiss it anymore. I’ve seen it happen and had these experiences that there is no doubt that there is something deeper and beyond of what I can understand going on. And animals definitely have shown me that and opened me up to this kind of spiritual world that we live in, whether it’s in this room or in nature. And nature just is the purest place I find to find it or experience it because it’s just all truthful out there.
[00:42:26] There, there, isn’t all these other things that come involved with people and our society and cultures and our belief systems. So you can be stripped down to something and have these experiences out in nature.
Travis Bader: [00:42:39] Do you have any examples?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:42:41] Yeah. Gosh, so many examples. Um, gosh, um, yeah, just with every animal, I can’t, really simply, like when I was first learning it. And this is why I’m sitting here talking to you today. I mean, these kinds of ma I use the word magic. I feel like just, I love it because I’m part, I haven’t really grown up, so magic to me, I’m just like a little kid. I love magic.
Travis Bader: [00:43:06] That was my first job. I performed magic at kids’ birthday parties when I was in elementary school.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:43:11] Nice! And so I feel like magic is just when you’re really connected to something .
Travis Bader: [00:43:16] Yes, yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:43:16] So, um, just little things, you know, I’d be sitting in the woods going, Oh, I don’t know what that bird is singing. Wouldn’t it be great, could you just come and sit on this branch right in front of me and then sing so then I can actually see you and I can hear your song.
[00:43:32] And literally within seconds, this bird would fly out of a tree somewhere land on that exact stick I was imagining and scream out at song to me and be like, oh my gosh, did you just hear me? And it just made me go, wow, that was, you know, synchronicity or whatever you want to call it. But there was other, so many more examples.
[00:43:50] You know, my book I talk about with the Cougar that came by and that’s been a really powerful story, a teaching story for me, for sure. You know, having my greatest fear of being the dark and cougars and then deciding to go and sleep outside with a sleeping bag to try to overcome those fears and lying there. And, you know, having this animal walk up to me and then plop down beside me and start purring.
Travis Bader: [00:44:16] Woah.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:44:16] You know what I mean? Just that, I mean, animals don’t just come and lie with you in general. You know, it happens to some people.
Travis Bader: [00:44:25] Sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:44:26] Um, but to be actually trying to face that fear, you know, and then the animal comes and sleeps right next to me all night, you know, purring and who was. It just opened me up to this world that I was like, wow, some other things are going on here that I don’t know about. And it’s happened to me every time I can go into the woods, I can have those experiences, small land and large, you know, we want to have these big experiences, but there are so many small little ones that can build up to you being able to be open, to receive these kinds of things.
[00:44:58] And I think one of the things that helped me was, I have this mentor in my life and he’d always say, Nikki, when you just go anywhere, you know, you’re out, you’re in the forest. Just say, hi forest, it’s Nikki, I’m just here and he’s just the most beautiful man I know.
[00:45:12] He’d always be like, hi, this is, you know, it’s Nikki, I’m here. I’m just letting you know, I’m happy to be here, whatever, just have this little minute conversation. And, uh, I’ve always done that from him and you know, whenever I want a question answered and I need help, you know, going on Alone was the same thing. I didn’t just make this decision instantaneous. I was like, hey, I need to go sit in the woods and I’ll get back to you in a few hours.
Travis Bader: [00:45:34] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:45:34] And, you know, I went out there and, um, I always do that and animals will show up or there’ll be some sort of thing. I mean, I’ve even, been lost in the woods legitimately, not very little skills too. And, um, been like, hey, you know, nature, I really need some help, like if you can send me a direction to walk to like, I gotta get outta here.
[00:45:57] And I just sat down quietly and like you were talking about, I kind of just let go of all the yacking so I can just really, I see everything and listen with all my senses in that moment. So then it does quiet out all those yakking, if you really use and are looking everywhere and not moving your head necessarily, but wide angle vision and listening and feeling in that moment.
[00:46:19] And, um, a bird came and landed right beside me. This very thrush. And I was like, oh, like, I’m not saying anything to it. I don’t want it to fly away, but I’m just like, okay, there’s a bird. And then it looked at me and then it jumped on the perch and faced another direction and just started singing and then jumped back, looked at me and it jumped, it did this like three times. And I was like, wow, like, I don’t know what that means, but I’m going to like run in that direction of like a few minutes before dark. And I was like, I want to give it 10 minutes. I’m just going to run that way and popped out and found my car.
Travis Bader: [00:46:53] Holy crow!
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:46:53] Yeah. It was amazing.
Travis Bader: [00:46:55] You know, there’s, there is definitely a lot of things out there that science just can’t lock down. And there’s like, you’re saying quantum physics and.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:47:05] Yes.
Travis Bader: [00:47:06] All of the quantum realities that, uh, being open to experiencing these things and being able to either interpret prior to, or interpret afterwards in a, in a way that I find that really interesting.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:47:22] Yeah. It is about being open. It’s not a judgemental thing. You know, when you bring in all of the things from city and your life and your past experiences into nature, it, they will expose nature, will expose all of those things, everything. Your, your strengths, your weaknesses, everything becomes open.
