We’re pleased to share this Outdoor Revival Interview with the very impressive Nikki van Schyndel. Nikki spends much of her time in Echo Bay, B.C. which is between Northen Vancouver Island and the mainland of Western Canada, an absolutely amazing place.
Nikki’s a published author, with her book based on her experiences and knowledge gained from 18 months immersed in primitive living in the wilds of western Canada, She continues to live the wild life as much as she can and it’s great to talk to her and learn more about her and her life.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us Nikki.
Please tell us a little about yourself and how you would describe who you are.
I’m a city girl who sold her possessions to become a naturalist, tracker and hunter/gatherer. I moved to the wilderness and lived a primitive lifestyle, surviving and eventually thriving off the land and sea for a year and a half. I eventually built a log cabin, following a how-to book and watching a few youtube videos. I finally found my balance and now live off-the-grid on an island in the Great Bear Rainforest. I have large gardens, still forage and fish for my food, cook on a woodstove and have solar panels to run my computer. I’m a fearless adventurer and seeker who is always following my biggest dreams.
You’re known as Daisy Crocket, when did you take on that name?
Years ago, when I decided to stop my primitive living trek. A friend nicknamed me that because of the way I lived, had speared a bear like Davy Crocket and because of my coon skin cap I mad and wore.
You live in an amazing part of the world, have you lived anywhere else?
I’ve travelled quite a bit, but the longests I’ve lived anywhere else than the Pacific Northwest has been 5 months in New Zealand and 4 months in Hawaii.
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned from your time in the wilderness?
To live my life trusting my intuition. That my thoughts are real and that I can manifest anything I need….(wait that’s 3 lessons!)
What’s your favourite time of year and why?
September. Tourists have left in their boats, the wilderness is quiet again, like you have it all to yourself, it’s warm and usually sunny and the whales, grizzly bears and all the other wildlife are still around.
What advice would you give someone that want’s to live a wilderness based life?
Rent a cabin off the grid or volunteer to help out for awhile and see if it truly is the lifestyle you want. It’s not all fairy-tale bliss like we’ve come to associate it with.
Do you ever think about running courses for people that want to experience what you live?
Yes, I am in the planning stages for 2017.
You’ve written a book (I know because I’ve bought it!) what led you to writing it and have you thought about writing another one?
I wrote it for my Mom. She’s always supported me in all my unorthodox decisions and life paths and I wanted to honor her for that. I didn’t want friends reading my diaries either and yes, I think about writing another book a lot.
If you could spend a day with anyone (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
Jesus, Babaji, Merlyn or any other Master. To expand my knowing of who I truly am, the power within us all and to open my heart even wider to the joy, love and light of this world and beyond my imagination. ( ohh, I forgot to mention Geronimo or other Apache Scouts, so guess I’m envisioning a gathering of minds and hearts)
What’s your favorite wild food and why?
Insect: cricket plant: cattail game: cougar
What’s your favourite non wild food and why?
Almond butter, easy…it can be eaten on everything! Oh wait…coconut bliss ice cream!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve needed to do?
Let go, forgive and heal the wounds of my past, my hidden emotions and sabotaging patterns I’ve created to keep me bound in a false sense of safety and familiarity, to step away from expected societal norms.
How much time do you spend in the wilderness vs civilization?
8 months wild for sure around 4 months total city
If this isn’t too personal (ignore if you wish), how do you pay your bills? There’s lots of people that would like to earn a living from being in the wilderness but I imagine that it’s very hard to do so.
It’s very difficult where I am to find work and work I feel good about doing, you basically have to get creative. I’m a wilderness guide. I run custom “tours” from where I live a few months of the year, I work on commercial fishing boats when I need money, I sell produce and basically do whatever I can to “pay bills” I’m fortunate I enjoy living very simply in the wilderness and have property I don’t have to pay for.
What’s your favorite way of relaxing?
Just sitting in the forest somewhere or jumping in my speedboat to find some island to explore.
Going through your book it’s evident that you were constantly learning and experiencing new things, I’d imagine that this was also a very trying time, how did you cope with the inevitable emotional ups and downs of a wilderness life?
