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Thursday morning….getting caught up on various emails….and other personal correspondence….things I’ve neglected because of time spent away from home….and being offline for last few days….I’m heading back up to Fort Severn soon (Monday morning)….

But it is great to be able to just unwind….relax for a bit….think about all sorts of things….I have been thinking of lots of stuff recently….and came across this quote which I thought was worth sharing:

Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? – Aldo Leopold from “A Sand County Almanac”

Not sure if I am trading awareness….or accepting anything of a lesser value….but education never ends….even at my advanced age LOL LOL….

Just a few words of wisdom on the need for wilderness:

The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth … the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see. — Edward Abbey (controversial American writer and naturalist)

A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself. — Edward Abbey (controversial American writer and naturalist)

The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone — and to no one. — Edward Abbey (controversial American writer and naturalist)

Why wilderness? Because we like the taste of freedom; because we like the smell of danger. – Edward Abbey, Beyond the Wall

We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to go there…. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope. – Edward Abbey

Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should–not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water. – Senator Clinton P. Anderson (Senator of New Mexico (1949-1973); U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (1945-1948)), July 1963, from American Forests

Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. — Harvey Broome (co-founder of The Wilderness Society)

Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness. Britain won its wars on the playing fields of Eton. America developed its mettle at the muddy gaps of the Cumberlands, in the swift rapids of its rivers, on the limitless reaches of its western plains, in the silent vastness of primeval forests, and in the blizzard-ridden passes of the Rockies and Coast ranges. — Harvey Broome (co-founder of The Wilderness Society)

If we lose wilderness, we lose forever the knowledge of what the world was and what it might, with understanding and loving husbandry, yet become. — Harvey Broome (co-founder of The Wilderness Society)

These are islands in time — with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind. In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting. — Harvey Broome (co-founder of The Wilderness Society)

To me, a wilderness is where the flow of wildness is essentially uninterrupted by technology; without wilderness the world is a cage. — David Brower (American environmentalist and mountaineer, founder of the Sierra Club)

There is not as much wilderness out there as I wish there were. There is more inside than you think. — David Brower (American environmentalist and mountaineer, founder of the Sierra Club)

The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it… It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust. – Frank Church (Democratic Idaho Senator, 1957-1981)

The wilderness is a place of rest — not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure, after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance. — David Douglas (Scottish botanist)

Without enough wilderness America will change. Democracy, with its myriad personalities and increasing sophistication, must be fibred and vitalized by the regular contact with outdoor growths — animals, trees, sun warmth, and free skies — or it will dwindle and pale. — Ralph Waldo Emerson (American writer and philosopher and co-founder of Transcendental Club)

The exquisite sight, sound, and smell of wilderness is many times more powerful if it is earned through physical achievement, if it comes at the end of a long and fatiguing trip for which vigorous good health is necessary. Practically speaking, this means that no one should be able to enter a wilderness by mechanical means. – Garrett Hardin, The Ecologist

Remember, you belong to Nature, not it to you. – Archibald Belaney, aka Grey Owl

Human beings, as a whole, deny to animals any credit for the power of thought, preferring not to hear about it and ascribing everything they do to instinct. Yet most species of animals can reason, and all men have instinct. Man is the highest of living creatures, but it does not follow a corollary that Nature belongs to him, as he so fondly imagines. He belongs to it. That he should take his share of the gifts she has so bountifully provided for her children, is only right and proper; but he cannot reasonably deny the other creatures a certain portion. They have to live too. – Grey Owl, Tales Of An Empty Cabin, pp. 325-26

I sit alone. And all of the Voices of the Night are all around me, and swift rustlings, soft whisperings and almost noiseless noises encompass me about.

And the moon throws eerie shadows down along the aisles between the trees, where strange shapes and formless objects stand like waiting apparitions, where moonbeams lie in glimmering pools, and spots of light like eyes peer out from the darksome ambuscade.

On the shore, in a little group, some tiny beavers sit, and sniff, and look, and whisper low, like children seeing goblins in a graveyard. – Grey Owl, Tales Of An Empty Cabin, p. 334

In the wide spaces between the smooth grey hardwoods, stood the bodies of huge white pines, fluted red-brown columns upwards of six feet across, rearing their bulk up through the roof of leaves, to be shut off completely from further view; yet raising their gigantic proportions another half a hundred feet above the sea of forest, to the great plumed heads that bowed to the eastward each and every one, as though each morning they salute the rising sun. – Grey Owl, The Men Of The Last Frontier, pp. 131-32

The Wilderness should now no longer be considered as a playground for vandals, or a rich treasure trove to be ruthlessly exploited for the personal gain of the few – to be grabbed off by whoever happens to get there first. - Grey Owl, Tales of an Empty Cabin, Preface

And the tree that lived so long, stood patiently and waited for the end. The first axe struck. The tree gave no sign, but stood in all its grand composure and nobility to the last – and then swayed a little, and started on its journey to the ground. With a moaning, screaming cry, as its fibres ripped apart and its sweeping superstructure tore downwards through the air, the mighty conifer crashed to earth…. - Grey Owl, Tales of an Empty Cabin, “The Tree”

They are of all shapes and sizes, these shy, elusive Dwellers among the Leaves who have broken the rules of all the furtive folk, and have come from out the dark circle of the woods to stay with me, some permanently and others from time to time. They range all the way from the small, black, woolly beaver-mouse who goes hopefully around wondering when I am going to leave the lid off the butter dish…. – Grey Owl, Tales of an Empty Cabin, “All Things Both Great and Small”

In places the forest dwindles down to small trees which, giving way to moss and sagebrush thin out and eventually disappear altogether, and the country opens out into one of those immense muskegs or swamps which make overland travel in whole sections of this territory impossible in the summer time. These consist mostly of stretches composed of deep, thin mud, covered with slushy moss and perhaps sparsely dotted with stunted, twisted trees. –Grey Owl, Men of the Last Frontier, “The Land of Shadows

This hinterland yet remains a virgin wilderness lying spread out over half a continent; a dark, forbidding panorama of continuous forest, with here and there a glistening lake set like a quicksilver amongst the tumbled hills. - Grey Owl

Here and there along its course are mighty waterfalls, some with rainbows at the foot of them… - Grey Owl, Tales of an Empty Cabin, “The River”

Here and there, too, the sable carpet of evergreen tree-tops is gashed by long shining ribbons of white, as mighty rivers tumble and roar their way to Hudson’s Bay, walled in on either side by their palisades of spruce trees, whose lofty arches give back the clatter of rapids or echo to the thunder of the falls… – Grey Owl, Men of the Last Frontier, “Land of the Shadows”

The white pine, king of all the Forest, at one time the mainstay of the lumber industry, is now only existent in a few remote districts, or in reserves set aside by a wise government. But the pine is hard to save. Politics have still a little to say, for it is a profitable tree, and many are the hungry eyes turned on the rolling dark green forest of the reserved lands. – Grey Owl, Men of the Last Frontier

The Height of Land is, for some reason, the breeding place of storms of a severity and suddenness that makes a familiarity with the signs preceding them imperative to those itineraries include lakes of any size. – Grey Owl, Men of the Last Frontier, “The Trail”

There are many who walk through the woods like blind men. – Grey Owl, Tolerance

There is a peculiar, indescribable charm attached to night journeying that is handed down to some of us from the dawn of time; few can realize, without the experience, the feeling of wilderness and barbaric freedom that possesses the soul of one who travels alone in the dark, out on the edge of the world…. – Grey Owl

The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit. – Joseph Wood Krutch (American writer, critic, and naturalist), 1958, from Today and All Its Yesterdays

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength. - Jack Kerouac

The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow… the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness, then, assumes unexpected importance as a laboratory for the study of land – health. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is a continuous stretch of county preserved in its natural state, open to lawful hunting and fishing, big enough to absorb a two weeks’ pack trip, and kept devoid of roads, artificial trails, cottages, or other works of man. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map? — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility. The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. — Charles A. Lindbergh (American aviator, flew first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927), December 22, 1967, from Life

There is just one hope for repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every inch on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom and preservation of the wilderness. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society)

For me and for thousands with similar inclinations, the most important passion of life is the overpowering desire to escape periodically from the clutches of a mechanistic civilization. To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefiled panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society)

The preservation of a few samples of undeveloped territory is one of the most clamant issues before us today. Just a few more years of hesitation and the only trace of that wilderness which has exerted such a fundamental influence in molding American character will lie in the musty pages of pioneer books … To avoid this catastrophe demands immediate action. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society)

As society becomes more and more mechanized, it will be more and more difficult for many people to stand the nervous strain, the high pressure, and the drabness of their lives. To escape these abominations, constantly growing numbers will seek the primitive for the fines features of life. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society), from The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall, published originally in 1933, taken from the current edition published by University of Iowa Press, 2003

It seems distinctly an understatement to hold that each all-day visitor to the forest derives as much pleasure form it as he would derive from a 2-hour motion-picture show. I have estimated that in the United States approximately 250 million man-days a year are devoted to forest recreation. If the admission price to a movie averages 25 cents, this gives the annual American forest recreation a value of $62,500,000. This is the minimum that people probably would pay for the privilege of using the forest if the price were asked. The incidental fact that people have to pay for admission to the movies and do not usually have to pay for admission to the forests does not mean that the outdoor recreation is any less valuable. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society), from The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall, published originally in 1933, taken from the current edition published by University of Iowa Press, 2003

Although huge sums of money are involved in any basis of calculation, the most important values of forest recreation are not susceptible of measurement in monetary terms. They are concerned with such intangible considerations as inspiration, aesthetic enjoyment, and a gain in understanding. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society), from The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall, published originally in 1933, taken from the current edition published by University of Iowa Press, 2003

Finally, there are those whose chief purpose in visiting the forests is simply an escape from civilization. These people want to rest from the endless chain of mechanization and artificiality which bounds their lives. In the forest they temporarily abandon a routine to which they cannot become wholly reconciled, and return to that nature in which hundreds of generations of their ancestors were reared. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society), from The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall, published originally in 1933, taken from the current edition published by University of Iowa Press, 2003

Any one who has stood upon a lofty summit and gazed over an inchoate tangle of deep canyons and cragged mountains, of sunlit lakelets and black expanses of forest, has become aware of a certain giddy sensation that there are no distances, no measures, simply unrelated matter rising and falling without any analogy to the banal geometry of breadth, thickness, and height. – Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society), from The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall, published originally in 1933, taken from the current edition published by University of Iowa Press, 2003

A third peculiarity about the forest is that it exhibits a dynamic beauty. A Beethoven symphony or a poem of Shelley, a landscape by Corot or a Gothic cathedral, once it is finished becomes virtually static. But the wilderness is in constant flux. A seed germinates, and a stunted seedling battles for decades against the dense shade of the virgin forest. Then some ancient tree blows down and the long-suppressed plant suddenly enters into the full vigor of delayed youth, grows rapidly from sapling to maturity, declines into the conky senility of many centuries, dropping millions of seeds to start a new forest upon the rotting debris of its own ancestors, and eventually topples over to admit the sunlight which ripens another woodland generation. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society), from The People’s Forests by Robert Marshall, published originally in 1933, taken from the current edition published by University of Iowa Press, 2003

Many of our greatest American thinkers, men of the caliber of Thomas Jefferson, Henry Thoreau, Mark Twain, William James, and John Muir, have found the forest and effective stimulus to original thought. — Bob Marshall (co-founder of the Wilderness Society)

Wilderness: a beautiful word to describe a beautiful land. Wilderness though is a white man’s concept. To the Native people, the land was not wild. It was home. It provided shelter, clothed and fed them. And echoing through their souls was a song of the land. The singing isn’t as loud as it used to be. But you can still hear it in the wind….in the silence of the misty morning….in the drip of the water from the tip of a paddle. The song is still here if you know how to listen. – Bill Mason, Song Of the Paddle

On wilderness: I like being out here. I like looking around. Listening. Seeing how the wilderness fits together. It’s like a puzzle. When we go in and change things, it upsets the balance. And what a great puzzle our world is. It’s beautiful, powerful, and mysterious. – Becky Mason

Wilderness is a necessity … They will see what I meant in time. There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls. Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual. In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow. — John Muir (American naturalist and co-founder of the Sierra Club)

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. — John Muir (American naturalist and co-founder of the Sierra Club)

Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on? — Margaret (Mardy) Murie (Known as “Grandmother of the Conservation Movement,” wife of Olaus Murie)

The Wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned how to ask. — Nancy Newhall (conservationist writer and photography critic)

Appreciate it. Care for it. Never take it for granted. Allow yourself to hear the music, to feel the ancient rhythms.-  Sigurd Olson

Respect the land. It has intrinsic value that our spirits need. Don’t be afraid to fight for it. It’s worth the struggle. - Sigurd Olson

I think that here is so much of what a man seeks, here so much the answer of what he needs to give himself contentment that he should try and find more frequently ways of satisfying his need. Once he senses that feeling of utter familiarity, of complete attunement, then he has gone a long way toward counteracting the bleakness of civilized living. We are not so far removed as yet, but what we must satisfy often the urge to be alone, to be a part of our surroundings, of being at one with the earth and sky and water. Here is real satisfaction, here fulfillment of the constant hunger of men for the past and primitive. - Sigurd Olson

The struggle for spirit has replaced the physical, and in his evolution psychologically man’s greatest minds have become aware of the emptiness of material striving. The struggle has become a positive drive toward perfection, all in keeping with his final hope: realization of the kingdom of God within him. – Sigurd Olsen

Without love of the land, conservation lacks meaning or purpose, for only in a deep and inherent feeling for the land can there be dedication in preserving it. – Sigurd Olson

Urban man has thrown plans to the winds and is living a catch as catch can existence dominated by impermanence, speed, and fluidity of movement. He is divorcing himself from the earth, and in this divorcement he is losing contact with elemental and spiritual things, his sense of oneness with his environment, psychological and physiological needs for which he has been conditioned for a million years by an entirely different existence. - Sigurd Olson, “Our Need of Breathing Space,” at a Resources for the Future, Inc., forum, Washington, D.C., early 1958.