[00:47:40] And so when you can actually be very open to experiences out there without bringing all of that with you, then I think you can have this different connection with nature that goes much deeper than just the name of a plant, or this is the behaviour of this animal, but it becomes like a relationship with them. Instead of just feeling slightly connected or knowing the facts about something.
[00:48:04] There’s just this deeper level of relationship that I’ve been able to build over the years, just by being me and being open to even things I didn’t believe in. You know, just being like, hey, could just like Sasquatch, could be.
Travis Bader: [00:48:17] Could be.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:48:18] You know, I’m not willing to say no or a hundred percent yes. Like, um, but hey could be.
Travis Bader: [00:48:24] So everyone’s locked down with, COVID a social isolation, not being able to see their friends, but they are encouraging people to be outside. That’s an aspect that I bet a lot of people don’t think about, is that relationship with the outdoors, would you have any advice for people to strengthen their relationship with the outdoors or even just start to appreciate and allow the, the outdoors to heal them?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:48:55] Yeah, I do. And I have been really working on that a lot in the past month. I’m designing this business based around this idea called Luminaria Wilderness Ventures. And I do, I want to have people be able to come out with myself and my team and experience what I experience to be able to see nature in the wilderness how I see it.
[00:49:16] In a way, not to say that the way I see it as right, but just as a more of a relationship building experience, rather than, you know, we hiked to the top of the mountains and we get to the view and we take some Instagrammable pictures, and then we go home and you miss all the things along the way.
[00:49:33] Like I rarely get to the end of a trail. I just, I, for me right now being in the city, you know, I’m trying to hike like everybody and get some exercise and it’s all I can do you to force myself to stay on that trail. And so I think the one thing that I would say to people is to slow down, you know, this idea of slow travel, you know, use you’re getting exercise as one exercise.
[00:49:59] You know, if you want to get in shape, that’s one way, but you need to just sit and find a spot that you go to all the time. And this idea of the secret spot, you know, Sam Gribley had it like, um, my teachers have always taught me about it and to find a place in nature, even if it’s your backyard or your window or your balcony, and you just sit there, just sit there for 20 minutes is about what it’ll take people, it’s a lot easier or quicker the more you learn your area and animals respond to differently. As you know, like the first three days when you’re on a hunting trip all over the place and.
Travis Bader: [00:50:35] Yep.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:50:35] Animals are like running. Every bird is like, hey, they’re coming through. And then eventually, no, one’s caring, not caring about it, but they’re like, Oh, hey, yeah, they’re there, it’s not a big deal they’re, you know, you’ve, you’ve let go of all of that chatter in your mind, which is what scares animals away. So I just slow down, you know.
Travis Bader: [00:50:54] Slow down.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:50:54] Just sit in the forest, just go to the park and sit there and see what you can see. And eventually all those animals are going to use, not just used to you there, but they’ll accept you. You know, pretty soon the squirrel is not going to be like alarming you for 15 minutes, right?
Travis Bader: [00:51:10] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:51:11] All the little Brown birds will be quiet when you’re walking through the trail, eventually they’re not going to be like human coming, human coming, and the next bird picks it up and you’ll eventually get that energy about yourself. That’s with nature rather than I’m just visiting, you know? And that’s what I want to teach people is how to become, not just a visitor to the wild spaces, but.
Travis Bader: [00:51:34] I’m really looking forward to seeing that business develop.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:51:36] Mhmm.
Travis Bader: [00:51:36] You know, I had a, there’s an Indigenous woman who wants told me, she said if the squirrels started setting their alarm off, quit hunting that area.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:51:44] Oh yeah, got to.
Travis Bader: [00:51:45] They’re, they’re talking. The squirrels are talking to the elk, they’re talking to the deer, they’re telling them to stay away and yeah. I’m like, you know, there’s probably some wisdom to that one.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:51:55] Oh yeah, they will the birds especially too. Get to know all the Brown birds.
Travis Bader: [00:51:59] Yeah?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:51:59] The birds that live in the tree top, they don’t to care. They don’t care that much about you because they more live in the tree tops. So they’re more concerned about hey Hawks coming in, I found the owl, whatever, but the little Brown birds that live on the ground, the wrens and the sparrows, man, get to know those guys.
[00:52:15] Even the Robbins, because they feed on the ground because those are the ones that are going to send all of the alarming. They can go for miles. Every bird in the next territory will pick up a call if it’s intense enough and then they’ll spread it that way. And every deer, every game animal, if you will, is keyed into bird language, every single one of them. And if you’re, you know, I mean, you’ve, I’m sure seen this.
[00:52:42] When I’m trying to get up close to a deer, you know, when they stop, I stop moving, they look at you like, hey, if you’re still moving, when this guy’s telling us this, you clearly have no idea what’s going on in the woods, you know?
