Nature and the beast within.

On: Tuesday, September 9, 2008

According to my latest issue of Backpacker Magazine there is only one place in the lower 48 that is 20 miles from any road. It's in the Teton Wilderness deep in the heart of Wyoming's Yellowstone ecosystem. You have no idea how hard that struck me.


This fall I am taking a backpacking trip to the Butterfield Trail with a friend. This is about as solitary as I can get and still keep the wife happy. For some reason backpacking alone in a place called Devil's Den does not sound like a good idea to her. I know I usually go with a group, but my friend and I wanted to see what it's like to go solo...er...semisolo...is that a word?

I've always had a strong desire to be alone in nature, this seems to grow stronger as I grow older. I want to be surrounded by what makes this earth beautiful. I want to see things that are bigger than I can grasp. I want to sit and listen to nature as it should be, not as it has become. I want to test my limits in survival as fore fathers did. I want to test my strengths, my weaknesses. I want to find out what it is like to truly be alone. I want to use my feet to travel long distances. I want to be in a place that is so remote that I KNOW I am the only human within miles and miles. I want to see bison and hear wolves howl. I want to see bears and elk, moose and eagles. I want to see the earth as it was carved by God before it was changed by man for his own use. I want to see the beauty God has made. Whether it's a flower blooming in the snow, or a raging mountain storm, or even the deep hues of pink, purple, and orange in a desert sunset, I want to see it, I want to experience it.

Snake River, Grand Teton National Forest (not Teton Wilderness)

This desire probably stems from growing up in the sticks and my current plight of living in the city. It probably comes from a desire to see something bigger than the world that has been made around me. It probably comes from an underlying desire to shed peoples attitudes and lack of courtesy for a place I can understand. I do like the city and it's conveniences, as much as anyone like me can, yet I have a constant desire to shed the lights and sounds and to get back into what made this land desirable. The Frontier is what I want to see, the wild in such a way that it impresses a marked change in your soul. Yet, I never will...ever. Our frontier left us in the late 1800's and our human desire for more has left this land scarred. Maybe there isn't such a place. Maybe the romantic ideas of a land teeming with wildlife and beauty is nothing but dreams. While I "know" it was not easy back "in the day", I still have this desire. Of course, I want to travel the land on horseback too, but that's another post.

Part of the problem in this is sharing it with others. I do want to share an experience like that with my family and friends, only how can I really understand what it is like to be alone when I am with people? I love my wife and daughter dearly and don't see how long I could live without them for any period of time. I am also very conscious of a loneliness that borders on a slight depression when I am by myself too long. What an strange world this is.

So anyways, I am going on a backpacking trip this fall. I hope it will curb my 'nature' appetite for at least a month as I am going to canoe part of the Buffalo River with my Dad a few weeks after that. I can't WAIT until my daughter is old enough for her and my wife to join me on a trip.

Buffalo River Trail, March '08

So will this be a solitary trip? No. Is this a difficult trip? Not compared to others. What do I hope to find out there? I don't know, but I pray it's fun.

I still need to figure out what God wants me to do with this desire...

10 comments on "Nature and the beast within."

Percussivity said...

I can relate to a large degree to what you are feeling. However for me I don't need to go alone to get that 'fix'. Backpacking in a small group is more than enough simply because typically everyone hikes in silence for long periods of time and all you hear aside form the footfalls of your companions is nature.

Now I would love to go hiking in a new environment (i.e. not in the Midwest) but even hiking in Missouri for the most part curbs my appetite for that vast wilderness experience you speak of.

My wife is not much of an outdoorsy person so I doubt I will ever be taking the entire family out on anything other than an overnight... but we'll see.

Also on a side note; presumably I am not the only one like this... but the 'call of nature' as it were, disregarding all pop culture references to the need to relieve one's self, increases by about 100 fold when the Fall weather changes and leaves start falling off the trees.

The Unabashed Blogger said...

It's not that I need to go alone to get that fix, it's actually 2 different things. I need a "nature fix" and I need to figure out what it's like to feel true, natural, solitude.

I would almost describe it as a primal urge. Kinda like when pesky customers bring out the brutal mauling tendencies within. I really, really, don't like A-hole customers.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Nature is beautiful.

Just have some 00 buck on hand in case you find yourself at mortal odds with Beautiful Nature! ;)

The Angry Coder said...

I would like to try a trip where I have more to look at than the ground in front of me or your ass at the head of the trail, likely taking us the wrong direction. I do biking for endurance stuff and alone time. And hold on to those fond dreams of hiking with your family... I'd love to go and push push push you the whole time so you can all enjoy it! >:D

The Unabashed Blogger said...

You sound so bitter...or lonely...I'm not sure which...

The Angry Coder said...

I'm definitely not lonely! But yeah, probly a little bitter. It's okay though, someday you'll 'get it'. For now, remember that dreams are like stars: you may never touch them, but if you follow them they may lead you to your destiny.

Percussivity said...

Stop that stop that!!... your not doin a song while I'm 'ere.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

But faaahhhhhthahhhh....

The Unabashed Blogger said...

Angry said: "Remember that dreams are like stars: you may never touch them, but if you follow them they may lead you to your destiny."


Chinese for lunch? Usually their english isn't that good...

Percussivity said...

Unabashed... where is the backpacking trip recap post????