United by Nature
The scent of damp pine after a hard rain, the sound of wind roaring through towering trees above, the sight of a deer and her fawn at the edge of the forest. When you envision stepping into nature, where do you go? Who do you go with?
This spring finds all of us navigating COVID 19, missing our family and friends, and longing for life to return to what it once was so we can find our way back to our favorite outdoor places. Until that happens, we have created this online wilderness community – a place to share photos of favorite outdoor places and the memories behind them. Please join us by sending a photo to Ingrid@wildernesslandtrust.org of an outdoor place and your favorite memory of the place and/or people who made it special for you.
We’re all in this together. #UnitedbyNature
Mt. Evans Wilderness, Colorado
For the last three years, we’ve headed up to the Mt. Evans Wilderness for a fourth of July hike. In wilderness, the trails are quiet and the wildflowers bloom in spectacular fashion. My hiking partners are toddlers. That means we stop to smell every flower, look under small rocks, watch the clouds roll by and listen for mountain critters. We don’t make it far enough down the trail to impede on anyone else’s solitude but we have our own full wilderness immersion not too far from the trailhead. We’re so fortunate to share wild places with our children as they are developing their first impressions of the world. We can only hope they too will fall in love with wilderness.
-Lisa Janeway, Evergreen, Colorado
Salmon River, Idaho
I am dreaming of the day my kiddo and I can once again spend a week rafting the Salmon River in Idaho. I love watching her tackle the rapids with a fearless abandon saved for the young. No matter how tired I get, I can never say no when she begs me to swim alongside the raft a half dozen times each day. At night, we love to pull our sleeping pads out of the tent and struggle to stay awake long enough to watch the starts light up the ink black sky. On most nights, I struggle a bit longer just so I can watch sleep settle over her face like a peaceful blanket. It’s so magical it makes my heart hurt.
This photo was taken one morning alongside the river. We found a large bullfrog burrowed under our dry bags in search of warmth from the chill night air, and I watched as my child gingerly cupped it in both hands and carried it to the safety of the water’s edge, then danced around the camp, overturning every piece of gear to rescue the dozens of bullfrogs that had sought warmth in the sand.
-Ingrid Ougland, Bainbridge Island, WA
Independence Pass, CO
This photo was taken on top of Independence Pass in Colorado the weekend before I headed off for my freshman year in college. I’m on my way to Blue Lake (an inholding acquired by The Wilderness Land Trust in 2002) with my fly rod and my overweight Corgi, hoping to catch a few elusive trout. I’m most at home in the upper reaches of Colorado’s high alpine, where life barely hangs on beneath the shelter of the surrounding peaks. I especially love Blue Lake in late August because the sun is warm, the fish are biting, and the wildflowers are still spectacular.
Wild and Scenic Selway River, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness
Wallace Stegner famously wrote, “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be … a part of the geography of hope.” As someone who can’t imagine staying away from wilderness for long, this quote has never spoken to me on a personal level… until now. Every April, my family would make the pilgrimage from our home in Missoula to the Wild and Scenic Selway River, the aorta of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, for our first backpacking trip of the year in the Northern Rockies. This spring, as we become armchair wilderness escapists in observance of stay at home orders, I have a new appreciation for how important it is to “simply” know that these wild places are there, even if we can only travel in our minds’-eyes.
Zack Porter, Montpelier, Vermont
Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho
There are many Goat Lakes out there. This one, located in the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho, is a touchstone in my life. This Goat Lake is close enough to a trailhead to be accessed in an afternoon but far enough and steep enough to allow for solitude and every year, my pup and I find our way up there. Now, there is another companion to introduce to Goat Lake. I might not be able to get my daughter up there as soon as I’d like but from my shelter here in Pocatello, I can start planning and when the time comes that bans are lifted and travel to remote rural places are welcome again, this is the first place we’ll go.