[00:52:55] And you can’t just freeze all of a sudden when an animal sees you, then it’s like, why are you frozen still, like, I see you. You’re like, no, I’m just a tree and you’re like, no, I saw you move and now you’re not. So you better pick up and start grazing or start nibbling on leaves. And then the deer will be like, okay, you’re a grazer.
[00:53:15] Okay, I get that, cause I’m a grazer. Okay, awesome. Now, now you’re picking up that berry and eating it, like, okay, like I feel a lot less sketched of you now because you’re showing signs of doing what I do.
Travis Bader: [00:53:29] That’s interesting. See, when I was younger, I was taught a 45 degree trick for getting rabbits. Never go right towards a rabbit. Pretend you’re not interested at all. Go at about 45 degrees and play around on the, but for some reason I never actually put a correlation between that and any other animals.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:53:48] Absolutely. Dear, I mean, I can get just like touchin’ dear, because you can, if you stop when they stop and they’re looking, you’re like, oh, I’m looking over in that direction too. I don’t often know what, you know, what they saw or hear. I mean, they have huge ears, I can’t possibly hear what they’re hearing on a level, but I can look in the same direction and stop and they’re like, Oh, sweet. Nikki stopped too. That’s great, um, perfect.
[00:54:12] Because if you don’t and you’re still oblivious, then they get all nervous, you know? And if you’re like, hey, don’t worry about me. I mean, when I’m stocking up and I don’t want them to see me, it’s different, but once they have seen you or you screwed up and they’re like, oh, hey, I see you over there. You’re like, oh right, well, I’m just, you know, eating too. Um, and then they’re like, oh, okay. Um, yeah, and it’s, it’s a really fun way of learning different types of animal behaviour, for sure.
Travis Bader: [00:54:40] Do you have any tips for stalking an animal if you don’t want them to see you?
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:54:44] Yeah. If you don’t want them to see you, for sure. Like, so, uh, yeah, I mean kind of still hunting. Yeah. It’s my, obviously the only way I know how, um, I mean, I can sit in a blind as anybody, but I, I get too fidgety after a while.
Travis Bader: [00:54:59] I’m like you.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:55:01] I just am like, oh, okay, this is getting a little, um. So yeah, like I, um, I definitely, I learned this from my cat, actually that I took in the bush with me.
Travis Bader: [00:55:11] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:55:12] Um.
Travis Bader: [00:55:12] Scout.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:55:12] Yes. Uh, she’s all time stalker. So she would always, um, she always stops in the shadows, obviously. She would never go across an open space ever. I mean, if she did, she was just skirting or on her belly. I mean, it was amazing to watch her and open spots and she would wait until there was some sound or movement in nature and then move. Like she would never move when there wasn’t either a leaf falling or a bit of a rustle and then she would move.
[00:55:45] And she would, and I learned this too, from a class of mine and camouflage, cause it’s my favorite thing to do. And um, it’s like imagining you are that, that you’re hiding behind or it goes on to what we’ve just been talking kind of this spiritual invisibility. There’s something different about camouflaging your mind than just your body.
Travis Bader: [00:56:08] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:56:09] You know, I, I can be in full pink whatever, bright red clothing and can have the same results as if, when I’m fully camouflage, when I’m really good at just camouflaging my mind. All the thoughts that pop in there, fear, especially, or like aggressive feelings. Um, I’ve seen this with a lot with cougars, um, when you’re in a situation being really close to them, if you just take this really you know, gentle breath and let it out immediately, they will let it out that coming together.
[00:56:44] So close to animals for so many times in my life, I’ve seen my body reaction in them and it’s been able to make me instantaneously, be able to let go of any fear, any emotion, any kind of, besides just peace, you know, and just this calmness, um, otherwise you’re dead. So you gotta kind of learn it pretty quickly, but, um, there’s ways of practicing it with animals that aren’t dangerous. You know, like you can practice it with Robbins, are great. I mean, Robbins are hard.
Travis Bader: [00:57:14] Okay.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:57:14] Herons are amazing animals stalk. If you can stalk up to a Heron, I mean, you can get any animal because they are the ultimate in silence and slow movement and that, and so practice on these other animals that aren’t dangerous. And then you can learn and see how you can control your emotions better in those moments.
[00:57:35] Because as soon as you go, oh my gosh, I don’t have my knife on me and there’s a Cougar four feet from you, that rise immediately, I’ve seen cougars, just turn their head and look at me with the most intense eyes that you’re like, I’m about to die. And then you’re like, oh no, I love you, like, everything’s good, everything’s calm.
[00:57:54] And then immediately they go back to what they’re doing. And then as soon as you get that feeling of like that moment where you’re about to take a shot and you’re getting, you know, you gotta just they’ll feel sense that they, they, they sense more than I think people, um, really give them credit for on this, I don’t know, energetic level.
Travis Bader: [00:58:12] I believe it, you know, when I was younger being taught cam and concealment and one of the trixie instructor said was if your camouflage and somebody is walking by, don’t make eye contact, don’t look at them, right? Look to the side, use the periphery of your vision.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:58:29] Yes.