Important though such experience may be to physical welfare, its most valuable asset is without question in the realm of the spiritual….To countless thousands, wilderness has become a spiritual necessity. – Sigurd Olson, The Preservation of Wilderness, Living Wilderness, Autumn 1948

There have been countless campfires, each one different, but some so blended into their backgrounds that it is hard for them to emerge. But I have found that when I catch even a glimmer of their almost forgotten light in the eyes of some friend who has shared them with me, they begin to flame once more. Those old fires have strange and wonderful powers. Even their memories make life the adventure it was meant to be. – Sigurd Olson

Summer begins in June. It comes after the wild excitement of spring, the migration of birds, their mating and choosing of places to live and defend. It is a time of fullness and completion, the goal of all that has gone before….All living creatures gorge themselves and their young on the food that is at this season so rich and abundant. It is a time for building strength and storing energy for whatever may come. It is also a time of joy. – Sigurd Olson

The highest use is the effect these lands have on the spiritual well being of our people. – Sigurd Olson,”The Conservation Challenge,” address to the Izaak Walton League of America, early 1959

Beauty is composed of many things and never stands alone. It is part of horizons, blue in the distance, great primeval silences, knowledge of all things of the earth… It is so fragile it can be destroyed by a sound or thought. It may be infinitesimally small or encompass the universe itself. It comes in a swift conception wherever nature has not been disturbed. — Sigurd F. Olson (naturalist author of The Singing Wilderness)

Simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness and one of its most valuable lessons. It is what we leave behind that is important. I think the matter of simplicity goes further than just food, equipment, and unnecessary gadgets; it goes into the matter of thoughts and objectives as well. When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost. — Sigurd F. Olson (naturalist author of The Singing Wilderness)

And so when we talk about intangible values remember that they cannot be separated from the others. The conservation of waters, forests, soils, and wildlife are all involved with the conservation of the human spirit. The goal we all strive toward is happiness, contentment, the dignity of the individual, and the good life. This goal will elude us forever if we forget the importance of the intangibles. – Sigurd Olson, Those Intangible Things, 1954

One of the approaches to enjoyment in the out of doors is the development of the adventurous view point, and this is something that we all can do. Roy Chapman Andrews said recently that we do not have to travel thousands of miles into the wilds of Tibet, that if we only develop the right attitude of mind we can find adventure right close to home. It is within our own capacities to make adventure of our own in many diverse fields. An adventure is something unusual happening to us, something that perhaps we have looked forward to for a long time and longed for. They do not necessarily have to be physical adventures, they can be spiritual as well, or both. The stamp collector, when he is on the lookout for a new stamp, experiences adventure when he finds a rarity; the bird lover, when he has been on the lookout for a long time for some particular species and finally finds it in some unexpected place, has an adventure. – Sigurd Olson, The Enjoyment Of The Outdoors, 1935

Another key to enjoyment of the out of doors is the developing of the feeling of at-homeness or familiarity with one’s country. I once had a friend who, when asked where we would camp at the end of a day always replied, “Anywhere I hang my hat is home to me,” and he meant it, for no matter where he happened to be he was soon comfortable and contented. Feeling at home with a country is much like feeling at home in a house. Country, like houses, must be lived in, and living much in a country means that we are investing it with associations, with memories and experiences that make it mean more to us. For after all, it is the personal association that makes country mean something to you. – Sigurd Olson, The Enjoyment Of The Outdoors, 1935

One who learns the past human history of a country sees with different eyes. One who has developed the feeling of familiarity and at-home-ness with a country through the growth of memories filled with personal associations and experiences, and one who in addition to these two has also developed the adventurous attitude of mind, who has done with the prosaic, will enjoy the out of doors far more than the one who goes just to bring home game or [get] exercise. He has the secret of happiness, he has the key to the philosophy of the ancients. He can see eye to eye with the Ruskin who said that the greatest achievement of man is to see. – Sigurd Olson, The Enjoyment Of The Outdoors, 1935

How often we speak of the great silences of the wilderness and of the importance of preserving them and the wonder and peace to be found there. When I think of them, I see the lakes and rivers of the North, the muskegs and expenses of tundra, the barren lands beyond all roads. I see the mountain ranges of the West and the high, rolling ridges of the Appalacians. I picture the deserts of the Southwest and their brilliant panoramas of color, the impenetrable swamp lands of the South. They will always be there and their beauty may not change, but should their silences be broken, they will never be the same. — Sigurd F. Olson (naturalist author of The Singing Wilderness)

Awareness is becoming acquainted with the environments, no matter where one happens to be. Man does not suddenly become aware or infused with wonder; it is something we are born with. No child need be told its secrets; he keeps it until the influence of gadgetry and the indifference of teen-age satiation extinguish its intuitive joy. — Sigurd F. Olson (naturalist author of The Singing Wilderness)

When late in life, one sits under a tree and contemplates the glory of a natural scene, there are fewer besetting apprehensions that one is wasting time; lack of time, then is grimly recognized as the greatest poverty; every moment gleaned for leisure is realized as a splendid, priceless investment. If only this could be perceived earlier, how much greater would be the value of life’s time. - Calvin Rutstrum,  The Wilderness Life

The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life. — Ellen Burns Sherman

We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as “wild.” Only to the white man was nature a “wilderness” and only to him was the land “infested” with “wild” animals and “savage” people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it “wild” for us. When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was that for us the “Wild West” began. — Luther Standing Bear (Native American author)

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope. — Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist), 1960, from a letter written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. — Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist), 1960, from the Wilderness Letter, written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, 1960

How much wilderness do the wilderness-lovers want? ask those who would mine and dig and cut and dam in such sanctuary spots as these. The answer is easy: Enough so that there will be in the years ahead a little relief, a little quiet, a little relaxation, for any of our increasing millions who need and want it. — Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist), 1955, from This Is Dinosaur

We are the most dangerous species of life on the planet, and every other species, even the earth itself, has cause to fear our power to exterminate. But we are also the only species which, when it chooses to do so, we’ll go to great effort to save what it might destroy. — Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist)

I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam, smooth to green glass over sunken rocks, shattering to foam again…

It was a prayer and comforting to wake in late and hear the undiminished shouting of the water in the night. And at sunup it was still there, powerful and incessant, with the slant sun tangled in its rainbow spray, the grass blue with the wetness, and the air heady as ether and scented with campfire smolder.

By such a river it is impossible to believe that one will ever be tired or old. Every sense applauds it. Taste it, feel its chill on the teeth: it is purity absolute. Watch its racing current, its steady renewal of force: it is transient and eternal. And listen again to its sounds: get far enough away so that the noise of falling tons of water does not stun the ears, and hear how much is going on underneath — a whole symphony of smaller sounds, hiss and splash and gurgle, the small talk of side channels, the whisper of blown and scattered spray gathering itself and beginning to flow again, secret and irresistible, among the wet rocks. – Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist)

In wildness is the preservation of the world. – Henry David Thoreau

We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. – Henry David Thoreau

A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. — Wilderness Act of 1964

If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate. — Terry Tempest Williams (American nature writer)

The canoe carried aboriginal people for thousands of years, followed then by the explorers and the missionaries and the engineers and the surveyors….until in modern times it gives us the gift of freedom. The canoe is a vehicle that carries you into pretty exciting places, not only into whitewater but into the byways and off-beaten places….You are removed entirely from the mundane aspects of ordinary life. You’re witnessing first hand beauty and peace and freedom – especially freedom….Flirtation with the wilderness is contact with truth, because the truth is in nature….I like to identify myself with something that is stable and enduring. Although [nature] is in a state of flux, it is enduring. It is where reality is. I appreciate the canoe for its gifts in that direction. - Kirk Wipper, from CBC Radio’s  Ideas program The Perfect Machine: The Canoe.

You have to do what you can, do your best with what you are. And you have to believe in wilderness. If you do that you can’t go wrong. –  Kirk Albert Walter Wipper b Grahamdale, Manitoba, December 6th, 1923 d Peterborough, Ontario, March 18, 2011

I believe that at least in the present phase of our civilization we have a profound, a fundamental need for areas of wilderness – a need that is not only recreational and spiritual but also educational and scientific, and withal essential to a true understanding of ourselves, our culture, own own natures, and our place in all nature.

This need is for areas of the earth within which we stand without our mechanisms that make us immediate masters over our environment – areas of wild nature in which we sense ourselves to be, what in fact I believe we are, dependent members of an interdependent community of living creatures that together derive their existence from the Sun.

By very definition this wilderness is a need. The idea of wilderness as an area without man’s influence is man’s own concept. Its values are human values. Its preservation is a purpose that arises out of man’s own sense of his fundamental needs. – Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from The Need for Wilderness Areas

It is not long since man thought of himself as the center of the universe, thought even of the Sun – the very source of all our life – as a light by day revolving about the Earth. As our new understanding has come – through science – science also has brought us many other new and wonderful discoveries, and the new knowledge of what we are has been overlooked by many of us in our eagerness for the new knowledge of what we can do. We have become as proud over what we can do as ever our ancestors could have been over themselves as the center of the universe.

We deeply need the humility to know ourselves as the dependent members of a great community of life, and this can indeed be one of the spiritual benefits of a wilderness experience. Without the gagets, the inventions, the contrivances whereby men have seemed to establish among themselves an independence of nature, without these distractions, to know the wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognize one’s littleness, to sense dependence and interdependence, indebtedness, and responsibility.

Perhaps, indeed, this is the distinctive ministration of wilderness to modern man, the characteristic effect of an area which we most deeply need to provide for in our preservation programs. — Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from The Need for Wilderness Areas

The wilderness that has come to us from the eternity of the past we have the boldness to project into the eternity of the future. – Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from The Need for Wilderness Areas

We are part of the wilderness of the universe. Some of us think we see this so clearly that for ourselves, for our childres, our continuing posterity, and our fellow men we covet with a consuming intensity the fullness of human development that keeps its contact with wildness. – Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from How Much Can We Afford to Lose?, in Wildlands in Our Civilization (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1964): 51. This address was also printed in the Sierra Club Bulletin (April 1951)

Let’s try to be done with a wilderness preservation program made up of a sequence of overlapping emergencies, threats and defense campaigns! Let’s make a conserted effort for a positive program that will establish an enduring system of areas where we can be at peace and not forever feel that the wilderness is a battleground. — Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from How Much Can We Afford to Lose?, in Wildlands in Our Civilization (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1964): 51. This address was also printed in the Sierra Club Bulletin (April 1951)

Working to preserve in perpetuity is a great inspiration.

We are not fighting a rear-guard action, we are facing a frontier.

We are not slowing down a force that inevitably will destroy all the wilderness there is. We are generating another force, never to be wholly spent, that, renewed generation after generation, will be always effective in preserving wilderness.

We are not fighting progress. We are making it.

We are not dealing with a vanishing wilderness.

We are working for a wilderness forever. — Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from Wilderness Forever, version in William Schwartz, editor, Voices for the Wilderness (New York: Ballantine Books, 1969): 106

With the enactment of this measure we shall cease to be in any sense a rearguard delaying ‘inevitable’ destruction of all wilderness, but shall become a new vanguard with reasonable hopes that some areas of wilderness will be preserved in perpetuity. — Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act), from testimony in 1963 to the U.S. Senate

I believe we have a profound fundamental need for areas of the earth where we stand without our mechanisms that make us immediate masters over our environment. — Howard Zahniser (author of the Wilderness Act)

Paddles up until later then….and celebrate our wilderness….and our need for it.

