Tag Archives: wilderness

Wilderness

Wild.  Wilder.  Wilderness.

Three words from one.

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Wild…what I have always been seeking.  Since I was a child and could sit in Granddad’s back yard, feeling the roaring summer heat; reaching out, sensing the touch of a firefly at evening as it lit upon my small fingers (we call ’em “lightning bugs” in North Carolina).

Wild…what I saw as a young boy at the state natural history museum.  Wild, but wild that was “preserved,” with all the life-energy drained away.  Still, echoes of life abounded in the bones and skin and stuffed display.  Wild was always there — never to die, though the animal was but preserved carcass.

Wilder…when I was in my early 30’s and visited a zoological park.  Real wild — more so than in the museum — yet caged, restricted.  Wilder…looking me in the eye.  Wilder…telling me it would be a wondrous freedom to raise the latch and let it go; a foreign creature roaming free in the land.

Wilder…as I roamed into the forest and had a nerve-shaking encounter with a rattlesnake.  Wilder, fiercer, rattling rage which said “stay back, beware!”

Wilder…encircled while in camp by a black bear, who wandered around my tent coming ever closer.  I remember striking the cooking pan with a stick, blowing a whistle, all to no avail as wilder came…nearer.  Only striking the earth with my hiking staff in a desperate attempt to drive the creature off met with success.

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Wilder…jangling the nerves.  Storms ambushing me while I scaled great heights, pummeling the ridges with rain, savaging the peaks with lightning, causing me to pause and duck and dart beneath sheltering trees for fear of being struck.

Wilderness…in the deep balsam forest, amid a million mirroring lakes and ponds, across land studded with peat bog and few signs of human activity.  Wilderness at last…home in the deepest sense.  Wilderness!  What I had been walking for, seeking for, ever thirsting for.

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Wilderness…atop the high-winded peak at velocity enough to tip me over.  Elemental threats amid the glory of sailing clouds and bright sun and deep cold.  Wilderness that pounded my soul and heart with a message: This is life!  Breathe in, feel the caress; embrace the moment as the space between you and eternity becomes thin enough for you to reach beyond daily cares and concerns.  The mundane will soon return…but or now…

Wilderness!

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, challenge, Courage, danger, Decision making, Fear, Hiking, risk, Writing

Dear Gear

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Photo courtesy Thruhike98 at Flickr.

Dear Hiking Gear,

First off, I am sorry.  Sorry that you’ve been stowed away in boxes on the upper shelf of my dark closet.  I am sorry I separated you into “gear I normally use” and “spare gear” whose box lid I rarely open.

For instance.  I love my Whisperlite white gas backpacking stove.  But, I also like my Svea 123, the old brass workhorse whose coarse and noisy voice was a welcome wake-up on many memorable mornings.

Dear Whisperlite, I love you for your quiet voice.  But, Svea, I respect you for your simplicity and reliability.  Just because I boxed you doesn’t mean I don’t care.  Don’t you remember when we walked down memory lane and I polished you with Brasso last summer?  I know — I didn’t light you up, so the shine job doesn’t really count.  But I still know you’re there; ready to rock should the Whisperlite fail…

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Photo courtesy kc7fys at Flickr.

Yes, dear gear — I’ll still keep you.  And if you doubt that, remember the old Kelty Tioga pack frame.  You know the one.  The pack bag is long gone, but I can’t part with the hardy aluminum skeleton.  Sure, I’ll never find a replacement for the pack bag, but I’ve kept the frame safe and sound.  Along with the Sierra tent, First Need water filter, and Svea stove.

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Photo courtesy Simonov at Flickr.

Take heart, dear gear.  Maybe we’ll all have a class reunion one day.  And, yes, expect to see a Spork, some titanium cooking gear, and an ultralight backpack on the guest list.

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Filed under A.T., Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Backpacking gear, Camping, Hiking, outdoor gear, Travel

The risks and rewards of hiking solo as a woman

Aislinn gives an interesting perspective about backpacking solo.Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 11.21.26 AM

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Filed under Achievements, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, challenge, coffee, Courage, Hiking, risk, Walking, wilderness

Imagining with your pen

landscape-1622739_1920Is is somewhere in the Himalayas?  The Canadian wilds, perhaps?  Maybe even the dark land of — Mordor?!  Wherever you think this wild wonder is, take ten minutes with your journal and pen and imagine you’ve been dropped off in this vast landscape.  You have nothing but a knife and a short length of rope and a small container of water.  You have five days to get to civilization or summon rescue.  What would you do?  What’s most important first — food? water? shelter? fire?  Let your imagination roam with the exercise.  Enjoy the challenge of trying to sort things out on paper, as opposed to actually being right there in the middle of it.  What did you learn about yourself?  What did you think and feel?  What skills did you have?  How did your exercise turn out?

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, challenge, Courage, danger, Fear, Hiking, Outdoor skills, risk, wilderness

An Appalachian Trail Backpacker’s Code

As backpackers and hikers gear up for another season in the wild, it seemed appropriate to revisit this post.

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr

Daniel Wood left journals from hikes he had taken. Among those pages I discovered this document. I testify it was written by him. He requested whoever discovered it would post it online for all Appalachian Trail hikers and backpackers.

A Backpacker’s Code

I realize that choosing to hike this trail is a fulfilling, but serious endeavor. In setting foot here, I choose to be responsible not just for myself, but for those I meet on the trail. While I may never find myself in such a situation, I owe it to myself and others to hike responsibly and stand ready to help another backpacker should the situation arise.

I realize that I am to be responsible to myself first, and self-reliant to the extent of my backpacking and camping skills. If I do not have the basic skills of the art I will seek out seminars…

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Life direction, Long distance backpacking, Outdoor sports, Travel, Walking, Wildlife