Whenever I wanted to quit, wondering why I chose that lifestyle, when i was frustrated, hurt, beat down…I took a breath and wandered to my secret spot. Just sitting somewhere in sacred silence, opening all my senses as wide as I could, just listening and then something always would remind me of how much I loved the wilderness and why. How free I felt, to know true happiness, to have nothing and everything all at the same time. I also learned to laugh at everything, including myself.
What’s your favourite joke? (clean one please!)
I’m the worst at remembering jokes. I can laugh at jokes and watch movies over and over as if it’s the first time.
In your book you describe the character of Sam Gribley, from the book My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead george, as your hero when you were younger, Is that still the case and if it is why?
I will always smile when I think of Sam Gribley. As a kid I always wanted to be him, live his adventures and in a sense I did, so I wouldn’t say he’s my hero in that sense anymore, but I definitely have that book on my shelf.
Have you got any Women specific advice that you would like to give for any that are thinking of adventuring in the wilderness more?
Woman truly are as tough as men and I mean mind tough, spirit tough, a power inside unique to women that often has been seen as weakness, especially as a hunter. This compassion, this inner knowing, this ability to connect, to nurture is what makes a true survivor and enables us to become that classic term, “one with nature”. We don’t have to lose our femininity just because we want to become an outdoorsman or love nature more than the city. And that includes painting our toenails or wearing the latest fashions.
Q – What do you hope the future holds for you?
I’m not often the “hoping” type of person. Hope is necessary for many people, but for me, I feel there’s an “exit to failure” type of energy with it. There’s a feeling of maybe my dream will happen and maybe it won’t. I co-create my future with every thought, we all do and so I will be traveling the world more, exploring endangered lands, people and animals and sharing my adventures and what all the natural world is teaching me.
Are there any other wilderness areas that you would like to live in for a time? If there are, why?
I want to experience it all!
Right at the end of your book you talk about your return from Eden, you’re at your Mother’s house and you’re struggling with the physical and mental differences between the wilderness and civilisation. I think this is an amazing experience that demonstrates how we adapt but also how much we’ve changed from our natural condition.
Is this adjustment from wilderness to civilisation something that’s become easier to do or is it always the same for you? Can you tell us a little more about that first experience?
I’ve had to learn how to tone down my senses when I leave my wild life for awhile. It’s always a hard adjustment, certainly not as overwhelming as the year and a half. Living a little modern now in the wilderness has helped the transition.
For example, I don’t get headaches from lighting, tho I mostly live with candles still. The fast paced energy, the constant hum of background noise…all of it, it feels unnatural a lot of the time and city life quickly wants to make me feel disconnected too.
When I first came back, it was as if my unconscious habits and knowing of city life had been replaced with noticing a new color green that could be a new edible plant or hearing a distant bird alarm that makes me stop and listen, so it felt like I was slowly healing from amnesia of sorts, trying to remember what to do to cross a street safely or how to manage myself at a restaurant. And nothing felt quite right; food, the air, the water all tasted and smelled unhealthy to me.
There were so many choices to make everywhere, choices for pleasure, not so much for life as what I was use to. I felt like I was truly living out in the wilderness and in the city I felt tired even tho I wasn’t working hard, I felt bored even tho there are so many things to do, it’s still that way for me now.
I love harvesting my own food, being cold and warming up by a woodstove, I love my freedom and so after a couple of weeks I’m ready to return to my wild life. The wilderness is a part of me now and I can never leave it for long and be truly happy yet.
What do you think would be a really interesting question to be asked?
The one you just asked me! Or??? what survival skills or bushcraft knowledge has enriched your modern life? Nah…how about…what is the purpose of life after all I’ve seen and done in wild?
What’s the answer to the previous question?
To unconditionally love, to discover the truth of who we are and to shine that light for others who are caught in the darkness, to follow our biggest dreams that make our hearts laugh and dance and to wonder and think miraculously.
Can you share an uplifting / positive experience with us?
I guess it’s not one particular experience to share, but to let people know that what we’ve read in books or heard stories about with regards to the magic, mystery and miraculous feats and experiences people have had throughout the ages with nature and wildlife are all possible. I’ve been blessed to witness such things. And it’s not just for the “special” or “gifted” or “chosen ones” this life is waiting for all of us know matter where we live, city or wilderness.
Thanks so much for your time and for getting out there and doing the things that so many dream of doing, you’ve become an inspiration to many and I hope that you carry on living a life full of amazing things and we continue to hear about them.
Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting you to the Outdoors