I used to tell concerned parents, questioners, and fearful hikers that I would never go into the "capital W Wilderness" alone, to assuage their worries about the risks of being a solo female hiker. That was before I truly understood what capital W Wilderness was, or that it is passed through by some of the most beautiful trails, or that it is often so intensely visited that permitting systems are necessary to keep it even remotely wild.
What separates protected Wilderness from National Parks or state parks? Imaginary lines and different management and regulations. The bears do not know the difference when they cross between Park and Wilderness, and neither in many ways do I.
Parks v. Wilderness
by Christine Reed
My wildness will not be tamed by boundaries, fences, roads, or rangers.
You cannot contain the rage of my rivers, the burn of my heat, or the mountainous drifts of my snow.
The soft beauty and riot of color—even my flowers are wild.
Find Christine on Instagram and TikTok @ruggedoutdoorswoman
Read her memoir Alone in Wonderland for a journey on the Wonderland Trail.
A Slow Death in a National Park
by Marty Cowan
Carrying the past, sometimes recent, sometimes fossilized
on my shoulders, tucked away somewhere remotely where it can hide.
Most often without even realizing,
(grateful for the unknowing, actually).
Bees on the wildflowers buzz wildly from bloom to bloom showing me I’m not the only one with an agenda.
The snowmelt descends to where it’s supposed to go, an outpouring of generosity. And the trail markers tell me which way to go.
I don’t want to think, I don’t have to think.
Show me the way, just show me the way.
Marty Cowan is the author of Table To Trail a collection of plant-based recipes for day hikers. You can find her on Instagram @tabletotrail
i live here
by Bronwyn Preece
Bronwyn Preece is honoured and privileged to live on the unceded Traditional Territories of the Lil’wat # and Squamish Peoples in Whistler, BC. This awareness brings with it many levels of responsibility, humbleness, transparency, and collaborative possibilities. She is a site-sensitive poetic-pirate and multi-disciplinary, community-engaged arts practitioner. She holds a PhD in Performance, along with an MA and BFA in Applied Theatre. She has taught, facilitated workshops and performed internationally. She is the author of Gulf Islands Alphabet (Simply Read Books, 2012); and the forthcoming knee deep in high water: riding the Muskwa-Kechika, expedition poems (Caitlin Press, 2023) and Sea to Sky Alphabet (Simply Read Books, 2023); along with multiple academic and artistic publications. She is an avid solo, backcountry-backpacker who writes on the trail, with the word gratitude tattooed on her arm. Find her on instagram @poetichiker and Facebook at Bronwyn Preece.
by meaghan martin
I was born wild.
Fierce in my screams,
Tireless in my joy.
I would run barefoot and shirtless through the backyard,
Little by little, the world tamed my heart.
It built fences alongside cliffs,
roadways through my center,
and entrances gates,
to keep out those who weren’t trustworthy.
Untamed corners of my being
became more manicured,
And as the wildness left me,
I became curated to fit into a world
That I didn’t want to belong to anymore.
Years later, I felt a whisper of a breeze.
I noticed the dance of a honeybee,
Who wasn’t familiar with fences,
The flitting of sparrows
Who were undeterred by roads,
And a gentle soul who taught me
“It is okay to unlock the gate.”
It wasn’t until I stepped beyond the confines of who I had become
That I understood,
Fences can be dismantled,
Roads returned to gravel,
And gates left ajar,
For the wildness
Is still there,
Waiting to be reclaimed.
Meaghan is a backpacker and writer living in Maine with loved ones and pets. You can find her on Instagram and TikTok at @meaghan_adventures
Watch Out For Slugs
by Tatiana Corbitt
Don't disturb the moss,
the trees need their sweaters
Watch out for slugs
and their slow, soft bodies
one misstep - and SPLAT -
they're gone forever
Leave earth better
than you found it.
Tatiana is a writer and artist living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She graduated with her M.S. in Applied Biological Sciences in 2019 and is currently working on her debut novel. Her writing is frequently published on narcolepsy.sleep-disorders.net
A Poem Planned
by Maggie Seymour
When given the option of the wild or the walkable - who would choose the walkable? Aren’t the wanderers in us supposed to crave the wide expanses and unruly mountain air? No park ever called out to John Muir.
Parks aren’t poetic. They aren’t grandiose, wild, or untamed. They’re curated, carefully crafted by women and men to fit, to nest into the lives of the “civilized.” They’re cultivated for walkability and accessibility, shrubs and flora chosen specifically for the climate and color scheme, replaced every few weeks for the new crop of tourists and townsfolk.
To live among the wild takes passion. Living among the parks takes planning.
