Part 3 – The philosophical stuff; wilderness travel, how we did, what it felt like being out there, coming back to civilization; you know, all that idealistic stuff.
Traveling in the wild places of North America has captivated me for years; there is little that can compare to it. After a few days of travel, you fall into the elemental simplicity of a trip like this. Life becomes easy as you get into the rhythm of the daily routine. Between adventures I tend to forget about this aspect of wilderness travel, but it comes back to me once I am out there and moving.
In the wilderness nature reins supreme and being engulf by it is an extraordinary feeling.
The places that the NPT passes through had a great effect on our experience. I had never been in the Silver Lake or West Canada Lake Wilderness Areas. I expected these areas to be special and they were. Exploring new territory is always exciting and I was not disappointed on this trip. Without a doubt, the last section of the trip was the most spectacular. For this reason alone I would recommend hiking the trail from south to north. Finishing up the trail by hiking along the Cold River and through the Western High Peaks left us with a remarkable final impression.
Probably the most beautiful place we visited along the trail was Wanaka Falls.
I was so struck by the beauty of the place that I felt like I was in Eden.
Unless you travel alone, group dynamics has an affect on every trip, even those in the front country. In the backcountry how members of a group interacts with each other plays an even bigger role. When living and traveling in close proximity to others it is easy to key in on their actions and attitudes, thus letting the little things bother you. The best trip to the most magnificent place can be ruined if people don’t get along. No trip is immune to this, but experienced outdoor travelers know that it can be controlled. In the backcountry the term we use for this is “Expedition Behavior”. Working to make a trip successful starts well before heading out, good route planning and communication are essential. Understanding other people’s expectations for a trip is important, so it helps if all members of the group know each other before hand. Sometimes that is not the case, so the pre-trip work is even more critical. Good food planning is vital as everyone has
likes, dislikes and unique dietary requirements. This issue alone has a huge impact on a trip.
I have a friend that claims there is no real wilderness in the Adirondacks. The claim is that in the Adirondacks you are never more than eight miles from a highway or other form of civilization. When you compare this to travel in the Far North where you are hundreds of miles from civilization, then the claim is true. Other people believe wilderness is in the eye (or mind) of the beholder. I certainly experienced the feeling of wilderness on this hike, but it is impossible to escape the contacts with civilization along this trail. Instead of viewing this as a negative aspect of the trip, we embraced the opportunities it provided. We enjoyed the contrast between these two worlds along the trail. We easily flowed from one to the other.
or over the next hill. Having been on many trips in the past I feel like I am finally coming to terms with the feelings I experience during the last days. If the trip has been successful, it is a time for reflection and celebration. Fortunately, on this trip that is how it ended for me.
After a trip like this people often ask what’s next. There is always a short answer that satisfies the question, but the longer answer is usually a little mysterious. In this case, for me, in a few weeks I’ll be headed to the Boundary
Water Canoe Wilderness Area in Minnesota with Jan and other friends. Leo has returned to Connecticut and adventures with his grandchildren, he and wife Linda will travel to Yosemite next month. The two of us have not fixed ours sights on a future adventure, but there are ideas floating around and it won’t be long before we get something on the books. In the meantime we will savor the NPT for awhile and dream of what might come.
I have received so much positive feedback on these blogs. The encouragement has kept me motivated to continue writing. Sharing a trip with others by writing about it or giving a presentation helps keep it alive for me. Thanks for reading; I look forward to sharing my future adventures with you.
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