Travis Bader: [00:58:29] He says, don’t ask me why it’s hoodoo voodoo kinda thing.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:58:34] Totally it is!
Travis Bader: [00:58:35] But you look at them and more often than not, they’ll just turn and stare right at you.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:58:39] Right at you! Exactly. I mean one time I was practicing this. I’ll never forget, so cool. You’ve reminded me of the story. I haven’t thought about it for years, but I was practicing invisibility and I was sitting on a park bench and it wasn’t a lot of people around, but I was sitting on this park bench and, you know, watching these ducks in front of me or whatever.
[00:58:58] And I noticed some people coming down the trail. And I was like, okay, like, um, I’d been there, sitting there quite a while and the person came up and I thought they were just going to walk by me, but they didn’t, they started slowing down. I was like, Oh, maybe they’re coming to sit here. So I just stayed in this space.
[00:59:16] And one lady almost sat on me, until I was like, hey. And she tried to like, Oh my God, you just appeared, you literally were not there and I was like, no, I’ve been here the whole time. Just like, no you weren’t. I was like, yes! This lady almost sat on me. Like it was so good.
Travis Bader: [00:59:31] Mission accomplished!
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:59:32] Mission accomplished. Um, yeah, that was fun. So yeah, I mean, camouflage is, is so much fun. I just, I love it. There’s such a depth to it, rather than just smearing stuff on your face that people think it is, you know?
Travis Bader: [00:59:46] Totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [00:59:47] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:59:48] So in 2011, you mentioned a traumatic experience where you nearly died and it mimicked in many ways, your dream of Dzunukwa, but a barred owl saved your life. Afterwards, after the event from what you described, looks like you were suffering from a form of PTSD essentially.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:00:12] Oh, definitely. Definitely. I have no problem saying, Hey, I’ve lived through some traumas and have suffered through PTSD. If you think that’s valid for your listeners.
Travis Bader: [01:00:21] Well it just, it was an interesting thing that came up and I don’t want to be taking the podcast in a certain direction if it’s not a place you’re comfortable with, but with people who have been through trauma.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:00:33] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:00:33] I did a podcast with a, a fellow who runs a, an outfit in Alberta and it’s called Veteran Hunters and they do. They take veterans out hunting and they use, it’s sort of like the Japanese have nature bathing, but he takes an activity which some people would, uh, ascribe violence and, uh, sort of a negative energy too.
[01:01:01] He says, no, no, no, no, no. You’re, you’re out there, you’re stalking the animal. You’re with like-minded people who’ve been through like experiences and using nature in, in a hunting situation.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:01:11] Yeah but I mean, you need to learn all kinds of things to be a great hunter. So, I mean, it is much more than just killing animals. Absolutely. It’s a great program.
Travis Bader: [01:01:21] And he uses that to assist people to work through their PTSD. And I guess with mental health being on the forefront with everybody in lockdown and with COVID, and I guess the question that I was asking you there, was essentially from an interest side in the story, but why don’t we keep that as a personal story for you? And.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:01:42] Yeah, no, I have no problem, I love talking about this stuff. You know, my, my new, my new company is, is part of its foundation is based on our emotional state that we’re in. Um, I personally have lived through quite a lot of traumas and PTSD events. So I really want to bring that as part of my business as well. I’m going to hire, um, different alternative therapists and things as well. Um, I’m not gonna go into great detail with my company in it.
Travis Bader: [01:02:15] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:02:15] But I do believe that nature is an amazing place for healing and to work through just common issues that we’re all going through during COVID, especially. I mean, it doesn’t need to be PTSD levels, but you know, our depression is, you know, a growing concern, um, in youth and in adults.
[01:02:36] And so, yeah, I do believe that wilderness places are a way for us to be able to be free enough and be who we truly are to deal with these kinds of, um, mental problems that we’re having in our lives, in our, in our, in our culture for sure. Um, I know for a fact, especially with Alone, uh, I’ll be very honest. It was very traumatizing for me to be pulled out, um, how I was on the show.
Travis Bader: [01:03:02] Tell me about that.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:03:03] Um, yeah, I mean, it did traumatize me. There was no doubt. I mean, I was feeling the happiest and most joyous I can ever remember being on, on a survival trek. I never felt pain and suffering and I was never tired and exhausted. And just all those things that come with survival that you have to work through.
[01:03:23] Somehow I have no idea how this happened, but somehow I just, I never felt those things. I was never hungry, even though it was barely eating. Um, I had, I could hike for miles on my trapline and not feel tired. I mean, it just felt amazing. Even though I was losing a lot of weight and I had lost an extraordinary amount of weight.
Travis Bader: [01:03:45] How much weight did you lose?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:03:46] Um, I, it was over 30 pounds. I came in, I think at about 126 pounds, which wasn’t a lot, I really should try to fatten up. My body’s like, I don’t do this. And you’re like, no, please, I’m going on a show about being fat, I need extra weight. Um, and I think I got down to 97 . Pounds.