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. - Aldo Leopold

…perhaps our grandsons, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters…glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. - Aldo Leopold

The good life on any river may… depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. – Aldo Leopold

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. – Aldo Leopold

Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. – Aldo Leopold

Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. – Aldo Leopold

In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them. – Aldo Leopold

Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers. – Aldo Leopold

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring. – Aldo Leopold

Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind. – Aldo Leopold

To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. – Aldo Leopold

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold

We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive. – Aldo Leopold

Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend. You cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say you cannot have game and hate predators. The land is one organism. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow… the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness, then, assumes unexpected importance as a laboratory for the study of land – health. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is a continuous stretch of county preserved in its natural state, open to lawful hunting and fishing, big enough to absorb a two weeks’ pack trip, and kept devoid of roads, artificial trails, cottages, or other works of man. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map? — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management), 1949, from A Sand County Almanac

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management), 1949, from A Sand County Almanac

Ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility. The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in part, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. And ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

I have written on occasion about environmental concerns….quoted the words of such environmentalists as Sigurd Olson, Henry David Thoreau, David Suzuki, John Muir and others….including those of Aldo Leopold….as noted in the quotes above Aldo Leopold was an American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, and considered to be father of American wildlife management….recently I found an online resource, Excerpts From The Works Of Aldo Leopold, which includes the following biographic sketch:

Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, onJanuary 11, 1887. As a boy he developed a lively interest in field ornithology and natural history, and after schooling in Burlington, at Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey, and the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, he enrolled in the Yale forestry school, the first graduate school of forestry in the United States. Graduating with a Masters in 1909, he joined the U.S Forest Service, by 1912 was supervisor of the million-acre Carson National Forest, and in 1924 accepted the position of Associate Director of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, the principal research institution of the Forest Service at that time. In 1933 he was appointed to the newly created chair in Game Management at the University of Wisconsin, a position he held until his death.

Leopold was throughout his life at the forefront of the conservation movement—indeed, he is widely acknowledged as the father of wildlife conservation in America. Though perhaps best known for A Sandy County Almanac, he was also an internationally respected scientist, authored the classic text Game Management, which is still in use today, wrote over 350 articles, most on scientific and policy matters, and was an advisor on conservation to the United Nations. He died of a heart attack on April 21, 1948 while helping his neighbors fight a grass fire. He has subsequently been named to the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame, and in 1978, the John Burroughs Memorial Association awarded him the John Burroughs Medal for his lifework and, in particular, for A Sand County Almanac. - Leopold, Aldo:A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, pp. 227-228.

His words echo as true today as they ever did….here are a selection of quotes from Excerpts From The Works Of Aldo Leopold:

Acts of Creation

Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a good shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree—and there will be one.

If his back be strong and his shovel sharp, there may eventually be ten thousand. And in the seventh year he may lean upon his shovel, and look upon his trees, and find them good.

God passed on his handiwork as early as the seventh day, but I notice He has since been rather noncommittal about its merits. I gather either that He spoke too soon, or that trees stand more looking upon than do fig leaves and firmaments. - Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, pg. 81.

Conservation

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. Its parts, like our own parts, compete with each other and co-operate with each other. The competitions are as much a part of the inner workings as the co-operations. You can regulate them—cautiously—but not abolish them.

The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. - Leopold, Aldo: Round RiverOxford University Press, New York, 1993, pp. 145-146.

Conservation and Living from the Land

Why is it that conservation is so rarely practiced by those who must extract a living from the land? It is said to boil down, in the last analysis, to economic obstacles. Take forestry as an example: the lumberman says he will crop his timber when stumpage values rise high enough, and when wood substitutes quit underselling him. He said this decades ago. In the interim, stumpage values have gone down, not up; substitutes have increased, not decreased.Forest devastation goes on as before. I admit the reality of this predicament. I suspect that the forces inherent in unguided economic evolution are not all beneficent. Like the forces inside our own bodies, they may become malignant, pathogenic. I believe that many of the economic forces inside the modern body-politic are pathogenic in respect to harmony with land. - Leopold, Aldo: Round RiverOxford University Press, New York, 1993, pg. 153.

Profit Motive

When one considers the prodigious achievements of the profit motive in wrecking land, one hesitates to reject it as a vehicle for restoring land. I incline to believe we have overestimated the scope of the profit motive. Is it profitable for the individual to build a beautiful home? To give his children a higher education? No, it is seldom profitable, yet we do both. These are, in fact, ethical and aesthetic premises which underlie the economic system. Once accepted, economic forces tend to align the smaller details of social organization into harmony with them.

No such ethical and aesthetic premise yet exists for the condition of the land these children must live in. Our children are our signature to the roster of history; our land is merely the place our money was made. There is as yet no social stigma in the possession of a gullied farm, a wrecked forest, or a polluted stream, provided the dividends suffice to send the youngsters to college. Whatever ails the land, the government will fix it. - Leopold, Aldo: Round RiverOxfordUniversity Press, New York, 1993, pp. 156-157.

Industry vs. Wilderness

For unnumbered centuries of human history the wilderness has given way. The priority of industry has become dogma. Are we as yet sufficiently enlightened to realize that we must now challenge that dogma, or do without our wilderness? Do we realize that industry, which has been our good servant, might make a poor master? Let no man expect that one lone government bureau is able—even tho it be willing—to thrash out this question alone.

[....] Our remnants of wilderness will yield bigger values to the nation’s character and health than they will to its pocketbook, and to destroy them will be to admit that the latter are the only values that interest us. - Leopold, Aldo: A Plea for Wilderness Hunting Grounds, Outdoor Life, November 1925. Reproduced in Aldo Leopold’s Southwest, edited by David E. Brown & Neil B. Carmony, University of New Mexico Press, 1990, pg. 160-161.

What I found most interesting in re-reading these pearls of wisdom, was that we are still debating such things as mega quarries, cutting old growth forests, oil spills, tar sands and pipelines. Even years after observations by folks such as Aldo Leopold. Last week, there was a lively debate on radio about one such pipeline on CBC Radio: The Current – Wed. Sept. 28, 2011 – The Northern Gateway Pipeline:

Northern Gateway Pipeline

Canada may have one of the largest oil reserves in the world but it is has never exported oil outside North America. The Gateway Pipeline Project would change that …moving oil from Alberta across B.C. to tankers on its northern coast to Asian markets that would pay more than the U.S. does. But that route travels along fragile ecosystems and right up against the wishes of many Native leaders. So would it be an Economic Opportunity or an Environmental Error?

This week on Parliament Hill more than one hundred people were arrested crossing police barricades at a protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline. That pipeline would transport bitumen from the oil sands in northern Alberta to refineries in Texas. And these days, it’s the one getting all the attention.

But there’s another Canadian pipeline proposal that advocates say is just as significant – and critics say is just as objectionable. Enbridge’s $5.5 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline project would extend almost 1,200 kilometres from the oil sands – to tankers waiting on BC’s northern coast. The oil would then sail to Asian markets.

At a conference last week, the President and CEO of HSBC Bank Canada Lindsay Gordon stressed the importance of those markets. Quoting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement that U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is a “no brainer,” Mr. Gordon said a pipeline to the West Coast is more important.

Our next guest certainly sees the Northern Gateway project as significant. Colin Kinsley is the former Mayor of Prince George, BC. He’s now the Chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, a group supporting the process that would give the Enbridge pipeline project the green light. Colin Kinsley is paid by Enbridge to head that volunteer group. He was in ourVancouver studio.

And Frank Wolf is an environmental documentary filmmaker who set out to determine how this pipeline would affect ecosystems and communities along its path. For his new film, On The Line, Frank Wolf walked, hiked, cycled and paddled 2,400 kilometres along the proposed pipeline route from the oil sands to Kitimat, on B.C.’s northern coast.

On The Line premieres October 6th at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

(NOTE: You can listen to the whole radio segment on the Northern Gateway Pipeline if you click onto to the “Listen” link on CBC Radio: The Current – Wed. Sept. 28, 2011 – The Northern Gateway Pipeline….a very lively discussion worth listening to.)

Words of wisdom from Aldo Leopold….as relevant today as when he first wrote them….more words of debate over an environmental concern….to build a pipeline through BC’s mountains….I hope everyone takes the time to check out more of Aldo Leopold’s writings….and listens to the ongoing debate over the Northern Gateway Pipeline….oil and water still don’t mix….and hopefully we’ll  learn one day (before it’s too late) from the wise sages of Mother Earth that spoke out about such ‘developments’….men such as Aldo Leopold….

Paddles up until later then….

I know now as men accept the time clock of the wilderness, their lives become entirely different.  It is one of the great compensations of primitive experience, and when one finally reaches the point where days are governed by daylight and dark, rather than by schedules, where one eats if hungry and sleeps when tired, and becomes completely immersed in the ancient rhythms, then one begins to live. - Sigurd Olson

I remember long trips in the wilderness when food and tobacco were running low, when the weather for a week or a month had been impossible, and the joy that coming back meant in the satisfaction of long-thwarted hunger and comfort. In the light of reflection, that was the real harvest, something to remember whenever the going gets tough.

And that, I believe, is one of the reasons why coming home from any sort of a primitive expedition is a real adventure. Security and routine are always welcome after knowing excitement and the unusual. We need contrast to make us know we are really alive. – Sigurd Olson, from Contrast

In travelling great rivers and lakes, there are times when islands fade, hills and headlands recede, the water merges with the sky in a distant mirage of shimmery blue. These are the open horizons of the far north.

If it is calm, the canoes drifting through reflections with nothing to break the vast silence but the hypnotic swish of paddles, there are moments when one seems suspended between heaven and earth. If it is stormy and the lakes alive, with whitecaps and blowing spume, each instant is full of battle and excitement. When, after hours and sometimes days, the misty outlines of the lake take form again, islands slowly emerge and float upon the surface, headlands become real, one passes through a door into the beyond itself and the mystery is no more.

Life is a series of open horizons, with one no sooner completed than another looms ahead. Some are traversed swiftly, while others extend so far into the future one cannot predict their end. Penetrations into the unknown, all give meaning to what has gone before, and courage for what is to come. More than physical features, they are horizons of mind and spirit, and when one looks backward, we find they have blended into the whole panorama of our lives. - Sigurd Olson, from Open Horizons, 1969.

I would paddle out swiftly onto the open lake if the moon was shining down its path. It never failed to come to me when going down that brilliant shining highway into space. Most completely of all would I be taken when lying on my back looking at the stars. The gentle motion of the canoe softly swaying, the sense of space and infinity given by the stars, gave me the sense of being suspended in the ether. My body had no weight, my soul was detached and I careened freely through a delightfullness of infinite distance…. Sometimes the night cry of the loon would enhance the illusion. For long periods I would lie, having lost track of time and location. A slap of a wavelet would jerk me back into the present and I would paddle back to the glowing coals of the deserted camp fire, trying to fathom the depths of the experience I had been through. - Sigurd Olson, in his Journal, Jan. 20, 1930

The sun was trembling now on the edge of the ridge. It was alive, almost fluid and pulsating, and as I watched it sink I thought that I could feel the earth turning from it, actually feel its rotation. Over all was the silence of the wilderness, that sense of oneness which comes only when there are no distracting sights or sounds, when we listen with inward ears and see with inward eyes, when we feel and are aware with our entire beings rather than our senses. I thought as I sat there of the ancient admonition “Be still and know that I am God,” and knew that without stillness there can be no knowing, without divorcement from outside influences man cannot know what spirit means. Sigurd Olson, The Singing Wilderness

The singing wilderness has to do with the calling of the loons….It is concerned with the simple joys, the timelessness and perspective found in a way of life that is close to the past. – Sigurd Olson

Yesterday I was helping to film a video centered around the work of my friend, Bruce Smith….his beautiful canoes and paddles. Part of the day was spent on the water in my favourite green canoe….the rest in Bruce’s workshop. During one of the breaks in shooting, we talked about some of the ongoing events in this crazy world….everything from the current Ontario election to the state of the world’s economy….the mega quarry planned near Shelburne in Dufferin County….the tar sands in Alberta….the Keystone pipeline….living off the grid….global warming….the empowerment of people….especially in the preservation of the environment and wilderness….

One thing I got out of these discussions….out of a day spent in a wood canvas canoe….or surrounded by hand crafted wood paddles….in a workshop in a century old barn….in Mennonite country….was the need so many of us have to return to simpler things. How even in hard times, we need to stay in touch with our ‘natural’ side.

