The wilderness beckons. A system of trails into the deep forest, where wildlife roam freely and animal tracks are the only footprints you might come across on the path. There is a silence, a calm that can not be mimicked by any transient audio relaying through a screen. There is a serenity a truthfulness to the wide open vastness of lands untouched by human hands.
Where birds flit and flutter freely and sandhill cranes call to one another joyfully. Deer walk coyly through the bush in search of favorite drinking spots, flowing glacial waters. Wolf prints litter the mud, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand stiff. There is so much silence yet so much to be heard in the chatter of the forest. Sounds come at you from all directions, making you curious, alert, aware of your senses. In this wilderness, one can not survive a muted existence. One must be conscious, awake, mindful of each movement. One must breathe in sync with the great breath of the earth.
Wildflowers sway their whimsical heads in the wind, surrounding us on all sides as we walk along the winding dirt trail. Butterflies twirl in soft dance, circling us, resting weary wings on petals delight. Chipmunks and ground squirrels scurry in flight, perching atop fallen logs, watching us with keen curious eyes. The buzzing of bees pollinating, the roar of rushing water and wild winds, a symphony.
We hiked through shrouded hills, towering mounds of rocky earth, through fragmented forest over fallen trees. The earth opened its mouth, rolling tongue of cloud over jagged edges. Sheer faced walls blanketed with scattered snow. The sun sent waves of heat down through the valley colliding with gusts of winds. A clash of temperature.
The creek swelled, rushing violently, tearing a path through the valley and disappearing out of view. The water so crystal, so clear, so inviting. Curiosity and desire left us with frozen toes and chilled bones. Back into the sun we went, baking ourselves in her bliss.
Our minds were set on the scenery and what she’d be like after dark. Dressed in starry garments, mystical and enchanting. We found decent ground to set our tent, views of the mountains and the sound of water flowing.
We gathered stones and larger rocks to build a fire pit because we knew when the sun went into hiding, the cold winds would come out to play. We built it up nice and tall to keep any flames or embers from blowing away.
The forest was full with dry dead limbs, so we collected our firewood for the evening. Stomachs grumbled with unrest, eager to ingest. Our menu; Backpackers Pad Thai or Kathmandu curry. The pad Thai was by far, the better of the two.
The sun began to sink behind the mountains, highlighting certain things in a golden glow. The chill creeped up on us quickly, we set our wooden teepee ablaze. Flames licked the cold air, surrounding us with warmth. The fire had an unrelenting hunger, demanding to be fed more and constantly catered to. We didn’t mind, it kept us both satisfied.
Warm and bundled cozy, weariness covered us like a blanket. After several douses of glacier water, the fire was put to rest. Into the tent we went, huddled in our zero degree sleeping bags. Alarms set for 3am stargazing. We awoke with a start, time passed us by too quickly in slumber.
Eyes half closed, staggering through the dark we went out to see the view.
The moon was still hogging the spotlight, but some stars began to show their faces, appearing coyly out of the dark. The water reflected the light from the moon, glowing silver and flowing off into the darkness.
Not a sound stirred, except the moving water, which rocked us like a lullaby back into the tent.
The wilderness beckons, calling to us incessantly. There are only so many areas left in this world, not impacted severely by human activity. It is up to us to preserve this beauty, to protect it and to treat it with respect. When you are visiting wilderness areas, please remember the number one rule: LEAVE NO TRACE.
Pack out what you pack in. Do not litter your trash. Drown your fires.
These small things are so important to acknowledge and put into action to preserve and protect nature. We are so thrilled to spend our summer in the Sawtooth National Recreation area, with the Sawtooth Mountains in our backyard. -Written by T