Travis Bader: [01:04:09] Wow.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:04:09] I mean, it was a lot. And so really there was concern of my weight loss, there was no doubt about it. And, um, I was concerned to a certain point. Um, I certainly had never seen my body. I knew that there was concern in the producers, I could tell. I mean, they’re very, you know, straight face. I mean, they’re not yakking into your ear and it’s just very like, Hey, I’m doing my job here.
[01:04:32] I’m taking your vitals and blah, blah, blah, blah. I could tell sometimes when I would lift up my shirt as much as they were, I was like, ooh, they looked a little concern there. Um, and so yeah, when I got taken off the show, um, it was, was like, as if I was being kidnapped is how I felt. My mind made it seem like I was being kidnapped against my will.
[01:04:53] And I spent about two weeks, um, trying to heal from that, uh, out in the field. And the production was incredible. They gave me every resource and people to talk to and psychiatrists and.
Travis Bader: [01:05:08] Wow.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:05:08] Amazing food and a recovery program. And they did everything they could to help me. But going from this experience where I’m like living as happy as I could ever be in my life, to quickly, getting on an airplane and flying into a hospital to be tested for something that I was like, there’s nothing with me. Um, and then it’s like, ah, we’re just going to have to monitor you in town and then being in town and just my mind just snapped. And I was like, I need to get out to the woods again.
[01:05:36] And, um, so I got back out to the woods and took about two weeks in this little cabin and they were really great and letting me kind of go out of my cabin when I wanted to. And I started talking and doing just like what I said. I’m like, wow, I really feel terrible about the last, you know, hare that I trapped, um, on the day that I was taken out a hare that I found on the trap line, as I was taking my trap line before I left. I was like, I’m not leaving here until I take all my traps down like, so they hiked around with me.
Travis Bader: [01:06:09] Good for you.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:06:09] Yeah. And, um, yeah, just, it was a slow process and I realized how important nature was for me. And I think for other people too, can be a place to really be able to you know, see the patterns in your life from your past experiences that are still with us and into our future that we still live from. And there are mostly these false beliefs systems that we have about ourselves. These stories that we tell ourselves that is a complete lie.
[01:06:39] Um, you know, especially from traumatic situations, we, we make up all kinds of coping mechanisms and, um, these things can really come to light in the wilderness because it’s just such a pure place to be.
[01:06:51] And safe, you know, as much as we’re, can be afraid of big game and wildlife and spiders and the dark and all these other things like in a safe environment with safe people that know how to take care of you and teaching you to take care of yourself in nature, I think is a great space for, um, helping to heal ourselves and the planet. I really feel like now that the way to save our planet is by healing ourselves. I mean, and that’s kind of the mission of my new company is just.
Travis Bader: [01:07:21] Whoa.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:07:21] Trying to help people have this relationship with nature in a different way. Um, through look, I’m a big adventure fan. So I’m all about pushing the edge, whether it’s pushing the edge of adventure or pushing the edge of self-discovery. And that’s kind of what my new company is going to be about.
Travis Bader: [01:07:40] That’s a very ambitious goal.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:07:42] It is. It’s all going to be, uh, really customized to each individual group or person, um, so that it can be fine tuned to what your fears are potentially or what your, what animals you want to, you know, make better relationships with or see, or so it’ll be really customized to like your interests and nature, so it’s.
Travis Bader: [01:08:02] Very cool.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:03] Um, it’s not just going to be like a one-stop shop for sure.
Travis Bader: [01:08:07] Well, I’m going to put some links up in the, in the bio and on the YouTube page. I know it’s a, uh, a fledging business.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:16] Yes.
Travis Bader: [01:08:16] Do you have a website for it?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:17] I don’t have the website. I just was a-okayed by the name, which I can’t believe the process that I went through through that. I finally decided to make a phone call and say, look, it’s impossible to name a company in 2021, that isn’t already out there. I’m sorry.
Travis Bader: [01:08:32] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:32] Like I’m looking up Sanskrit dictionary just to come up with some words.
Travis Bader: [01:08:36] Come on!
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:37] They finally a-okayed it and I’ve incorporated it. And so I’m just moving into the next steps of getting the website out. And I have a great team of people already ready and.
Travis Bader: [01:08:48] Well, that’s.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:48] I’m excited about it.
Travis Bader: [01:08:49] Hugely helpful. Yeah, trying to get a business started in this day and age in some ways, like if you want an internet based business or something online, incredibly easy.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:08:57] Yes.
Travis Bader: [01:08:58] Low barrier to entry. If you want to have a physical boots on the ground, bricks and mortar type of a business, holy crow, the number of barriers that you have to work through.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:09:09] Oh, I had no idea and I, I’m way over my head in this, you know, my skills are actually in the forest, not sitting like trying to design those corporation. But I’m hiring great people that are experts in their own worlds and to help me. And, um, yeah, I it’s, it’s, uh, it’s one of those things, you know, I’ve always said, um, I’m always doing what scares me the most and I got to say, starting this business is pretty scary, so I know I must be on the right track.
