Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lift Thine Eyes

Some have the Romantic view (note the capital R) that the wilderness is unbounded good; humans are depraved. Perhaps Christopher McCandless might have thought the same before his trip to the Alaskan bush turned ill.

Yet, events both recent and distant remind me that the wilderness is not idyllic pastures with laughing brooks. It is also an unexpectedly snowy, cold, pathless place full of slide alder, seracfall and breakable crust. When you find yourself in such a place it's astounding how fast you are reminded that the wilderness is utterly apathetic about us humans. It will follow its own cruel law to completion.

However, simply drawing a dichotomy between the benign, pastoral view and the sublime, yet perilous view oversimplifies matters. Much of my attraction to wilderness is due to its wildness. Wilderness puts me and my petty problems in their proper place. It is a relief that while human generations come and go, nature proceeds with units of geologic time many orders of magnitude removed.

How many generations did it take for Bear Creek, in Kings Canyon NP to cut its channel through the resistant granite? Certainly more than just mine. That's obvious for me to type and you to read. Yet when I realized that a few years ago sitting next to Bear Creek, it was utterly comforting. The burden of my life's problems was removed and placed into context. Regardless of what I do, I am powerless in the face of the process of erosion, glaciation, uplift.

Yes, the unavoidable corrallary to this powerlessness is its danger. I am impotent in the face of nature. But where does my help come from? I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

1 comment:

  1. reading your blog is always the highlight to my very long day, it's nice to read right before I go to bed and have pleasant dreams of the wilderness :D keep safe, and dad is going to download skype.