During the Depression years, there was the Civilian Conservation Corps, described in Wikipedia: Civilian Conservation Corps as:

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments…..

This may have been a ‘make work project’ but the PBS show, American Experience: The Conservation Corps – Introduction describes the Civilian Conservation Corps as:

In March 1933, within weeks of his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress aimed at providing relief for unemployed American workers. He proposed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs in natural resource conservation. Over the next decade, the CCC put more than three million young men to work in the nation?s forests and parks, planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires, and maintaining roads and trails, conserving both private and federal land.

After a decade of national prosperity in the Roaring Twenties, Americans faced a national crisis after the Crash of 1929. The Great Depression saw an unemployment rate of more than twenty-five percent in the early 1930s. Inner-city crime rates soared, and the government did not have any specific plans to intervene. At the same time in theMidwest, the nine-year drought that would come to be known as the Dust Bowl was just beginning. Farmers struggled to hold on to their crops and their livestock as more precious topsoil blew away in windstorms every day.

The CCC was President Roosevelt’s answer to the environmental and economic challenges facing the country. Enlisting 250,000 workers in just two months, the CCC was an ambitious undertaking that brought several government agencies together in the effort. The Department of Labor recruited men from the ages of 18 to 25; the War Department clothed and trained them for two weeks, and the Department of Agriculture designed and managed the specific work assignments.

With projects in every U.S. state and territory, “Roosevelt’s Tree Army” lived in camps under quasi-military discipline, and received a wage of $30 per month, $25 of which they were required to send home to their families. Typically, boys rose early for breakfast in the canteen before heading off for eight hours of manual labor. Lunch was often brought out to the work site. In the evenings ninety percent of enrollees took advantage of classes offered in subjects from literature to welding — courses which, over nine years, taught 40,000 illiterate men to read and write.

After planting 3 billion trees in nine years of service, the CCC dissolved in July of 1942. As the economy began to improve in the late 1930s, young men found higher-paying jobs at home, and the number of CCC camps across the country dwindled. President Roosevelt’s attempt at turning it into a permanent agency failed. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and subsequent U.S. involvement in World War II, the CCC’s funding and assets were diverted as the nation’s focus shifted toward the war effort. The legacy of the CCC continues to live on in the hundreds of campgrounds, hiking trails and swimming holes still enjoyed by Americans today.

More to the point, the impact of the work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps, especially on the young men who were involved, is made in the following comments from the American Experience: The Conservation Corps – Program Transcript:

Harley Jolley, Joined the CCC in 1937: I remember the time growing up inNorth Carolina, looking up and watchingKansasblow by, the dustbowl reachingNorth Carolina, of course. I also remember fires, floods, drought, erosion, soil gone. What do you have to live on? We were in a sad condition environmentally. The word “environmental” wasn’t there at the time, basically, but the situation was. And it was a critical situation.

Harley Jolley, Joined the CCC in 1937: We had not taken care of our country. We had not taken care of our land. No basic scientific farming to speak of. Farm this, gut it and move on. Farm this, gut it and move— that’s what we did. We’re talking 150-plus years of no care, of very poor care.

I can remember playing in gullies two stories high. That was my playground. But it was a bad thing, because that meant all that erosion and that much good land gone. The soil erosion we were losing annually was enough to load a series of boxcars seven times around the earth. That’s a lot of dirt.

Part of it goes back to the big timber companies of the ’20s and ’30s, cutting and cutting and cutting, leaving slash. Slash would burn, storms would come, floods would come, and down the river goes our good fertile soil. The end result is it caught up with us, total impact, in 1930s, big, big, big-time impact with the resulting disaster.

Jonathan Alter, Writer: The CCC was a win-win for FDR. Both put hundreds of thousands, eventually millions of people to work. And he also did something for posterity, for future generations, for what we would now call the Environment.

Harley Jolley, Joined the CCC in 1937: It was a healing, heal the man, heal the land. Taking land that had been totally devastated, replanting it, rebuilding it. We’re talking about land improvement and conservation all across the country.

Harley Jolley, Joined the CCC in 1937: We got to see basically a change, not only in us, but also in the total environment, an improvement, not a deterioration, but a major improvement. No more looking up and watchingKansaspass by. No more looking and seeing the rivers flood. No more of the business of fires everywhere. But an environment that was pleasant to experience, providing an enjoyable change of pace from the city, come up and into the mountain country and see nature on all sides, have a picnic and enjoy the beauty of our country.

Vincente Ximenes, Joined the CCC in 1938: There are places that most people have no idea that the CCCs were the ones that built them.Camp David, for example, was built by the CCCs. Carlsbad Caverns, we’d built everything except the cave. And, when you look at all of the state parks and national parks that were built by the CCCs, then you can begin to see what happened to this nation as a whole. That changed the entire recreational patterns of this nation.

Jonathan Alter, Writer: If you go out on a hike, now, all over theUnited States, there’s a very good chance that the trail you’re hiking on was cut by the CCC. The first ski trails in theUnited States, inVermont, were also cut by the CCC. So a paralyzed President, who couldn’t walk, much less ski, indirectly launched the American ski industry.

Any agency of government that manages to plant 2.3 billion — with a “b” — trees to create 800 state parks, to save the topsoil of the United States, has to be considered one of the most pro-environmental organizations ever established.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (archival voice-over): We realize, now, that we committed excesses which we are, today, seeking to atone for. We used up, we destroyed much of our natural heritage, just because that heritage was so bountiful. We have prayed sincerely and honestly to look ahead to the future years. We are, at last, definitely engaged in the task of conserving the bounties of nature, thinking in the terms of the pull of nature.

Jonathan Alter, Writer: The CCC not only was a major foundation of our ethic of national service in this country, but also an ethic of conservation. After generations of Americans essentially raping the land for whatever it was worth economically, as happens in so many other parts of the world, suddenly there’s a break in that in the ’30s. And you have a pretty large chunk of a generation, three million people, who have some experience in conserving the land instead of exploiting the land, who care about what we leave behind.

Houston Pritchett, Joined the CCC in 1939: Recently, we went back to find the camp we was in. I went back up there and seen them trees, where they got them where you can’t cut them down. And my little granddaughter, she was telling them, “All these trees,” she said her grandpa planted all the trees up there. [laughs]

Jonathan Alter, Writer: Who were the people who pioneered the environmental movement in this country and who now are helping us to transition to more of a green ethic? Many of their parents and grandparents were in the CCC. An ethic of conservation is then born and developed and nurtured and built, because it’s all a generational conversation that takes place, that one thing builds on another, builds on another.

So even out of a ‘make work project’, out of adversity, came something good….and for many of the young men involved this was their first taste of getting to wild areas….to wilderness places….and for many it was a way ‘out’….even for some a way to heal….not only the land, but also themselves….

Then there was the back to the land movement….described by Wikipedia: Back To the Land Movement:

Regarding North America, many individuals and households have moved from urban or suburban circumstances to rural ones at different times; for instance, the economic theorist and land-based American experimenter Ralph Borsodi (author of Flight from the City) is said to have influenced thousands of urban-living people to try a modern homestanding life during the Great Depression.

There was again a fair degree of interest in moving to rural land after World War II. In 1947, Betty MacDonald published what became a popular book, The Egg and I, telling her story of marrying and then moving to a small farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. This story was the basis of a successful comedy film starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray.

The Canadian writer Farley Mowat says that many returned veterans after World War II sought a meaningful life far from the ignobility of modern warfare, regarding his own experience as typical of the pattern. In Canada, those who sought a life completely outside of the cities, suburbs, and towns frequently moved into semi-wilderness environs.

But what made the later phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s especially significant was that the rural-relocation trend was sizable enough that it was identified in the American demographic statistics.

Roots of this movement can perhaps be traced to some of Bradford Angier’s books, such as At Home in the Woods (1951) and We Like it Wild (1963), or perhaps even more compellingly to the 1954 publication of Helen and Scott Nearing’s book, Living the Good Life. This book chronicles the Nearings’ move to an older house in a rural area of Vermont and their self-sufficient and simple lifestyle. In their initial move, the Nearings were driven by the circumstances of the Great Depression and influenced by earlier writers, particularly Henry David Thoreau. Their book was published six years after A Sand County Almanac, by the ecologist and environmental activist Aldo Leopold, was published, in 1948. Influences aside, the Nearings had planned and worked hard, developing their homestead and life according to a twelve-point plan they had drafted.

The narrative of Phil Cousineau’s documentary film Ecological Design: Inventing the Future asserts that in the decades after World War II, “The world was forced to confront the dark shadow of science and industry… There was a clarion call for a return to a life of human scale.” By the late 1960s, many people had recognized that, living their city or suburban lives, they completely lacked any familiarity with such basics of life as food sources (for instance, what a potato plant looks like, or the act of milking a cow) — and they felt out of touch with nature, in general. While the back-to-the-land movement was not strictly part of the counterculture of the 1960s, the two movements had some overlap in participation.

Many people were attracted to getting more in touch with the basics just mentioned, but the movement was also fueled by the negatives of modern life: rampant consumerism, the failings of government and society, including the Vietnam War, and a perceived general urban deterioration, including a growing public concern about air and water pollution. Events such as the Watergate scandal and the 1973 energy crisis contributed to these views. Some people rejected the struggle and boredom of “moving up the company ladder.” Paralleling the desire for reconnection with nature was a desire to reconnect with physical work. Farmer and author Gene Logsdon expressed the aim aptly as: “the kind of independence that defines success in terms of how much food, clothing, shelter, and contentment I could produce for myself rather than how much I could buy.”

There was also a segment within the movement who already had a familiarity with rural life and farming, who already had skills, and who wanted land of their own on which they could demonstrate that organic farming could be made practical and economically successful.

Besides the Nearings and other authors writing later along similar lines, another influence from the world of American publishing was the unprecedented, vigorous, and intelligent Whole Earth Catalogs. Stewart Brand and a circle of friends and family began the effort in 1968, because Brand believed that there was a groundswell of biologists, designers, engineers, sociologists, organic farmers, and social experimenters who wished to transform civilization along lines that might be called “sustainable.” Brand and cohorts created a catalog of “tools” – defined broadly to include useful books, design aids, maps, gardening implements, carpentry and masonry tools, metalworking equipment, and a great deal more.

Another important publication was The Mother Earth News, a periodical (originally on newsprint) that was founded a couple years after the Catalog. Ultimately gaining a large circulation, the magazine was focused on how-to articles, personal stories of successful and budding homesteaders, interviews with key thinkers, and the like. The magazine stated its philosophy was based on returning to people a greater measure of control of their own lives.

Many of the North American back-to-the-landers of the 1960s and 1970s made use of the Mother Earth News, the Whole Earth Catalogs and derivative publications. But as time went on, the movement itself drew more people into it, more or less independently of impetus from the publishing world.

As noted many were influenced to go back to the land….to find a simpler life….often far from urban centres….by the likes of Henry David Thoreau or Aldo Leopold:

All good things are wild, and free - Henry David Thoreau

However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do want society. - Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life; living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartanlike as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness out of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience. – Henry David Thoreau

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves – Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. — Henry David Thoreau

This curious world we inhabit…is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used. - Henry David Thoreau

In wildness is the preservation of the world. – Henry David Thoreau

We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. – Henry David Thoreau

To preserve wild animals implies generally the creation of a forest for them to dwell in or resort to. — Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist), from Walking

When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and the most interminable, and to the citizen, most dismal swamp. I enter the swamp as a sacred place–a sanctum sanctorum.there is the strength, the marrow of Nature.— Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist)

Thank God, they cannot cut down the clouds! — Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist)

The birds I heard today, which, fortunately, did not, within the scope of mind science, sang as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation. — Henry David Thoreau (American writer and naturalist)

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. – Aldo Leopold

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. – Aldo Leopold

Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. – Aldo Leopold

Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. – Aldo Leopold

In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them. – Aldo Leopold

Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers. – Aldo Leopold

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring. – Aldo Leopold

Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind. – Aldo Leopold

To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. – Aldo Leopold

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold

We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive. – Aldo Leopold

Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend. You cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say you cannot have game and hate predators. The land is one organism. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow… the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness, then, assumes unexpected importance as a laboratory for the study of land – health. – Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness is a continuous stretch of county preserved in its natural state, open to lawful hunting and fishing, big enough to absorb a two weeks’ pack trip, and kept devoid of roads, artificial trails, cottages, or other works of man. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Man always kills the things he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map? — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management), 1949, from A Sand County Almanac

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management), 1949, from A Sand County Almanac

Ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility. The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in part, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. And ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Last week I watched a documentary, Requiem For Detroit, which described how the city ‘died’ with the collapse of the automotive industry in the USA that fueled its very existence….as described in the overview of the film:

Built by the car for the car, with its groundbreaking suburbs, freeways and shopping centres, it was the embodiment of the American dream. 