Travis Bader: [01:09:38] Good for you, Nikki. Well, is there anything else that we should chat about?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:09:42] What other, what are things for your listeners, would they be interested in?
Travis Bader: [01:09:48] This whole thing is a figment of my ADHD mind because The Silvercore Podcast, is on paper about hunting, firearms, foraging, fishing, outdoor pursuits, and the people in businesses that comprise the community.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:10:07] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:10:08] But in reality, I’ve had the inventor of the invisible cloak on here.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:10:12] Nice!
Travis Bader: [01:10:13] Really cool guy. And I would have called BS, unless I had, I’ve got a picture in here holding it up.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:10:19] Sick.
Travis Bader: [01:10:20] And the, the guy, Guy Cramer, brilliant fellow. And I thought, well, you know, camouflage, that’s that that’s a hunting thing. We’ll fit that in, right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:10:30] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:10:31] We’ve had a fellow came top of his class on FBI, Virginia Quantico, firearms instructor, and a suffered a horrific motorcycle accident and another fellow who was mauled by a grizzly bear and fought it off of this pocket knife. I mean.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:10:48] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:10:49] The idea behind this podcast is I want to talk with people who I find interesting and.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:10:53] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:10:53] I want to have fun. So if the listeners don’t like what I’m talking about, they could tune into something else. I’m not, I’m not doing it for likes and listens or anything like that. This is just me having fun.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:11:02] Yeah. I’m trying to think of, um, everybody wants to hear some of the stories. That never get published, you know, you know what I mean? Um, I love talking about things that obviously all the big events that happen you have to share, because those are so cool.
Travis Bader: [01:11:18] Sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:11:19] But there’s always these other underlining stories that happen to any of us in the woods that don’t get shared. And especially on a television show, um, you know, someone else is telling your story and.
Travis Bader: [01:11:30] Yeah.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:11:31] It’s hard to, like, there’s not much time to, they’ll tell your story. So it has to be the big events or whatever. Um, and yeah, I, I, I’d never thought that going on a reality TV show for one and a game show, be anything that I would, you know, want to do.
Travis Bader: [01:11:50] But you’re competitive.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:11:51] But I’m super competitive. And I finally realized that there was $500,000 on the line. I did not know in the previous years I was asked. So.
Travis Bader: [01:11:59] Really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:12:00] Yeah I was asked for like five years, every year since it started. And I was like, oh yeah, I’m not really into that. I’m kind of doing stuff or whatever. And then on season six, they’re like, yeah, you don’t want to win the $500,000. I was like, what?
Travis Bader: [01:12:13] Half a million. Sign me up.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:12:15] Yes! Where are we going? And I remember she said, uh, yeah, we’re going to the Arctic. And I was like, ooh, yeah, I don’t really know anything about snowy locations or been in the snow. Um, is there trees and cause all I thought was polar bears and you know.
Travis Bader: [01:12:34] Icebergs, penguins.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:12:35] Icebergs, ice and polar bears that eat you. And she’s like, oh yeah, I think so. I was like, how about I need a hundred percent definition, there’s some trees and then they’ll get back to you. So anyways, she was like, yeah, there’ll be trees. And so I was like, okay. Um, but yeah, I think one of the things I learned about, um, hunting when I was on Alone was, you know, I’m not, I’m not a big game hunter. I’ve only shot animals, bows and arrows, I don’t think of myself as a hunter. Um, I’m a trapper, I have a trap line. I really don’t think of myself as a trapper much either.
Travis Bader: [01:13:10] Sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:13:11] But it was so amazing to learn how to be a hare trapper. It was, I think the best part of my time out there. And I would never have believed that that would have been something I would have been that excited about. And it was so incredible to learn about an animal really didn’t know anything about, I’ve never lived with hares or rabbits, um, and to, you know, have to ditch fishing because it’s just, I didn’t have a spot I needed to wait till it froze over and I was wasting too much time.
[01:13:41] So I was like, okay, I’m switching, I’m gonna just get me a hare trapper. And so walk the landscape and try to find sign that I would, you know, I’d read about, but it wasn’t really have that experience in the woods with and setting up the traps. Like really learning from every rabbit that I trapped, like to be able to learn on the go like that, for your very existence and the money, you know, I was there.
Travis Bader: [01:14:10] Sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:14:10] Not for the experience. The only thing I was there for was that money.
Travis Bader: [01:14:13] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:14:14] I gotta say, I didn’t have these other things that most people do going on the show, like, yeah, I want to test myself. I was like, no, kind of already done that.
Travis Bader: [01:14:21] Been there, done that.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:14:21] I was like, I just want the money. Like, that’s it. And, um, to have something like that, fuelling you is really odd too. Um, And so that I think the learning how to trap that the hares was this really incredible way to, has what we’ve been talking about the whole afternoon of getting a relationship with that land, was through the rabbits and through trapping. It wasn’t me wandering around and, you know, sitting there and getting berries.