But does that make them any less romantic? Aren’t parks our way of saying we will not, cannot live without mother nature? Even amongst the steel and concrete and endless construction of our lives, that the biology within demands the biology without. Without care, without us. Doesn’t that decidedly unromantic planning require a deep love and respect for the world that would enjoy an unfettered existence if it weren’t for us? Don’t they represent a symbiosis, the potential in the partnership among all living things?
Aren’t they an homage to the wildness in us all?
Don’t they show and show off the connection between the natural world that governs both our mountain ranges and our morning jogs, our woods and our DNA, lovely dark and deep? Bite sized bushes and brambles, amuses-bouches, enough to get through to the next entree of wilderness.
In this world of hunger for the outside, we take what we can get.
I wonder all this as I meander through a new city park during my lunch break, 30 minutes of crisp autumn air in a city that bears its teeth every winter, a city that refuses to bend under the will and and the weight of father winter, seemingly hibernating, resting until the first carefully chosen bulbs of mother spring emerge.
Is that not wild still?
Maggie is a mother, diplomat, Marine, partner, writer, runner, student and wanderer. She lives along the east coast. She is currently working on her first memoir set against her 2017 transcontinental run. You can find her on instagram @runfreerunner and on her blogs www.runfreerun.com and www.motherfeminist.com
by Anne Whiting
This piece is an original song with music, available to listen on Youtube
I went out to the place
They call “The Last Frontier”
I thought I’d see some wagons
Some buffalo and pioneers
I braced myself for a crazy
Old-time Wild West show
A sheriff and some bandits
Deep in a town’s shadows
I hoped I’d find some romance here
In this Last Frontier
I touched down in a glade
As wild as a stormy sea
I looked around but couldn’t
See the forest for the trees
There was spruce and hemlock
No sign of human life
Not even Longhorn cattle
Only me and I’d just arrived
Trapped here for a full week’s cheer
In the Last Frontier
That morning when I woke
To sun and sweet birdsong
I went to see the mountains
It took the whole of my day long
‘Cause the wilderness has nothing
No trails, no signs, no stores
I lost myself in shadows
In streams and glens outdoors
Found my way by starlight clear
Through this Last Frontier
That week was one that changed
What I thought I knew was true
‘Cause at its end I felt I
Had come alive with life brand-new
Streams and peaks and wildlife
Refreshed by a summer’s breeze
It’s real and joyful life here
It’s wild and madly free
Found my home in the nothing here
Of this Last Frontier
Anne Whiting has been creating adventure opportunities through trail guides since 2010. She publishes her guides on her blog and in book form. When not dreaming up new trails, she likes to play music with her band and dabble in digital art and website development. Follow Anne’s past and present adventures on Facebook, MeWe, Patreon, and Instagram @viewjunkieanne
A parking lot, a sidewalk, a leaf blower and some trash pandas
by Heidi Love
A front gate with a lock
A driveway winding thru
Past the native plants that landscapers dismiss
Parallel to the road
Poured concrete, white and smooth
A flat, smooth, accessible lane
For foot, bike, stroller, wheelchair
First a stop sign, pedestrian crossing
Then a parking lot
The first great development
Instituted by man so that you may leave your motorized vehicle, powered by fossil fuels
Next is Choose Your Adventure
Fishing pier - water access for food or recreation
Is it called “peace of mind” or hunting?
Boardwalk trail - elevated, curated structure, you walk on water out into the mangrove estuary, surrounded by trees which only grow in the water, providing a nursery for marine life. The water level ebbs and flows, affected by the tides, exposing the nutrient rich mud filled with tiny holes *aww, baby crabs*
Hiking path - an artificially elevated mound of dirt offers you a dry “safe” structural foot path to traverse into the mangroves, ending at a lakefront gazebo.
There are lots of ways that you can access nature in the city. This Park is one way you can enjoy “true” nature right in your backyard.
Is it fun?
What did you see?
Any educational opportunities?
What did you learn?
Here I have the opportunity to share with you the “natural environment” of
The Blue Heron
The Mangrove Crab
The Snapping Shrimp
And the Pepsi Machine
Don’t forget -at night- more creatures appear -some of natural occurrence- other extraterrestrial.
Heidi is a camper and hiker living with loved ones and pets in South Florida.
I am Wild, Too
By Belinda Arndt
I seek the wilderness because, unlike me, it has been untouched by modern development.
Animals are free to wander through the golden aspens as I sit in traffic in captivity.
New life sprouts from the forest ground as my soul is dying walking the city streets.
Nature is nature in its wonderous state.
Humans separate nature from itself to inflict our objective.
The wilderness seeks me because it knows that I am wild, too.
Belinda Arndt is a solo traveler and adventurer based outside of Washington DC. Her tagline is "It's always an adventure with me!" Catch her adventures on her website WanderingBel.com which aims to build a community of solo travelers to share their travel stories. You can find her on instagram @wandering_bel and Facebook at Wandering Bel Blog
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