But is Detroit actually ‘dead’???? As Requiem For Detroit further describes:

Now it is truly a dystopic post-industrial city, in which 40 per cent of the land in the centre is returning to prairie. Greenery grows up through abandoned office blocks, houses and collapsing car plants, and swallows up street lights.

There is crime….deserted neighbourhoods….empty factories and other buildings….vacant houses, often just burnt out shells….huge poverty….and other signs of urban decay….and industrial collapse….

However there is hope:

Streets are being turned to art. Farming is coming back to the centre of the city. Young people are flocking to help. The burgeoning urban agricultural movement is the fastest growing movement in the US. Detroit leads the way again but in a very different direction. 

Is this a sign of the times???? An urban ‘back to the land’???? Definitely some points to ponder.

Recently we ‘celebrated’ the 10th anniversary of 911….that infamous day when the world watched in horror as buildings toppled….when the whole world seemed to stop….and definitely changed….against the backdrop of this, a remarkable trip was taken in the wilds of Alaska, outlined in an online journal entitled Alaska: A Trip Down The Kisaralik River. As described by Shipp Webb:

….an account of a twelve day trip my friend Norm and I took on the Kisaralik River in southwest Alaska, August 31-September 11, 2001.  We flew to Bethel, Alaska and then flew by “bush plane” to Lake Kisaralik where we camped for three nights.  We then floated in a rowed raft eighty-one river miles to a gravel bar in the Kuskokwim River Delta where we were met and transported by motorboat back to Bethel.  The events of September 11th stranded us in Alaska for six additional days.  We made a daily recording of each day’s events and I have condensed the transcript. 

It is an interesting account of a trip through Alaska wilderness….but what I found of great interest was the following comment from the Prologue of the account of this trip:

The broader question is why go to the wilderness at all?  Norm has made several trips to the desert southwest where he has looked at ancient ruins.  He has gone alone and has taken his high school-aged son.  I have done several trips in the Boundary Waters, alone and with my wife.  When I have returned from these trips, I have always been struck by how soft our lives are.  This may seem trite or simple; but it is true.  Even a day in the wilderness teaches you this.  Hardly anything comes instantly by pushing a button.  To move you have to walk or paddle.  To cook you gather wood or carefully burn your stove.  Your bed is not terribly soft; you don’t sit in a comfortable chair.  While wilderness living is not terribly comfortable, the paradox is that the attention to each moment brings an energy, even a happiness.  One returns invigorated, calmer and centered.  Sigurd Olson writes,

I know now as men accept the time clock of the wilderness, their lives become entirely different.  It is one of the great compensations of primitive experience, and when one finally reaches the point where days are governed by daylight and dark, rather than by schedules, where one eats if hungry and sleeps when tired, and becomes completely immersed in the ancient rhythms, then one begins to live.

So this is one thing: we went to live fully in each moment.

Another is to go back in time before Europeans trashed North America.  This is a time when there were only a few humans and much wildlife.  I feel that we have a deep genetic memory of these days.  After all, our ancestors survived these conditions; we carry their survival skills with us in some form.  We got in touch with this is several places: when we stalked caribou, when we saw hundreds of salmon circling in a deep pool, and when we looked out from a hill and saw completely unspoiled land in all directions to all horizons.  We saw a beaver pond that was completely clear; no sediment from farms washed into it.  The purity of wilderness land speaks to us, creates happiness in us, in ways that highways lined with malls and subdivisions full of similar houses do not.

A wilderness trip is also a test of your mettle, both physical and mental.  Can you climb that mountain?  Can you row hard enough to avoid that rock?  Can you pull the heavy raft up on shore high enough so that it does not float away in the night?  The mental test begins long before you leave.  Can you digest all the information you have: make the right travel plans and bring only essential equipment?  Once the trip begins the mental challenge continues: can you remember what is important (rowing technique, bear awareness, cooking and much more), can you find your location on the map, and can you make the right estimate of your travel time?

Ultimately wilderness travel is self-reliance, independent living.  We both realized this when our plane took off from the lake.  We were on our own.  If we had forgotten anything, it was too late.  If we had a question, we would have to answer it ourselves.  We both commented on this moment later; it was a very real thing.

On a personal level this trip was about raising our camping skills to a new level.  Neither or us had camped for this long before.  But it also solidified us as a team.  In Woodland Caribou P.P. we used two solo canoes.  So we were a loose team.  Here we were in the same raft and had to work as a team–one scouting ahead and the other steering.  We knew each other’s skills.  I tied the knots; Norm packed the raft.  This was not an isolated trip; it built on our other trips but it was greater than the others because more was required.

So after recapitulating the history of the human race, that is, living in the wilderness much as prehistoric man who more than survived and actually thrived, we returned to the modern world on September 11th to find violence that our distant ancestors would have recognized.  We were changed by those events; but we were changed more by our trip.  We encourage everyone who reads this to seize the day and go into the great silence, the great solitude.

How often do we take trips into wild places and return changed? For me, each and every time I travel somewhere that is wild and free, I can’t help but return ‘freer’….and I think this is true for all of us….even a couple of days on the busiest routes in Algonquin can clear our heads….from the daily stress and grind of life that most of us have to put up with….

In part this is a return to a simpler time….or at least a way to get closer to Mother Nature….even to our roots. A return to ‘basics’. Which for many may be just a paddle away. There is something about propelling oneself across the land, under one’s own power….sleeping out in a tent….carrying all you have in your pack….as others have pointed out:

The canoe is a vehicle that carries you into pretty exciting places, not only into whitewater but into the byways and off-beaten places….You are removed entirely from the mundane aspects of ordinary life. You’re witnessing first hand beauty and peace and freedom – especially freedom….Flirtation with the wilderness is contact with truth, because the truth is in nature….I like to identify myself with something that is stable and enduring. Although [nature] is in a state of flux, it is enduring. It is where reality is. I appreciate the canoe for its gifts in that direction. - Kirk Wipper, from CBC Radio’s  Ideas program The Perfect Machine: The Canoe.

It is certainly not my intention to convince everybody they should grab a canoe and take to the wilderness. We are all different, and our interests vary. That is how it should be. Some people are content to enjoy the land from the edge of the road or campground. Others are only happy when isolated from the synthetic world by many portages and miles of trackless wilderness. I used to think it was a major tragedy if anyone went through life never having owned a canoe. Now I believe it is just a minor tragedy. – Bill Mason, Path of the Paddle

Wilderness: a beautiful word to describe a beautiful land. Wilderness though is a white man’s concept. To the Native people, the land was not wild. It was home. It provided shelter, clothed and fed them. And echoing through their souls was a song of the land. The singing isn’t as loud as it used to be. But you can still hear it in the wind….in the silence of the misty morning….in the drip of the water from the tip of a paddle. The song is still here if you know how to listen. – Bill Mason, Song Of the Paddle

There’s probably some truth in the old argument that hordes of canoeists swarming around out here can also destroy wilderness. Ironically though the ultimate survival of wild places will depend on how well we are able to rediscover a sense of awe for the land….and how successful we are in passing this reverence along to our children. – Joyce Mason, Song of the Paddle

On wilderness: I like being out here. I like looking around. Listening. Seeing how the wilderness fits together. It’s like a puzzle. When we go in and change things, it upsets the balance. And what a great puzzle our world is. It’s beautiful, powerful, and mysterious. – Becky Mason

Becky Mason’s essay Reflections, which I felt was worth repeating:

I have often thought about the connections that paddlers experience when canoeing. Peace, reflection and wonder come to mind. I suppose it’s a desire to seek a form of quiet meditation. I find it natural to turn to paddling as a meditation point. I’m not sure that the canoe is the real catalyst for me though. It’s the natural environment that really elevates my awareness and feeling of heightened spiritually and belonging. For instance, I would not feel at one with my surroundings if I was paddling indoors in a chlorinated pool, where as I might feel totally different if I had hiked into a remote waterfall.

But canoeing is in my blood. I have found that it is not a separate entity in my life but part of my psyche and personal make up. My Dad, by example, showed me that this balance was possible. He was always so busy and active, working and going non-stop for months at a time. Nevertheless, he recognised that he really needed the quiet solitude of a wilderness journey to nourish his soul and rekindle his spirit.

As far back as I can remember, I have been spending a part of my summer canoeing and camping in the wilderness. These have been memorable and rewarding trips but equally important for me is the hour or two of paddling I can squeeze into the middle of a busy week. I like to jump in my canoe and head out with no real destination or purpose, just letting the wind and my whims lead me where they may. Upon returning to my desk and slogging through the pile of stuff that needs attending I enjoy thinking of the adventures I will be able to continue on my next paddle.

It’s fun to fantasize about paddling. To imagine exploring further that tiny trickle of a headwater, that slowly builds and turns into a lively river with rapids I dance in, and chutes and falls I portage around, and mirror-like pools I spin and play upon. However, nothing can substitute for the real thing. So I do get out there. And when I do, that feeling of being at one with the land and water and air slowly surrounds and envelops me, it feels very calming and Zen like. And I know that in my dreams and in my life I will eagerly continue on, going just a little further down that creek to see what is there and what new wonders the wilderness will have to teach me. – Becky Mason

May every dip of your paddle lead you towards a rediscovery of yourself, of your canoeing companions, of the wonders of nature, and of the unmatched physical and spiritual rapture made possible by the humble canoe - Pierre Elliott Trudeau, foreword to Path of the Paddle by Bill Mason, 1980

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you already a child of nature. Pierre Elliott Trudeau

I know a man whose school could never teach him patriotism, but who acquired that virtue when he felt in his bones the vastness of his land, and the greatness of those who founded it. - Pierre Elliott Trudeau (From Exhaustion and Fulfillment: The Ascetic in a Canoe, 1944; also cited in  Pierre Elliott Trudeau: Why He Paddled by Jamie Benidickson, pp. 54-59, from Kanawa, Fall 2001.)

Paddling a canoe is a source of enrichment and inner renewal.  Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Canoeing gets you back close to nature, using a method of travel that does not even call for roads or paths. You are following nature’s roads; you are choosing the road less travelled, as Robert Frost once wrote in another context, and that makes all the difference. You discover a sort of simplifying of your values, a distinction between those artificially created and those that are necessary to your spiritual and human development. Pierre Elliott Trudeau

I think a lot of people want to go back to basics sometimes, to get their bearings. For me a good way to do that is to get into nature by canoe – to take myself as far away as possible from everday life, from its complications and from the artificial wants created by civilization. Canoeing forces you to make a distinction between your needs and your wants. – Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Memoirs

A canoeing expedition….involves a starting point rather than a parting. Although it assumes the breaking of ties, its purpose is not to destroy the past, but to lay down a foundation for the future. From now on, every living act will be built on this step, which will serve as a base long after the return of the expedition….and until the next one. - Pierre Trudeau

The movement of a canoe is like a reed in the wind. Silence is part of it, and the sounds of lapping water, bird songs, and wind in the trees. It is part of the medium through which it floats, the sky, the water, the shores….There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past, and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions. When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known. – Sigurd Olson from  The Singing Wilderness

Such vivid awareness is swiftly lost today, but if it can be held into adulthood it enriches and colors all we do. How often in the wild country of the north I have been aware of the spirits of the voyageurs, the shadowy forms that once roamed the rivers and lakes. Often at night it seemed I could hear ghostly songs coming across the water, the rhythmic dip of paddles and the swish of great canoes as they went by. - Sigurd Olson

As a society and a individual you become very stale. No challenge. Out here, I know exactly what I’m about. You can’t fake your character out here. Wilderness actually will bite you back. You are who you are. It’s good for the body and good for the soul. I want to be that 80-year old guy sitting on the porch and saying “I remember when…” as opposed to saying “I wish I did…” – Kevin Callan from “This Is Canoeing” video.

After an extended solo adventure I think back to my fears. Amazingly enough, what unsettles me most is not the loneliness which at time creeps up, the moment when complete darkness blankets the campsite, or being challenged by foul weather. It is when the trip is over and I am driving away from my place of vision and have to prepare myself mentally for the jam-packed expressway, crowded with thousands of people. More than once, I have turned tail on one of the cut-offs, phoned home to let someone know of my altered plans and headed back into the wilds for an few extra days – alone and content. – Kevin Callan, Ways of the Wild

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. - A.A. Milne, Pooh’s Little Instruction Book

I’m sure there are many things I’ll never learn by traveling over the earth in a canoe. I’m just not sure any of them are worth much. - Douglas Woods, Paddle Whispers

I remember my very first canoe trip. I was terrified. We were venturing out into what seemed to be uncharted territory, perhaps never to be seen again. Every aspect of it was intimidating … but especially the idea that somehow our survival depended on us doing stuff and doing it together and doing it right. Of course, steadily, terror gave way to triumph, and I returned with an indescribable feeling of achievement.  Michael Eisner

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be! – Signature from online canoeing forum.

