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What is wilderness?

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Postby welle » Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:42 pm

jdzaharia wrote: Heck, a coworker almost had to spend an unplanned night at work when he got locked in the hallway to the bathrooms. While that would really stink, it's not wilderness.


priceless!
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:30 am

Lolli wrote:To me, wilderness is unroaded land, vast, and if you're lost, it will take you days to get back. Forest or mountaineous presumably. But that's simply because that's the way it is here.


Sweden needs a desert. Or tundra. Or prairie. Or a really big cave.

You can get lost in any of those, very well.
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Postby lcarreau » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:12 am

FortMental wrote:Didn't Moses find wilderness? And look at who he ran into.....



Let my people go !

Image
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Postby dan2see » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:31 am

BLong wrote:My favorite parts of the legal definition are locations that offer opportunities for "solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation" and are "untrammeled by man."


"Solitude" is certainly not wilderness, especially if it includes recreation. It just isn't wild, it's a human use of land.

"Untrammeled": now that's more like it!

My favorite wild place isn't very big: Porcupine Ridge in Kananaskis. It's described as a "trail" in a couple of guide-books, but when I explored there, there was not any kind of sign of human visitation. Except for a couple of peanut shells about 2 km from the start. Last year, however, I found two small fire-rings in the woods. So it's still pretty wild, but I'm worried about over-use.

So then I tried exploring further along the creek. About 5 km up the valley, the only sign of humans was a patch of grass that I had trammeled previously. So now I choose to leave it alone.

I've found several areas, at least a few kilometers across either dimension, that have been un-touched, even if they are within hearing of the highway, with cell-phone coverage, too. The big animals -- sheep, elk, and bears -- enjoy these areas in total peace. You can find plenty of evidence that they are using the hills regularly, and no sign of human visitation. I'd call that wilderness.

These wild areas that I've explored are generally difficult terrain, sometimes all class 3 or worse. But more importantly they do not provide access to recreation. I mean, the upper ends of the valleys have interesting rocky slopes and peaks, but these tend to be chossy and not prominent peaks. They are not destinations for hikers and scramblers.

When humans discover a "use" for a piece of terrain, it's used, abused, mis-used, and its character is altered in certain ways -- it's not wilderness anymore. And that's the key: any land can be wilderness, until we make it a destination for our use.

This negative definition means that all wilderness is on-notice that they can enjoy their peace, but only until we take over.
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Postby billisfree » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:23 am

I always thought as a wilderness... anyplace where you can't quickly reach an outside road in less than a day's hike.

I guess the forest service's definition - is any land where logging is not allowed and the area must be left in it's natural state.
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Postby Lolli » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:28 pm

Arthur Digbee wrote:
Lolli wrote:To me, wilderness is unroaded land, vast, and if you're lost, it will take you days to get back. Forest or mountaineous presumably. But that's simply because that's the way it is here.


Sweden needs a desert. Or tundra. Or prairie. Or a really big cave.

You can get lost in any of those, very well.


Oh, I would have loved that!
:D

What's real wilderness to me, is the jungle. If meaning one doesn't know one's ways around, don't know what's dangerous or not, don't know how to find the way etc, then I'd say jungle. Don't know much about deserts either, but a little bit more than about jungles.
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Postby EastcoastMike » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:40 pm

Wilderness to me is any place away from civilization where I feel I can enjoy quiet and calm.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:53 pm

dan2see wrote:"Untrammeled": now that's more like it!


Does that mean "no trail" ? I think a lot of us have been on a trail and felt we were in a wild place.

To return to the OP, after we had bushwhacked through the rhododendrons we reached the summit. I'd been there before, and the group knew that. Still, they said, "It's so cool being someplace no one else has ever been before!"

"Uh, didn't I tell you that I've been here before?"

"But you don't count."

:oops:
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Postby builttospill » Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:08 pm

Arthur, your last post touches on what I was wanting to say while reading this thread. As for other people, "I know it when I see it." But my primary determining factor is whether I can conceivably imagine that I am all alone or that I am the first person to be there.

This typically means that areas within easy sight of cities are out, even if they are brushy and overgrown. It also means that I might consider an area with trails "wilderness" if I don't notice them and if I see no one else.

It is the thought of being able to say, with a straight face, "we're the first people to be here" and maybe make yourself actually believe it for a few seconds.
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Postby Doublecabin » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:15 am

I was fortunate to know the Gros Ventre Wilderness as a boy and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in college before either of them were designated. Wilderness designation brought a lot more people, but they are almost all hikers with some horseback riders. As much as I wish the Sangres were as wild as I knew them 30 years ago I am grateful for their ultimate protection.

I share many of the sentiments all of you have expressed so well. For me Wilderness is something I ultimately better be pretty darn well prepared for. Beyond risk mitigation value from wilderness for me comes as something to give me a dose of humility as an individual and a species. Sometimes wilderness doesn't stop at the boundary. When I nearly !@#$ my drawers with a nearly 1K pound Grizzly standing on his hinds at less than 9 yards I knew for sure I was in the Wilderness...not a quarter mile from my door.

HYOH, but make sure we all have something to hike.
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Postby mconnell » Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:42 pm

Lolli wrote: If meaning one doesn't know one's ways around, don't know what's dangerous or not, don't know how to find the way etc,


Sounds like the description of any big city.
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Postby mrh » Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:57 pm

mconnell wrote:
Lolli wrote: If meaning one doesn't know one's ways around, don't know what's dangerous or not, don't know how to find the way etc,


Sounds like the description of any big city.


:lol:
I got so lost in the New Orleans Wilderness once. Hate the place.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:15 pm

mrh wrote:
mconnell wrote:
Lolli wrote: If meaning one doesn't know one's ways around, don't know what's dangerous or not, don't know how to find the way etc,

Sounds like the description of any big city.

I got so lost in the New Orleans Wilderness once. Hate the place.

And in New York you might be more than a day away from medical care if you get hurt.
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