What is it that keeps us coming back into wilderness areas for more? We leave the supposed safety and comforts of our homes, our towns, our cities, and we plunge deep into the wild to pedal, explore, bikepack, or bomb down hills on shuttled runs. Why? Is it the insanity and sterility of living in the city that propels us outward? Is it boredom and the need to someway somehow put our lives ever so slightly in harm’s way? Whatever the reason, the wilderness calls.
Do we listen?
The more urbanized we become as a country and planet means the more people are longing to eschew urban life for brief respites beyond the city limits, beyond paved roads, and embark into areas where we may or may not see other humans. Sometimes our adventures are but a mere few hours on the trail just outside of the city. Other times there are multi-day bikepacking trips where we rarely see another soul. What compels us? Is it city living?
Don’t get me wrong. I love living in the city and in the heart of it. I find it thrilling and adventuresome to continue to explore my city on foot and bike. Over the years I’ve had countless urban adventures that were inspiring and left an indelible mark on my life. And yet, it doesn’t fully satiate these appetites for the wild areas … wilderness … far from the city lights, street noise, and dense built environment that surrounds me on a daily basis. As much as I can I load up my bike, punch through the Columbia Gorge, and find a trail to feed my soul.
At some point we say enough is enough and begin really feeding that hunger and thirst for wilderness adventure. We read accounts of young Everett Ruess trekking all over the American Southwest with his mule in the early 1930s only to mysteriously disappear at the age of 20. Then there’s the more well known Chris McCandless of Into the Wild fame who too walked away from civilization to live alone … explore … and eventually meet his demise at the age of 24. Both are either held up as icons and legendary figures for their exploits or merely fools for their haphazard irresponsibility and recklessness. Either way, their stories resonate.
We have a lot of reasons to plunge headlong into wilderness areas … escape, reprieve, adventure, solace, exhilaration, isolation, exercise, or simply to be grounded. Whatever the reason we have much to be grateful for. Many of us live in places where within minutes we can be lost in a deep, dense, and damp forest or descending a ridgeline in between junipers and sotols (desert spoon) in the high desert. From the Laurentian Mountains in Québec to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico to the Loess Hills in western Iowa there’s a never-ending supply of wild areas for us to explore and experience.
I don’t know where your wilderness areas are, but you do. Explore more.
Words and photos by Sean Benesh
Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager