Friday, May 11, 2012

Back in the wild

4/10/12 my brain's not firing on all cylinders today. I feel listless. Part of it is I am getting back in shape. Let's face it, besides occasional bike rides, I was pretty sedentary this past winter. One thing I love about the Adirondacks is all the hiking trails. Back in Madison, there wasn't a good enough reasom for me to walk everyday. Its not worth the bother just to walk through commercial and residential areas day after day. As far as parks go there were plenty to choose from but to me, walking from one end of the park to the other is no fun. It just underscores this idea of limitation, whichj ios ever present in civilized areas anyway.

I've come to identify with wild areas. Its something that happened to me early on. So I identify with wild areas and these seem in opposition to civilized urban areas and even cultivated areas like cornfields, wheat fields, etc. So endless sub-divisions, strip malls, highways, buildings, power lines, etc. seem like an alien environment to me. So I seek a park in order to try and breath, regain some inner equilibrium, but then its only so big. Within an hour I can walk from one end of the park to the other, Busy roads and buildings predominate outside the borders so it feels like a cage. Is that the goal really to have a cage? I hear terms like refuge, oasis, to describe places like the Arburetum, in Madison, but to me it just reinforces the idea of limitation. The deep need the Adirondacks satisfies is the need to experience seemingly endless wildspace. To have my senses consumed with the wild, wild smells, wild sounds, wild sights. Trails that seem to go on for ever. It is an illusion, the park does have boundaries, but there is a sense of limitlessness. The park border is 400 miles around. But as far as the eye can see in many spots its wild. One can think in terms of superlatives, for both time and space. Forever Wild. And traversing a trail there are always side trails, one could explore another day. So very soon the realization is reached that it would take a lifetime to explore all the trails, and you probably still would't see every one. So walking for an hour in the Adirondacks is that musch more rejuevenating than walking from one end to the other through an urban park.

I also enjoy solitude. I've gone on several walks so far, a couple more than eight miles where I haven't seen another soul the whole time and that suits me just fine. I came to a lot of these realizations early on and I think the Adirondacks plays a big part in that. I give a lot of signifigance to the tall pines along route 28. My heart would beat faster when My father would cross the bridge by Forest Port and head up the hill and I'd see those tall pines. The official border wasn't for a couple more miles but seeing those pines acted as a border to me. There was something different about them. I didn't see trees quite like that in Binghamton, which had many beautiful wild areas, but there it was mostly deciduous trees. This was the start of the Boreal forest. That's what it meant to me. Looking at them now, I can obviously see that they aren't any think like old growth. They may have even been planted there. But they are impressively tall and were so over 20 years ago when I came up here with my Dad. I would be lulled to a state of semi-sleep on the long car drive through the rolling hills of upstate NY and when I crossed that bridge and saw those trees, something awakened within me.

I began to sense that I was about to encounter something mysterious, something that strangely called to me. We began to pass boggy lakes, ringed not by mowed lawns and boat docks but by beds of sphagnum moss and small spruce trees. I peered intently into the woods as we drove deeper into the park and tried to catch a glimpse of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. This yearning was checked slightly when we reached Old Forge and my sister wanted go on the rides in the enchanted forest. But diplomatically My Father and I also dragged her on hikes in the woods. I think the Adirondacks acts as an examplar for wild areas I have experienced since. Maybe this is why Northern Minnesota seems “too flat” The Colorado Rockies seem “too dry” and the Pacific North West seems “too wet.” All these places have their own magic. (Of course when in Northern Minnesota or Noerthern Wisconsin I never once said “It's too buggy here I wish I was in the Adirondacks!”)

After college I returned to the Adirondacks with my young wife and sought to recapture that mysterious feeling of encountering the Wild. Our first trip back I wanted to go to the very deepest wildest part of the park wherever that was. We drove all the way through the park and to the other side and it ended up getting dark before we settled on a place to camp! We came in through Forestport and ended up near Albany! Later a friend from church, back in Binghamton, a black bear hunter, recommended to us the Moose river plains when we inquired as to what he thought was the wildest area we could drive to and camp in from our cars. We immediately fell in love with it and decided we would concentrate our weekend explorations there. Every spare long weekend we spent in the Park, mostly in the Moose River Recreation area. On shorter weekends, we would go to Moss Lake just outside of Inlet and on vacations we ventured further into the parks and climbed mountains, such as Marcy, Giant Mountain etc. I began to wonder at one point, what does it say about our relationship with Binghamton, that as soon as we had the slightest chance we immediately got the hell out of there and drove to the Adirondacks.

That's a sign that We didn't reallylike it there. One beautiful warm fall day on top of a mountain, overlooking the autum leaves of forested hills that seemed to go on forever, my wife and I took a vow. We vowed to live and make our lives in the Wilderness, we weren't sure how we were going to do it but we knew we would. Our story takes a dog leg after this vow. Many things transppired that got in the way of fulfilling our vow, bringing us ever closer but somehow never close enough. First we moved to Minnestota instead of the Adirondacks, where We had made the vow. (if this is to be an article don't talk about MN) The reason was that I wanted to live near wolves. There were reportedly no wolves in the Adirondacks. All through this time I argued back in forth with myself as to wether we should move to Alaska. But now We are back. We are back in order to live out our ideal by tempering our ideal with practicality and thus suceed in being able to actually live it out. The Adirondacks provides the best chance we have to be able to live and work in close proximity to and in intimate relation with the wilderness.

I am manifesting my intention. I am manifesting my intention. What is the goal? To own a piece of land free and clear with a Cabin. To make my living as a writer and to be able to travel, visiting wilderness areas the world over, but also intimately getting to know the adirondacks. <a href="!">Woodswoman</a> type lifestyle. I am doing things now. Its good to remember that. Its good to live in the present and not always in the future. I am in the Adirondacks now, earning room and board and being able to write, I am free to hike in the woods. I am learning everyday.

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