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. - Aldo Leopold

…perhaps our grandsons, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters…glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. - Aldo Leopold

Mind over matter, canoe over water. - Kevin Quischan

To canoe is to be moved. - Doug E. Bell

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing- absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. – K. Grahame –The Wind in the Willows

Why do we come to this place with its clouds of black flies and mosquitoes, the gravel road that rattles your bones, teeth and tires loose? Why do so many of us return year after year with the spring thaw? We migrate, not unlike other species, to the North, to the water, to the bush and shield rock country that makes up Northern Saskatchewan. We pack up our paddles and gear, strap our canoes on roofs- some of them nice, more of them dented aged jalopies- and instinctively make our way northbound on the CANAM highway.

People ask how I can stand the 13-hour, door to door drive to Missinipe. How do I explain a love for watching geography as it changes with each mile? How do I explain the burst of energy that I am infused with when I pass over the bridge in Prince Albert and the whole world changes from one of lush farmland to one of boreal forest with sneak peeks of lakes with their loons calling in the early evening? I don’t need to explain it to my dog for she wakes from her slumber to sniff at the windowsill. I open it for myself as much as I do for her, breathing in the scent of the Jackpines and fresh water. – Shannon Bond, Churchill River Canoe Blog

To travel alone is a risky business, especially into a wilderness; equally risky is to have dreams and not follow them. - Robert Perkins, Into the Great Solitude

We do not go into the green woods and crystal waters to rough it; we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home…. – Nessmuk, 1884

I went along to iron out the wrinkles in my soul. - Omond Solandt

Doing what you like is FREEDOM, liking what you do is HAPPINESS. -Unknown

Happiness is paddling a canoe on the river of life. – Unknown

Give me a good canoe, a pair of Jibway snowshoes, my beaver, my family and 10,000 square miles of wilderness and I am happy – Grey Owl

The feel of a canoe gunnel at the thigh, the splash of flying spray in the face, the rhythm of the snowshoe trail, the beckoning of far-off hills and valleys, the majesty of the tempest, the calm and silent presence of the trees that seem to muse and ponder in their silence; the trust and confidence of small living creatures, the company of simple men; these have been my inspiration and my guide. Without them I am nothing. – Grey Owl

When I first ventured to Temagami in the early spring of 1970, paddling solo in a fourteen-foot cedar-canvas canoe, with the snow falling and the ice still partially on the lake, I passed through a portal into another world – Grey Owl’s world – and I knew I had found my home. - Hap Wilson, Grey Owl and Me, p. 18

The thought of having to carry all your worldly possessions on your back has been cause to modify the quintessential Canadian adventure canoe trip in terms of how many portages will be encountered. Paddlers now have mutated their own aspirations of adventure by eliminating the “carry”-the fundamental and historical pith of the journey, and choose a route with the least amount of work involved. - from Grey Owl & Me by Hap Wilson

Canoeing more or less defines who I am. Patched boats in the backyard affirm soul truths. My home, Canada, is not an abstraction; it is kindred canoe spirits and a constellation of sun-alive, star-washed campsites, linked by rivers, lakes, and ornery portages; scapes of the heart, rekindled by sensations that linger long after the pain is gone. When I meet someone, I wonder what they would be like on a trip. - James Raffan

We need quiet places, and we need quiet ways to travel in them. We never quite realize how valuable they are until we’ve been paddling, camping, and fishing in them for a few days. Once cleansed of the residue of daily living, it’s possible to find what my son once called ‘a calm spot’ in your heart. It’s a good thing to find. – Jerry Dennis, From a Wooden Canoe

… and to any others who have felt the thrill of the back country and still long to explore what might lie just around the next bend. I know of no better way of doing just that, than having a fine canoe under one’s seat, a sleek paddle in one’s hand, a little bug dope in your pocket, and a harmonica near the top of your pack. — Book dedication from Kenai Canoe Trails by Daniel Quick

And the paddle, in  the water, is a long, lost friend.
There are times I’d like to wander down a river without end,
In a hull of flowing cedar, carved by knowing hands,
That sings of rushing water — the spirit of the land. 
Shield by Dave Hadfield

Firewood, smoke and oranges, path of old canoe;
I would course the inland ocean to be back to you;
No matter where I go to, it’s always home again;
To the rugged northern shore, and the days of sun and wind;
And the land of the silver birch, cry of the loon;
There’s something ’bout this country, that’s a part of me and you. – 
from ‘Woodsmoke and Oranges’ by Ian Tamblyn.

The canoe is the most practical, efficient and satisfying way to travel through wild country, particularly on the Canadian Shield, where you can go almost anywhere. I think of that country every day of my life. One of the things I like best about canoe travel is that you are completely self-reliant. There is no dependence on mechanical devices. It is utterly simple. For me, the canoe means complete freedom – the ultimate escape. - Alex Hall

I have always had a desire to explore out-of-way places. Together, the canoe and this country’s many waterways provide the ideal combination. When travelling by canoe you seem to blend in rather than being an intrusion on your surroundings. – John B. Hughes

Ultimately, a paddling trip simplifies life. – Wendy Grater

Canoeing is the best way to become intimate with the land. You can cover so much more territory in a canoe. You don’t need to concentrate on your feet, thereby allowing your eyes to soak up the landscape around you. Travel by canoe is more about the journey than the destination. – Rolf Kraiker

Today, most Canadian canoeing is recreational. Many of us would assert that it is usually meaningful, aesthetically fulfilling and ecologically sensitive recreational canoeing. Admittedly, these modifiers are not present in the highly competitive, highly structured and technically oriented canoe racing sports which tend not to take place in a wilderness environment. But with these large exceptions, canoeing, certainly canoe tripping and lake water canoe cruising, tends to involve in varying degrees a quest for wilderness or at least semi-wilderness. It also involves a search for high adventure or natural tranquility or both. These activities are an integral part of Canadian culture. Bill Mason asserts that the canoe is “the most beautiful work of human beings, the most functional yet aesthetically pleasing object ever created,” and that paddling a canoe is “an art” not a technical achievement. That certainly means culture. - Bruce Hodgins, from Canexus, p.46

It’s pretty hard for me to go more than a few days without getting a paddle wet somewhere. For me, that stepping into the canoe and pushing off is a very special spiritual and physical experience. Bill Mason had it right: it’s like walking on water. It transports you to another way of being, another way of feeling – it restores my soul. – David Finch

I like to encourage people to paddle because it gives them a different way to experience the river, the landscape and…life. – David Finch

It is such a great way to take in a wide range of experiences. When we paddle, the experience of place moves from the brain to the heart, making it a life-forming experience. – Kevin Redmond

Nothing like paddling a canoe to restore the spirit and reconnect with this gorgeous planet that sustains us. - Dalton McGuinty, Ontario premier in twitter to Badger Paddles folks.

A canoe is a very good way to get close to nature. While it is possible to make a canoe go pretty fast, it is the thrill of slowing down that appeals to most canoeists. Even when canoes do go fast, when they rocket rapidly through whitewater, they are still canoes. Still close to nature and its environs. It is not the canoe that provides the power, it is the water. The canoe rides the water and its occupants humbly steer.

In a canoe you can’t help but feel the body of the country, notice the shape of islands or hills, hear the cries of birds and the sound of the wind, yet still respond fervently to the hundreds of small things that make up the world about you. Take a canoe onto a lake at night and enjoy what it can do, acting as a launching pad to distant worlds, opening up a vista of stars in the sky. The canoe seems to float up to these very stars and far away planets, as the night sky becomes one with the dark silent waters, twinking stars reflected in murky depths until water and sky all seem to blend together in one great expanse.

Canoes can sneak up on loons or beavers or herons, even a mighty moose, silently getting you closer than you can imagine. The canoe becomes part of its surroundings, becoming part of the natural world, and so completely that even once discovered it doesn’t scare such creatures. The canoe is just part of their world, accepted as always being there. It might be that the canoe has been such a familiar sight for so long, for so many years in the north country. In no particular hurry, the loon or the beaver slip quietly under the water if at all bothered by any such intrusion. Usually the moose will just stand there, holding its ground, patiently out waiting the canoe and its paddlers, unless it tires and lumbers off to the safety of the nearby bush.  The heron takes flight with its dignity intact, probably thinking: “It’s only a canoe, but I’ll just move away a bit anyway.” – Mike Ormsby

If I get out and paddle my canoe, I feel freedom. That much I’ve stated here before. But freedom from what????? Certainly freedom from stress. Possibly freedom of expression in that I am able to express myself in a way that is definitely free….not only in cost, but in freedom of spirit and emotion. Canoeing is physically freeing too.

Something about gliding on water….going with the flow….having a way to get into spots on the water that no other water craft can so easily….sometimes just drifting along….others moving with purpose and direction (such as when paddling from point A to point B and even in a certain time frame). But no matter how you travel in a canoe, there is part of you that just naturally slows down….finds a natural “groove” at least….a rhythm….and as has been pointed out often (here and otherwise), eventually you become one with your canoe. It might take some practice….learning how to paddle your canoe efficiently and properly….but with time, you do become in “sync” with your canoe….just as it becomes one with the surroundings….blending in so to speak.

So that’s part of this freedom….travelling under your own power in a water craft….that is so well suited to such travel. And you don’t even need music to make your canoe dance. Maybe just the song of your paddle. But the harmony that you and your canoe can form is truly beautiful music. If you’re fortunate enough to become as proficient as a Becky Mason or Karen Knight, your paddling seems almost effortless….too easy in fact. But even for those of us without such skill, we can still paddle our own canoe very freely….still find a way to free ourselves….just being on the water is a way to feel free.

I believe we have an inherent part of us that is in tune with water….the human body is largely water….so we are all part water….and consequently, water is part of us….add in a canoe that is so well suited to being on the water, being part of the water, and you have an interesting equation….and there is a very real “flow” to it. Maybe something as simple as:

YOU + CANOE + WATER = FREEDOM

I’ve expounded on this freedom before….and not wanting to repeat myself too often either (no matter how “senior” I may be LOL LOL)….but I thought of the freedom I’ve found while canoeing. I felt it was important to bring up again….time to get out on the water….and free my mind….and free myself from this computer and this desk.

Paddles up until later then. – Mike Ormsby

It not just about the trail one travels, as much as how one gets there….just as life is not so much about the destination as the journey….even with the portages LOL LOL. And when one gets to travel by canoe through wilderness, then one reconnects with the land….with the water….with the rocks and trees….with the whole environment….and maybe also with one’s self.

Paddles up until later then….and remember that life is not about its destination, but its journey….the journey might be tough, long and winding….but it’s sure worth the walk….or the paddle at least LOL LOL. – Mike Ormsby

Easing the canoe from its resting place on the shore
Silently launching into the still water of a cool morning
The first stroke of the paddle gracefully slicing through the liquid surface
You and the canoe forming almost a ghostly figure
In the early morning mist rising above the rocks, trees and water

The sound of the water makes as it drips off the end of the paddle
Yet nearly all is complete quiet and silence
As stealth-like as an owl on wing  you travel along the shore
The rhythm of the strokes as one with the rhythm of Mother Nature
You become one with your surroundings

As you glide across a watery wonderland
A beaver slaps its tail as a warning of your presence
The morning stillness is interrupted by the call of a loon as the day awakes
A red squirrel scolds you from an overhead pine branch
A moose munches on aquatic vegetative delicacies in a quiet secluded bay

The morning mist now long melted away in the glow of the sun
You easily send your canoe forward with each stroke
Now and then feathering your paddle to rest
And take in all that abounds along the lake
Peace and serenity, the exhilaration of being out on the water

But there is much going on along these shores
Turtles basking in the sunlight slide off a log as you approach
Slow paced almost statue like, a great blue heron stalks dinner (or is it lunch)
But still you lose track of time as you drift along
Forgetting cares and woes, finding strength in each paddle stroke

As you near the far shore’s portage, you feel fresh, ready to carry the canoe
Over the short yet rocky trail into the next small but distant lake
Perhaps even to a welcoming campsite under the pines
Settling down for the night under sparkling stars
Maybe even catching glimpse of a shooting star or the Northern Lights

The cedar and canvas canoe rolls up onto your shoulders
Not too much weight, a bit more than you remember from last year
Just enough to let you know you’re still alive
You double the carry over so you don’t overdo it
Or maybe it’s just to take more time to see where you’re at

As you rest by a waterfall beside the path, you reflect on the day….on what lies ahead
Still a few hours left before the sun sets….should be a full moon tonight
Maybe you’ll hear the howl of a wolf…. the echo of a loon from a nearby lake
You feel good….at ease….at home….and far from being alone
The canoe and you have journeyed far…and still have farther yet to go

For each trip takes you away from the daily grind
With each paddle stroke, there is definitely a greater peace of mind
So you pick up your pack, walking the last of the portage
Upon arrival, you launch the canoe onto the shining waters
You and the canoe dance on into the remaining daylight
 – Mike Ormsby

Paddles up until later then….maybe we can’t actually move back to the land….maybe we aren’t able to live off the grid….but each of us can do a little something to get back to ‘basics’….to touch Mother Earth….even if just going on a canoe trip.

Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. Henry David Thoreau

Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing. – Henry David Thoreau

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures
the depth of his own nature.
 - Henry David Thoreau, from the chapter “The Ponds” in Walden

It is wonderful how well watered this country is…. Generally, you may go any direction in a canoe, by making frequent but not very long portages. - Henry David Thoreau

Water reflects not only clouds and trees and cliffs, but all the infinite variations of mind and spirit we bring to it. – Sigurd Olson

The movement of a canoe is like a reed in the wind. Silence is part of it, and the sounds of lapping water, bird songs, and wind in the trees. It is part of the medium through which it floats, the sky, the water, the shores….There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past, and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions. When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known. – Sigurd Olson from  The Singing Wilderness

My two old canoes are works of art, embodying the feeling of all canoemen for rivers and lakes and the wild country they were meant to traverse. They were made in the old tradition when there was time and the love of the work itself. I have two canvas-covered canoes, both old and beautifully made. They came from the Penobscot River in Maine long ago, and I treasure them for the tradition of craftsmanship in their construction, a pride not only of form and line but of everything that went into their building. When l look at modern canoes, of metal or fiberglass stamped out like so many identical coins. l cherish mine even more …Sixteen feet in length, it has graceful lines with a tumble home or curve from the gunwales inward …No other canoe I’ve ever used paddles as easily … The gunwales and decks are of mahogany, the ribs and planking of carefully selected spruce and cedar… - Sigurd Olson, Tradition

Such vivid awareness is swiftly lost today, but if it can be held into adulthood it enriches and colors all we do. How often in the wild country of the north I have been aware of the spirits of the voyageurs, the shadowy forms that once roamed the rivers and lakes. Often at night it seemed I could hear ghostly songs coming across the water, the rhythmic dip of paddles and the swish of great canoes as they went by. - Sigurd Olson

As long as there are young men with the light of adventure in their eyes or a touch of wildness in their souls, rapids will be run. – Sigurd F. Olson (Naturalist author of The Singing Wilderness)

The mist was all gone from the river now and the rapids sparkled and sang. They were still young as the land was young. We were there to enjoy it, and the great machines seemed far away. – Sigurd F. Olson (Naturalist author of The Singing Wilderness)

I remember long trips in the wilderness when food and tobacco were running low, when the weather for a week or a month had been impossible, and the joy that coming back meant in the satisfaction of long-thwarted hunger and comfort. In the light of reflection, that was the real harvest, something to remember whenever the going gets tough.

And that, I believe, is one of the reasons why coming home from any sort of a primitive expedition is a real adventure. Security and routine are always welcome after knowing excitement and the unusual. We need contrast to make us know we are really alive. – Sigurd Olson, from Contrast

In travelling great rivers and lakes, there are times when islands fade, hills and headlands recede, the water merges with the sky in a distant mirage of shimmery blue. These are the open horizons of the far north.

If it is calm, the canoes drifting through reflections with nothing to break the vast silence but the hypnotic swish of paddles, there are moments when one seems suspended between heaven and earth. If it is stormy and the lakes alive, with whitecaps and blowing spume, each instant is full of battle and excitement. When, after hours and sometimes days, the misty outlines of the lake take form again, islands slowly emerge and float upon the surface, headlands become real, one passes through a door into the beyond itself and the mystery is no more.

Life is a series of open horizons, with one no sooner completed than another looms ahead. Some are traversed swiftly, while others extend so far into the future one cannot predict their end. Penetrations into the unknown, all give meaning to what has gone before, and courage for what is to come. More than physical features, they are horizons of mind and spirit, and when one looks backward, we find they have blended into the whole panorama of our lives. - Sigurd Olson, from Open Horizons, 1969.

I can still see so many of the lakes (whose shores and hills are forever changed after the storm): Saganaga, Red Rock, Alpine, Knife, Kekekabic, Eddy, Ogishkemunicie, Agamok, Gabimichigami, Sea Gull. It seems like yesterday… the early-morning bear on Brant Lake, that long portage from Hanson Lake to the South Arm of the Knife, that perfect campsite on Jasper Lake…. – Sigurd Olson

The canoe was drifting off the islands, and the time had come for the calling, that moment of magic in the north when all is quiet and the water still iridescent with the fading glow of sunset. Even the shores seemed hushed and waiting for the first lone call, and when it came, a single long-drawn mournful note, the quiet was deeper than before. - Sigurd Olson, The Singing Wilderness

I would paddle out swiftly onto the open lake if the moon was shining down its path. It never failed to come to me when going down that brilliant shining highway into space. Most completely of all would I be taken when lying on my back looking at the stars. The gentle motion of the canoe softly swaying, the sense of space and infinity given by the stars, gave me the sense of being suspended in the ether. My body had no weight, my soul was detached and I careened freely through a delightfullness of infinite distance…. Sometimes the night cry of the loon would enhance the illusion. For long periods I would lie, having lost track of time and location. A slap of a wavelet would jerk me back into the present and I would paddle back to the glowing coals of the deserted camp fire, trying to fathom the depths of the experience I had been through. - Sigurd Olson, in his Journal, Jan. 20, 1930

The sun was trembling now on the edge of the ridge. It was alive, almost fluid and pulsating, and as I watched it sink I thought that I could feel the earth turning from it, actually feel its rotation. Over all was the silence of the wilderness, that sense of oneness which comes only when there are no distracting sights or sounds, when we listen with inward ears and see with inward eyes, when we feel and are aware with our entire beings rather than our senses. I thought as I sat there of the ancient admonition “Be still and know that I am God,” and knew that without stillness there can be no knowing, without divorcement from outside influences man cannot know what spirit means. Sigurd Olson, The Singing Wilderness

The singing wilderness has to do with the calling of the loons….It is concerned with the simple joys, the timelessness and perspective found in a way of life that is close to the past. – Sigurd Olson

Wilderness areas are first of all a series of sanctuaries for the primitive arts of wilderness travel, especially canoeing and packing. - Aldo Leopold

…perhaps our grandsons, having never seen a wild river, will never miss the chance to set a canoe in singing waters…glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. - Aldo Leopold

The good life on any river may… depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive. — Aldo Leopold (American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist, considered to be father of American wildlife management)

Tomorrow is July 4th….Independence Day….the celebration of the United States becoming a nation….so what about canoeing in the United States????….I’m not going to comment on the comparison of American beer and Pierre Berton’s definition of a true Canadian….there is a very strong history of canoes and canoeing in the United States….canoe builders like Morris, Old Town, E.M. White and Rushton….canoeing and outdoors philosophers like Henry David Thoreau, Sigurd Olson and Aldo Leopold….great canoe areas like the Boundary Waters and Adirondacks…..and the American Canoe Association has a colourful history (as described on Wikipedia: American Canoe Association):

The American Canoe Association (ACA) is the oldest and largest paddle sports organization in the United States, promoting canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. The ACA sponsors more than seven hundred events each year, along with safety education, instructor certification, waterway conservation and public information campaigns. There are more than four thousand ACA certified canoe and kayak instructors. More than two hundred local paddling clubs and fifty thousand individuals are members.

History

The ACA was founded in 1880 by Scottish lawyer, John MacGregor, who had founded the British Royal Canoe Club (RCC) in 1866. In 1883, ACA Secretary Charles Neide and retired sea captain “Barnacle” Kendall paddled and sailed over three thousand miles from Lake George, New York to Pensacola, Florida. The site of Neide and Kendall’s launch and the formation of the American Canoe Association is located on the grounds of the Wiawaka Holiday House. In 1886 the ACA and the RCC held the first international canoe sailing regatta. Largely through the efforts of Waldemar Van B. Claussen of the ACA, representatives of nineteen national clubs met in Copenhagen in 1924 to establish the Internationale Reprasentantenschaft des Kanusport (IRK), forerunner of the International Canoe Federation (ICF).

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountains, New York has many artifacts from the early years of the ACA.

There are some important events in America coming up this month that celebrate the canoe….here are some examples:

July 10-15, 2011, Adirondack FreeStyle Symposium:

 Some of the first ACA canoe symposiums were originally held on small lakes in the Adirondacks. Wolfe pond, is nestled in the high peaks region offering spectacular views. The Lake Placid venue offers more than just paddling, especially for non-paddling friends or family.  Hiking, shopping, dining, and exploring Olympic venues are some of the area things to do.

The Symposium has expanded to six days to allow participants to explore the High Peaks area and take organized group paddles in the area.   

Mornings are dedicated to Solo coursework, the traditional FS 1-5 plus new courses on Transverse Paddling and High Kneel Thrusts.

Tandem coursework occurs in afternoons to allow solo paddlers to experience FreeStyle’s duality.

Special Topics also offered in the afternoons, include Paddling the Inside Circle, Sit & Switch Touring, The Giant Slalom Course, Canadian Style Solo, FreeStyle Creek Running and One on One Tune-Ups with the Instructor of your choice. 

From the Canoe & Kayak website, Canoe & Kayak: Events:

July 9-10, Wisconsin River Canoe and Kayak Race – Spring Green, Wis.

As one of the largest paddling races in Wisconsin, this race has attracted some of the nation’s finest paddlers. On Saturday, July 9, there will be two night races with the main racing on Sunday. There will be a 21-mile start at Bob’s Riverside Resort in Spring Green, a 15-mile start at Otter Creek Landing in Lone Rock, and an 8-mile start at Pine River/Buena Vista Landing in Gotham. All of the races will end at Victora Riverside Park in Muscoda. This part of the Wisconsin River has long been prized for its beautiful scenery and camping. www.wicanoeracing.com

July 16-17, St. Louis River Whitewater Rendezvous and Slalom – Carlton, Minn.

Two days of whitewater racing action at the National Kayak and Canoe Center is what the Whitewater Rendezvous and Slalom offers a wide variety of paddlers. Presented by The University of Minnesota-Duluth, Saturday’s slalom event is for the more experienced racers with Sunday reserved for novice competitors. For more information, contact Randy Carlson at rcarlso6@d.umn.edu or www.umdrsop.org

July 16-17, 6th Annual Main Kayak Fishing Tournament – West Bath, Maine

Hosted by Seaspray Kayaking, the Maine Kayak Fishing Tournament will offer anglers a chance to show off their fishing skills. The tournament is divided into three divisions; Spin/Baitcast, Fly Fishing, and Kids (under 16). For more information go to www.mainekayakfishing.com or www.seaspraykayaking.com.

July 16-17, Paddle Bainbridge – Bainbridge, Wash.

This is a 26-mile overnight paddle around Bainbridge Island, Wash., with views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and Cascade mountain range. Guided Tour or personal paddle options. www.olympicoutdoorcenter.com

July 19-22, Missouri River 340 Mile Race – Kansas City/St. Charles, Mo.

Ominously known as the MR340, this race is the longest unlimited ultra in the world. With 88 hours total to finish the race, competitors have nine check points along the scenic Missouri River that stretches across the entire state. The entire course is Class 1 and there are plenty of towns and hamlets to stop and restock supplies. Just entering this paddling challenge is enough for some bragging rights.www.rivermiles.com

July 23, Eppies Great Race – Rancho Cordova and Sacramento, Calif.

Known as the “no swim triathlon,” Eppie’s Great Race is comprised of a 5.82 mi run, 12.5 mi cycle, and 6.35 mi paddle along the American River Parkway. There is a large variety of divisions including adaptive, teams and ironpersons. River Bend Park will be host to the after-party were spectators and participants can watch for their results while enjoying food, drink, and vendor booths. www.thegreatrace.org

There are other events listed on the American Canoe Association website, American Canoe association: Events. Two such events are:

2011 Thompson Columbia Brigade, Oregon To Ocean, (2011 Thompson Brigade, Oregon To Ocean)

June 3 to July 16, 2011. 

Two hundred years ago, in 1811, fur trader, explorer, surveyor, and mapmaker David Thompson reached the Pacific Ocean adding the Columbia River as the final leg of the fur trade highway between Montreal and the Pacific. His route would be used for fifty years as the major route across the Rocky Mountains by the twice annual Columbia Express, later adapted by the Hudson’s Bay Company to become the York Factory Express.

