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Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement?
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Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 12/29/2011 22:34:30 MST Print View

I wrote this essay on wilderness/outdoors and wonder what you all think? is getting outside an escape from our other "reality" or an opportunity to engage more fully in our lives?

Feel free to comment and offer your own perspective!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 12/30/2011 08:29:33 MST Print View

It is just simply part of my life. Nothing more, nothing less. But it is also why I choose to not live in cities.

Gabriel Diaz
(freelancer) - F

Locale: South Florida
That's good reading, thanks for sharing on 12/30/2011 08:30:34 MST Print View

Interesting piece, Ryan. I would say that the wilderness is an escape from the mundane workplace, the heavy traffic, and the annoying neighbors. There is a genuine tranquility to be found Out There that cannot be replicated by any human means. I read in one of the Amazon reviews on the Planet Earth tv series how watching it was like a spa for the mind, and that's what nature does - it cleans one up from the inside out and helps to refresh our jaded perspectives.

It also helps to remind us that life is really a lot simpler than we typically make it out to be. When you realize that all you really need out there is shelter, a water source, and some hunting tools - if we bring it down to our most basic survival needs - it helps you either appreciate the daily creature comforts around you or, better yet, it helps you reject many of them and gets you to live a simpler life.

As you point out in the essay, the challenge of being on your own outdoors is also intriguing, and can help you to take better stock of your mundane life, and have a better handle on everyday problems.

I think nature just reminds us that we are human, and being human means we are also an animal species that is part of a much bigger and greater web of life.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Part of us on 12/30/2011 08:34:26 MST Print View

We're not that far away from our nomadic past. I think most folk still have that urge to travel and live outdoors in their sub-conscious. Some more than others.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 12/30/2011 09:01:04 MST Print View

Just feels like going home to me.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 12/30/2011 09:06:26 MST Print View

I call it "something to do"

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re home on 12/30/2011 09:21:23 MST Print View

I'm with Joe.
It's going home.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 12/30/2011 09:53:26 MST Print View

Both I think.

I can escape the routine and everyday frustrations that can pile up so easily.

I can engage my heart, soul and mind in the beauty of nature, feel and hear my blood flowing and feel not so much independent as "dependent on myself".

I am a people person. Whatever outdoor activity I engage in I find it much more enjoyable in the company of others.

While my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm for roughing it she does appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. I am very lucky that she understands my desire to spend time in the outdoors.

During the first two weeks of June 2010 three of us were section hiking on the AT. While surveying the view of the valley below us from the edge of a cliff I had this urge to call home and "try" to share my joy with her. As we spoke of what I was seeing I could feel my eyes welling up.

I brought back many pictures to my lovely wife to show her what it is that draws me back year after year.

Party On,


Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Best to stay engaged! on 12/30/2011 10:22:05 MST Print View

The 11 points listed and discussed by Morgan Hite had better be applied everywhere and all of the time. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to mentally disconnect from where they are and what is going on around them.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: That's good reading, thanks for sharing on 12/30/2011 11:54:22 MST Print View

I get the feeling not all of you have wildlife in your backyard? My bad ;-)

I lived for 13 years on an Island and had a never ending parade of wilderness - we had our own herd of deer, pack of coyotes, quail, bald eagles, hawks, and so on. Where I live now black bear are not uncommon, nor are cougars. I don't feel ever disconnected. I need only walk out and the foothills are there for exploring!

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Wilderness on 12/31/2011 09:35:08 MST Print View

Wilderness is Nature and outdoor nature is reality. Man and man-made realities are only a fraction of real-world reality, even though we are doing everything in our power to destroy nature, ergo destroying ourselves. It's called the War on Nature. I see the Universe as one vast wilderness area. Can a human hike on Mars and spend the night? Nope, it's too wild. Here's a good quote I found in a book I took out on my last backpacking trip:

"We don't need your church. We have the Black Hills for our church. And we don't need your Bible. We have the wind and the rain and the stars for our Bible. The world is an open Bible for us. We've studied it for millions of years." Lakota medicine man MATTHEW KING.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
enhancing on 12/31/2011 10:21:46 MST Print View