[01:14:51] It was actually hunting animals that, um, connected me with that land in a much more deeper way. And I think that’s something that people don’t often think about as far as the hunting world, you know. But I learned so much about that land and the history and the other animals that were living there through those rabbits and the rabbits that I was successful in getting.
[01:14:13] And, um, it was a really profound kind of realization for me that, wow, this is one path to developing this relationship that I’m talking about, which you wouldn’t imagine necessarily to be. But it brings a whole wholeness to the story by utilizing that animal for my own life.
Travis Bader: [01:15:33] It does.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:15:34] Um.
Travis Bader: [01:15:35] You know, non-hunters will have a difficult time understanding that.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:15:39] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:15:40] Because they look at the act of hunting, quite, the initial imagery is typically male dominated, firearm and shooting an animal. And that’s hunting in the non hunter and most non hunters mind. When the diversity in hunters is growing on a daily basis.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:16:02] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:16:02] The act of actually, if you’re using a firearm to hunt, of shooting is only just a minuscule portion of everything that’s involved. And hunters share and understanding of the land and an understanding of the animals, in a way that non-hunters would have a very difficult time to, to appreciate.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:16:25] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I will say there was, there’s so many moments where, you know what I mean, having a hare in your trap was like, this is another day I get to live out in this amazing space. I mean, when I would find an animal or shoot a squirrel, it was like, yes, like couple more days out here I got.
[01:16:48] Like, just everyday I woke up thinking that like, yes, like I’m so excited for life, this intensity and joy for life every day out there was so incredible. And to be able to bring that back into my life now has changed my life completely. And, um, I have to say sometimes I’d be walking my trap line and you know, you’d see the rabbit off in the distance and I’m like, okay, come on. At least just this one time don’t cry. Okay, just come on, you can do it. You know? And I walk up there like, yes, like, you know, I don’t have to just, and then all of a sudden I’d see it.
[01:17:21] I’d just be like so grateful and you know, the sense of gratitude that happens to you out there in a real survival situation like that. Gosh, this, this gratitude is overwhelms me. And I just said like, Oh gosh, okay. Well I definitely, after crying, it’s so fun.
Travis Bader: [01:17:40] And then eating rabbit, that was your primary source of protein, was it?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:17:44] Yeah. Rabbits and squirrels. Uh, and wow. I’d never I’ve tasted hare before, but wow, it was so good. I can’t believe it. Uh, people always are laughing. Cause my favorite part, like my dessert was always the eyeballs. I can’t believe how good those rabbits, the bunny eyeballs were. It was so good. I just saved them to the end and the tongue.
Travis Bader: [01:18:07] You and Bear Grylls, eh?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:10] So ridiculous. I was like, Oh wow. You know, it’s the classic drama of television. I was like, no, wait, this is gourmet, I have to say.
Travis Bader: [01:18:19] Eyeballs.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:20] I’m elevating these guys to gourmet.
Travis Bader: [01:18:23] I’ve had fish eyeballs.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:24] Oh yeah. They’re pretty good.
Travis Bader: [01:18:25] Yeah.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:25] These are better.
Travis Bader: [01:18:26] Better?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:26] I don’t know why, but yeah. I’m all about making, you know, gourmet wild meals. Forget those like disgusting grey soups with ash and charcoal bits in there.
Travis Bader: [01:18:37] Yes. It’s like Bear Grylls episode where he had Will Ferrell out in the whole celebrity take.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:43] Yeah, yeah.
Travis Bader: [01:18:44] And, uh, they just ate the eyeball off. I forget what creature, but then later on there’s a, I think it was an eagle flying above and Will Ferrells, hmm I wonder what it’s eyeballs taste like.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:18:59] That’s awesome. Yeah. He’s classic for eating just gross stuff.
Travis Bader: [01:19:02] Oh totally.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:19:02] That’s his claim to fame.
Travis Bader: [01:19:03] Totally. But I guess if you’re just eating squirrels and rabbits, isn’t there, so, the lack of fat that’s required in order for you to keep the pounds on, but isn’t there a craziness, what’s the word I’m looking for? Isn’t there supposed to be like rabbit fever?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:19:21] Yeah. It’s like a rabbit starvation or rabbit poisoning. There’s an actual term for it. I should know it. Um, but you do and you can’t live off rabbit.
Travis Bader: [01:19:30] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:19:30] We proved that on Alone um.
Travis Bader: [01:19:33] Sure.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:19:33] You literally can’t, there’s no fat, so that’s why fish is pretty important.
Travis Bader: [01:19:38] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:19:38] Because they do have a lot of fat on them and you know, there’s fat around the kidneys or whatever, but it’s so minuscule that, um, yeah, you will die from eating rabbit after awhile. It’s just too high in protein.
Travis Bader: [01:19:49] I’ve heard that you have some sort of a, uh, you can go a little nutty before dying. Or am I off base on this one?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:19:58] Pretty sure you go nutty, once you start starving to death.
