Seeking Wilderness, Still

A place to sit.

The sky cleared after a long day of rain. It is barely eight at night but already the constellations are shining bright. A shooting star catches my eye. Red blinking airplane lights break the still sky. Even here, in the far north corner of Maine, powerlines hover over stands of forest outside the Baxter State Park boundary line. Moose ponds are intercepted by hunter’s roads. Sometimes it feels as if there are more people than stars.

Yet we are all part of this force of life, wilderness would not exist without non-wilderness. None of us exist entirely independent of each other. Have you ever looked back on your footprints after trotting through dune grass? Or stopped to restore the campsite you set up off trail? Why do we map wilderness areas for hiking and hunting? Aren’t cities excellent human habitat models because they limit our impact?

In the trail journal at Hurd Brook, the last (or second to last) shelter on the Appalachian Trail going north, a through-hiker’s last thoughts were brief, “there’s no better way to appreciate something than to go without it for a little while.”

With all these maps and signs and directions and instructions and fees and regulations, where else can we find wilderness but from within?

Unclimbed (by me) Katahdin.

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