The fur trade was a unique era that depended upon collaboration between native peoples and Europeans exchanging furs and other bounties of the land and rivers for trade items manufactured far away. Fur trade exploration shaped the boundaries of Canada and the United States.

In 2011 salute the Columbia River Basin and its history by paddling voyageur canoes 1800 kilometres (1200 miles) along David Thompson’s historic route from present day Invermere, British Columbia, to Astoria, Oregon.

This event is actually international beginning in Canada….and starting off in June….but it is an important part of the history of the canoe in the United States.

The Carolina Canoe Club is hosting the Week of Rivers:

Carolina Canoe Club – Week of Rivers

July 1 to July 10, 2011

When: 7/1/2011
Where: Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground
Bryson City, NC    

Week of Rivers is the Carolina Canoe Club’s flagship annual paddling event. Each year around the 4th of July, much of the CCC’s membership converges on the Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground in Bryson City, NC for 9 days of paddling fun, evening activities, and camping. Bryson City is nestled in the western corner of North Carolina, right in the heart of whitewater heaven, the Nantahala River Gorge. Though not a comprehensive list, nearby rivers include the Nantahala, Tellico, Tuckasegee, and Ocoee. Rivers a longer distance away include the Chattooga and the Little (TN). Daily paddling trips to the regional rivers are organized at the morning meeting, which usually begins at 8:30am at the very conspicuous meeting tent on the campground. Trips are offered for all skill levels: Expert, Advanced, Intermediate, and Beginner / Novice. It’s not necessary to sign up for the daily paddling trips, just show up!

Heritage events include:

Wooden Canoe Heritage Association 32nd Annual Assembly

Other places in America to visit are the Wisconsin Heritage Canoe Museum….the Adirondack Museum….or the Antique Boat Museum.

One of the most unique stores anywhere is the Chicagoland Canoe Base:

Welcome to the Chicagoland Canoe Base, one of the midwest’s largest canoe and kayak specialty shops. We have been outfitting paddlers for over 50 years and carry a wide selection of equipment. Stop on by and learn about what makes us, “The most unusual canoe shop in the U.S.”

Chicagoland Canoe Base is probably the most unusual canoe store I’ve ever seen….even its owner Ralph Frese is one of a kind (as he describes himself on his Facebook page: President & Head Janitor. Most Unusual Canoe Shop in the US Also a Blacksmith Shop.

From Chicagoland Canoe Base: Who We Are

Ralph Frese (Owner)

The founder and the spirit of Chicagoland Canoe Base. He started this wonderful adventure, he built the business, the buildings and his touch can be seen in everything here. He is Chicagoland Canoe Base.

Here are some YouTube videos of Ralph:

 

I was fortunate to meet Ralph Frese in Toronto in the late 1980s when I was working at Trailhead….Ralph was on vacation which meant visiting canoe shops….and canoe builders….as well as folks like Kirk Wipper. I was amazed at Ralph’s passion for canoes and canoeing….and very pleased he sent me a Chicagoland Canoe Base T-shirt (that I still cherish) with its distinct logo of the canoe on top of a horse and buggy. I visited the store in Chicago and was treated to a tour of Ralph’s collection of canoes….including birch bark replicas he had built. Ralph is a blacksmith….and there was still a working blacksmith shop. I notice that the current website states: “Business For Sale. Owner Retiring.” It will take a very special person to replace Ralph Frese….if that is even possible.

Another amazing American paddler was Verlen Kruger….according to Wikipedia: Verlen Kruger:

Verlen Kruger (June 30, 1922 – August 2, 2004) was a canoe enthusiast who paddled over 100,000 km (62,000 mi) in his lifetime according to the Guiness Book of World Records, all the more remarkable because he did not start until age 41. Of particular note are the 29,341 km (18,232 mi) Two Continent Canoe Expedition and the 45,130 km (28,040 mi) Ultimate Canoe Challenge, the longest canoe journey ever.

Verlen Kruger.com has more information….including a wonderful book  All Things are Possible, The Verlen Kruger Story: 100,000 Miles By Paddle by Phil Peterson….as well as maps of Verlen’s incredible journeys:

Cross Continent Canoe Safari (CCCS) 1971   The CCCS was Verlen’s first major paddling trip. Following a route sometimes called the Fur Trade Route, he and CLint Waddell paddled a tandem canoe from Montreal to the Bering Sea. No one had ever managed this 8,000-mile trip in less than a year due to annual freeze-ups along the route, but Verlen and Clint made it in 176 days. Instead of waiting for the ice to break up in Montreal, they portaged their canoe and gear 40 miles miles to reach open water.

Ultimate Canoe Challenge (UCC)
1980-1983
  Verlen and Steve Landick’s UCC was five years in the planning. They began their monumental trip in Red Rock, Montana and ended it 3-1/2 years later in Lansing, Michigan. Over the course of their 28,000-mile-plus trip, they paddled through or along the borders of most of the states. The UCC included two especially impressive stretches: upstream on the entire Mississippi River and upstream on the Colorado River all of the way through the Grand Canyon.

Two Continent Canoe Expedition (TCCE) 1986-1989   Verlen and his partner, Valerie Fons, began the TCCE in Inuvik, Northwest Territories in Canada and rounded Cape Horn about 2 1/2 years later. This 21,000-mile trip included open-ocean stretches, during which Verlen and Valerie were out of sight of land for a day or more. Verlen and Valerie encountered severe flooding in many parts of South America and frequently slept in their canoes instead of making a camp.

Mississippi Challenges 1984, 2001, 2003   In addition to the upstream paddle that he and Steve made during the UCC, Verlen also paddled down the Mississippi’s entire length. The first trip was the Eddie Bauer Challenge in 1984 with Valerie Fons, for which they earned a Guinness World Record. Verlen’s next trip downstream was in 2001, when he and Bob Bradford were the paddlers for the Team Kruger in the Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome. In 2003 Verlen did not paddle, but instead was Race Director and part of Team Hope’s shore crew.

Here are some YouTube videos on Verlen Kruger:

 

Verlen Kruger didn’t start until he was 41….so there’s still hope for me LOL LOL. As E. B. White wrote on age: “For an old man, a canoe is ideal; he need only sit and move his arms.” 

As previously mentioned two of the major canoeing areas in the United States include  Boundary Waters Canoe Area and in the Adirondacks (there is a number of online resources to paddling in the Adirondacks)….one amazing project is the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine….a 740-mile paddling route that traces a fascinating history from early Native Americans through European settlers…..also introduces you to the places and people that make waterway destinations….in the Adirondacks and Northern New England inviting and exciting today.

The route’s variety of flat water, swift water, and whitewater, on a range of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds provide extensive opportunities for canoe and kayak recreation. Vibrant communities along the way offer inns, B&Bs and camping facilities, as well as other recreational and heritage attractions.

A celebration planned for the Fourth of July in Bostonis  the Charles River Canoe & Kayak: July 4th Fireworks Ten-Person Canoe Tour:

Join us for a spectacular night of fireworks in our ten-person Rabaska Canoe! Enjoy a relaxing evening listening to the Pops concert under the city lights, followed by the spectacle of fireworks exploding right above your head.

Our stable and fast Rabaska canoes seat up to 10 paddlers and provide the perfect platform to view the fireworks. Come alone and experience the camaraderie under the purview of our experienced guide, or bring a bunch of friends and fill a whole boat! The tour includes light food, desserts, and non-alcoholic beverages.

As the Bost.com: See The 4th of July From The River describes:

The best way to watch the 4th of July fireworks is really from the water, so go for a adventure on the Charles River and rent a kayak or a canoe for the evening!  Watching the fireworks from the Charles River is much easier than you think: the State Police welcome boaters, and access is only restricted immediately around the fireworks barge. Best of all, the view can’t be beat…

You will live an experience like no other: first, paddling at night is a truly special experience (since the entire stretch of the river you will cover is in town and along brightly lit avenues and streets, there is actual ample lighting to paddle). Second, the Charles on the 4th is quite a sight, with more boats than you’ll see in an entire year. The small size and flexibility of your canoe or kayak will allow you to sneak in the best spots, or paddle slowly along the shore and soak in the sights and sounds of the event.

The best option for launch will be from the Boston location, about a mile from Harvard Square in Cambridge, where there is ample free parking. Including the time to paddle down to the Esplanade, watch the fireworks, and come back, you should expect to spend several hours on the river, so be sure to bring in extra clothing, snacks and drinks.

If you are in New York City, the best seat to see the fireworks is in your kayak….Canoe & Kayak: Fourth of July Fireworks in NYC The Best Place To Watch Is From Your Kayak explains:

If you live in New York City and care about the outdoors, you’ll do all sorts of crazy things. You’ll train for a marathon exclusively on the 4.25-mile dirt path in Central Park. You’ll sink the bulk of your disposable income into a summer rental near the dunes of Montauk. Or you’ll cram two pairs of cross-country skis, one mountain bike, a surfboard, three snowboards, two wetsuits, a tent, and half a dozen CamelBaks into your 350-square-foot apartment’s lone closet. But the craziest-sounding scheme of all is the one that’s actually worth traveling to Manhattan for: Kayaking the Hudson River. At night. On the Fourth of July.

The mental preparation: This is the farthest thing from your typical night out in New York. There will be no Marc Jacobs-clad, Stoli-and-soda drinking city dwellers in sight. Yet it’s also completely unlike a July 4th celebration anywhere else.

The physical: Wearing drytops and soggy neoprene spray skirts, you’ll walk single-file down the gangway at Pier 66, just above Chelsea Piers. The water will be choppy, and the dock will buck and bob. You will crave Dramamine. Your guide will drag single and double kayaks from within a cavernous hold beneath the pier and set them down on the dock, where they’ll glow in the twilight. You’ll attach safety lights to your bow and stern, grab a paddle, and ease into the cockpit.

The traffic: The Hudson River will resemble the West Side Highway (located just 200 feet from pier) during rush hour. Nearly all of the city’s Circle Line barges and mini cruise ships will be out tonight, as will every drunken slob in this city of eight million who owns a powerboat. The traffic is no joke, your guide Eric Stiller, of Manhattan Kayak Company, will warn. The 25 of you are to stick together and stay close to the shoreline, which in this case is slabs of concrete and occasional tangles of rebar. You’ll push off from the dock under a halo of light from the Frying Pan, a 133-foot former lightship built in 1929 to withstand the hurricanes off the coast of Cape Fear, N.C., and later retrofitted with a below-deck bar and dancefloor. As you head out into the Hudson, pointing your boat south towards the Statue of Liberty, the Frying Pan heaves in time with the waves and the disco.

The work: Eric will lead the way in a double kayak, chatting incessantly, growing giddy about this trip – an annual paddle for him. You’ll already be battling the Hudson’s fierce current as you pass the outdoor driving range at Chelsea Piers. As you glance to the west at the condos and smokestacks of New Jersey, the sky will have that pink glow of urban nighttime.

You will be a silent member of a massive, motorized boat parade. The wakes join forces to create 5-foot waves. You’ll angle your boat into the bigger swells and let the smaller ones lift you up. Sometimes you’ll surf the biggest waves as they crest and spill toward shore.

The payoff: Your group will pull into a rectangular inlet–the Greenwich Village equivalent of a bay. You’ll extend paddles to each other and hold them tight, forming a flotilla. It’ll be quiet here, safe from the traffic. You’ll rest for a few minutes. Then suddenly, three pyrotechnic displays will begin simultaneously, illuminating the sky above midtown, downtown, and the Statue of Liberty. The good folks at Macy’s will warm up with the standards: the spark-tailed Chrysanthemums, the cylindrical Dahlias, the comet-like Palms, and the squiggly Fish. Then they’ll deliver Bouquet Shells–bursts of light immediately followed by smaller bursts of light–and Salutes, which sound like gunshots ricocheting through the night.

Photo from Canoe & Kayak: Fourth of July Fireworks in NYC The Best Place To Watch Is From Your Kayak

The explosions will keep coming–more than 20,000 pyrotechnic shells from seven different barges. You’ll be watching the world’s largest fireworks display, in triplicate, from the water. Peonies over the Empire State Building, Horsetails dropping into Ground Zero, Willows down by Lady Liberty. And dozens of smaller fireworks displays will pop in the sky from Ellis Island to the George Washington Bridge. And by this point it won’t sound crazy at all: Being outdoors in New York has never been so glorious.

So there is much to canoes and canoeing in the United States….much more than just American beer LOL LOL….I hope our friends south of the border get a chance to get out in a canoe tomorrow….or any day really. Have a great July 4th on the water!!!!

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