Travis Bader: [01:20:00] Yeah, I guess so.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:20:04] Yeah definitely. Your functions of your brain start going down.
Travis Bader: [01:20:08] Knew a fellow. His name was Mike Gallon and he owned a place years ago called Mike’s Musket Shop. Uh, he was a multimillionaire who decided to leave his mansion and all of his property to his wife and his son. And he went up to Lillooet and they called them the grape rancher.
[01:20:30] He built himself a little cinderblock house, and I think he could speak those five different languages, a very eccentric fellow. And he was talking about, uh, when he was in the concentration camps and the amount of weight that he lost and some of the atrocities of the rest, but his first meal that he had when he was out was a very high, fat content meal. And he would always tell me that meal almost killed them.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:20:58] Yes. Well, um, the production team of Alone, they have a very strict re-feeding program for the, for that exact reason. Um, because we are starving to death out there, literally, literally. I mean, there’s been some serious cases of people being pretty sick, um, and pushing yourself to that point of like, wow, like I can barely walk, you know. I know on my first trek I got to the point I could barely walk.
[01:21:26] Uh, I know what that feels like. You can barely move around, like picking up any pot. You’re like, can’t even, you’re just skin and bones.
Travis Bader: [01:21:35] Right.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:21:35] Um, but yeah, so Alone does do that. They have an incredible re-feeding program so that you don’t just shock your body. And it sucks, you know, for most participants because they’re like, dude, I just.
Travis Bader: [01:21:46] Fill me up!
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:21:47] Really haven’t eaten anything for two weeks. Um, I just want to eat, you know, chocolate and candy and whatever. And so there’s just this very long procedure that goes on when you get out of the field, which is fantastic. Otherwise, yeah, there’s a lot of problems that can happen. So do you have a, you have a nutritionalist there, um, that you talk to and she makes up all the meals based on your story out there.
[01:22:10] So if you hadn’t last, you know, if you weren’t out there as long, then it’s different for people who have gone to a certain stage and certain of their, you know, bodies. Yeah. Their weight to their cardio. I mean, you’re all, you have all kinds of tests done on you to determine where you’re at in your re-feeding.
Travis Bader: [01:22:28] What was your re-feeding process? What did that look like?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:22:31] You know, gosh, I was so caught up in my mind. I literally don’t really remember much. I remember them, you know, they see, yeah. It’s broth mostly a broth. Um, there’s no solid foods right away. So it’s just mostly soup with just a broth. Bone broth is um, and then once you get through the bone broth, um, you start getting, I don’t know, there would be, maybe a Cracker.
[01:23:04] I think crackers came pretty late actually. I think the breads and stuff were very late in it. Um, I, I honestly hardly remember. I remember just eating, um, and just journaling. Like I journaled for four days straight without leaving, doing anything. I never slept, I probably didn’t sleep for nine days or something. Seven or nine days when I came out.
Travis Bader: [01:23:25] Really?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:23:25] Oh yeah. It was just like.
Travis Bader: [01:23:26] Just wired.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:23:27] Yeah. Journaling and just like, so, oh my gosh, there was so much going on and being, I don’t just out of that wild setting into, you know, modern, I guess, world, if you will, was just so overwhelming with your senses being so expanded.
Travis Bader: [01:23:46] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:23:46] And it just drove me crazy. You can hear every single thing. So, um, I just journaled and was just like, I’m just gonna write like how I felt out there and why don’t I feel like that now, like I need to get back and then I would just tell them, like, I just want to get back to how I was feeling in the woods and then I’ll be ready to go home and call my family. I mean, I didn’t call my family for a couple of weeks probably until I was like, hey, I figured everything out. I’m ready to go.
Travis Bader: [01:24:13] Did, did you actually have to figure it out?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:24:15] Yeah, I did.
Travis Bader: [01:24:15] Did you?
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:24:16] I, um, they were great. I said, uh, you know, I need some crayons and some big paper and I just turned my cabin into this. It kind of looked like that reminds me of that movie um, beautiful mind.
Travis Bader: [01:24:29] Yes.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:24:29] You know, where he’s got all that, like that’s what this cabin looks like. And it was so amazing when they would come in to, you know, the doctors would be there or whatever. And they’re like, okay. It looks like you’re doing a lot of work in here. As they’re looking around like, crazy town. I’m really got my stuff together. Like I’m just figuring everything out. And, um, so he.
Travis Bader: [01:24:47] You can just bring me a typewriter and a whole bunch of stamps.
They got me a journal
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:24:51] book and I just started writing and, um, it was really amazing. I started venturing out nature obviously and had some incredible, magical experiences on my healing and the Arctic to that, the animals just were like, hey, we’re here. Like, um, it was really neat.
Travis Bader: [01:25:07] Wow.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:25:08] Really, really neat.
Travis Bader: [01:25:10] Well, Nikki, thank you very much for being on this Silvercore Podcast. I really appreciate you coming out here talking.
Nikki van Schyndel: [01:25:17] It’s been really fun. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Thank you so much for having me.
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