Wilderness only seems to season me as a human, as a father, and as a husband. I am learning to check my intentions in being away from my family; nature and the wild places shouldn't be a refuge or escape from my family or my responsibilities. I do desire to have solitude and a renewing of the soul on occasion and being blessed with brief retreat out somewhere "wild" is how I find those things.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
wilderness on 12/31/2011 10:31:55 MST Print View

Agree that wilderness feels like going home. For me it is not so much an escape as a chance to engage more profoundly with "ultimate" reality. I think that it might feel more escapist if I lived the modern urban lifestyle. I am blessed in that I can go out to the woodpile or garden overlooking mountains, trees, and fields; go for a long run on dirt from my door, or make my ten minute commute to rewarding outdoor work. I don't have much to escape from and yet multi-day wilderness travel is aside from my family the most important thing in my life. It is near impossible to verbalize the incredible impact it has on body, mind, and spirit.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 12/31/2011 17:25:43 MST Print View

For me it's a bit of both and escape and an engagement.

I am very comfortable in the wilds and feel that is the best place for me. Unfortunately being diabetic doesn't allow me the careers that would allow me to live and be outdoors year round.

As such I go to the wild as much as I can because it's where I belong.

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
Thanks y'all on 12/31/2011 21:06:58 MST Print View

Thanks for sharing your thoughts all. I leave tomorrow morning for an eight day back-country ski trip, may all of your new years also begin with adventure, some outdoor time and a continued engagement in this beautiful thing called life.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
i don't want to know on 01/18/2012 07:59:14 MST Print View

i don't want to know if there is a deeper reason - i like backpacking because it is fun, challenging, and rewarding. i am growing as a person and am meeting new people and learning new things.

ask a 4 year old why he is spinning around and around in the living room and you'll get back "because it's fun"

*not aimed specifically at the OP, but at people in general*

i think the internet has disengaged us so much, that to regain some kind of interpersonal connection, we write things that analyze some topic to death so others can respond and we can engage that conversation and use it to replace some other activity in our lives. "i can't be out on the trail right now so i'll post what it is to be on the trail..."

stop analyzing everything and enjoy life. if that means one stops or limits posting on forums, than so be it.

Edited by asciibaron on 01/18/2012 08:05:12 MST.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 01/18/2012 13:42:30 MST Print View

I am with Steven.
In a way I have always walked in the mountains. I was born there.
First with my parents and grandparents then with my teenage friends.
Why ? Well that is what we did....
Same attitude with food. I don't know how many calories, the proportion between carbs fats and proteins and so on, I just put some food in my pack...

Yes, for me too, there is far too much paralysis by analysis, just go out and have fun...

Someone here at BPL mentioned one spot that I used to escape to....
That is a close to the City walk into an area where most of the time I would be by myself with wombats, goats,wallabies and snakes about .
It was my escape from work and people in general.
So, I too have done the escape thing... (I forgot about that...)

Edited by Franco on 01/19/2012 15:38:14 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Is the wilderness or outdoors an escape or an engagement? on 01/18/2012 13:53:25 MST Print View

> is getting outside an escape from our other "reality" or an opportunity to engage more fully in our lives?

Neither. The outdoors are a natural part of the planet; it's some aspects of the city which are un-natural.

Enough with the post-modern, Freudian, existentialist waffle. We are part of the planet: just enjoy.


Robert Burke
(coastiebob) - MLife

Locale: Wishing I was Backpacking
Both For Me on 01/18/2012 14:25:18 MST Print View

I live in the burbs of Washington, DC, so getting out of town is an escape no matter what the opportunity. However, to me it is a freeing feeling to be walking the trail and not having to worry about e-mail, phone calls, the stress of the modern city life. Sometimes I like hiking with others, but other times I really like just going at my own pace and my own schedule, with no place in particular I have to be.

At the same time, it is engaging. There are so many skills to learn, fears and challenges to overcome, places to see, and people to meet. I really value the knowledge that so many in this community have shared and someday hope to be one of those guides for those who come after.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Escape from is this years theme on 01/18/2012 16:12:12 MST Print View

Escape from the desert heat into the mountains when it gets to be about 90*F or above locally is a major motivation for me this year. Every year is a little different.

January and it's already shorts (mid-60's) and grilling (BBQ) weather in the American desert. Unfortunately the high temps and low snow usually indicate forest fires around here in June, so my plan is to wrap things up by memorial day.

Edited by hknewman on 01/18/2012 16:23:55 MST.