Kelly Conde, Pocatello, ID
Pacific Crest Trail
This is me in 2019 on the PCT Section J Day 5: High on life as far as the eye can see! “Rest not life is sweeping by go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.” – Goethe
Amanda Kasuboski, Bainbridge Island, WA
Waimea Canyon, Kaua'i
Daniel Jackson and Ryan Horn
“Remember, happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.” Waimea Canyon in Kaua’i, HI offered the best landscape to disconnect, roam free, and celebrate love. The prize at the end of the hike was a masterpiece, but getting lost along the way is the best part. This trip in July 2019 represents a mixture of celebrations that will be felt for a lifetime. Stay wild.
Daniel Jackson and Ryan Horn, Bainbridge Island, WA
This photo was taken by a fellow rafter on a multi-day Grand Canyon river trip. It was one of the final stops along the river and I was taking the time to reflect and soak it all in. I find myself going back to this spot in my mind often the past few weeks.
-Karen Bennett, Pennsylvania
Camp Sherman, Oregon
This photo of me fly fishing with my brother-in-law Todd was taken on a rare summer vacation with my whole family in Camp Sherman, Oregon in 2015. One of my mother’s passions is fly fishing, and this trip represented the last time she was able to fly fish due to arthritis. It was also the last vacation with Todd’s father, who passed away suddenly soon after.
This was just a special family trip that came with the realization that we never know when loved ones will be taken from us, and we should appreciate living in the here and now because that’s really all we have.
Gratitude and living in the present are my biggest takeaways right now. After the Covid 19 isolation ends, I most look forward to seeing my parents and family again. I live just a mile from them and yet they’re so far away right now. They are in their 80’s and I know my time with them is limited as it is.
Karen Aparicio, Redmond, WA
Little Jacks Creek Wilderness, Idaho
I took my six-year-old twin girls to the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness in Idaho for their first overnight wilderness backpacking trip. Families didn’t always have access here. With the help of the Wilderness Land Trust, ‘No Trespassing’ signs have been replaced with trailhead signs.
-John Robison, Boise, ID
Silver Gate, Montana
Amanda Rose Clampitt
This is Silver Gate, Montana, where I was fortunate to live for six months. Notice how the snow seems pristine, untouched. One of my favorite things about fresh snow is the silence it creates, and it’s within that silence that I find the ability to clear my mind and breathe deeply. Perhaps the solitude of silence is my favorite aspect of the natural world, and in a time where solitude is forced and creates a new realm of loneliness and isolation, it’s relieving to reflect back on the times I felt so very small and alone, but in an invigorating way.
-Amanda Rose Clampitt, Hartford, Tennessee
Pacific Northwest Coast
JJ, Jamie and Mahina
Me, my partner Jamie and our adventure dog Mahina love going to the Pacific Northwest coast ocean beaches to be away from human influences and bathe in the sounds, smells, and vibration of the ocean. Our favorite spot is currently ‘Short Sands’ – a 15 minute meditative walk down an old-growth forest path that gradually takes you away from the sounds of Highway 101, and deeper into the primordial sense of a place that hasn’t changed much for centuries. We have to drag ourselves back to “reality” after spending many hours simply losing track of time under the watch of the sleeping dragon. And the weather is always perfect. It’s literally magical.
JJ, Jamie and Mahina, Bainbridge Island, WA
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
The paved walkways at Paradise on Mount Rainier are there to protect the fragile Alpine meadows; they also make the stunning views available to people who use a variety of mobility devices.
Marsha Cutting, Bainbridge Island, WA
Salmon River, Idaho
This picture is from the Salmon River in Idaho after six days of rafting and writing with a small group of wonderful people. This is my expression of pure joy!
Tracy Herring, Seattle, WA
Lower Sardine Lake, CA
When Katie and her family aren’t quarantined, they gather their cousins together in the summer and take a family trip. Last summer these cousins had a blast together in Graegle, California at lower Sardine Lake.
Katie Birge, Sacramento, California
Sandia Mountains Wilderness, NM
“Lung and Soul check—solitude more valuable than ever.” During quarantine, Aimee says she continues to seek solo time outside.
-Aimee Rutledge, New Mexico