In honor of Valentine’s Day I am writing about my love for the wilderness. Nothing makes me happier than exploring in the wilderness. When I get busy or the weather for several weekends in a row is not ideal, I have withdrawals. It literally depresses me when I can’t get outside for a long period of time.
The wilderness is a place I can be myself and not have to worry about what other’s think or expect of me. I love being wrapped in its beauty. There are numerous reasons why I love national parks, national forests, and other public lands. The following seven reasons are probably the biggest aspects of public lands that I love.
1. The beauty
It is easy to be in love with the wilderness when it is simply just so beautiful. I can sit on a mountain top or in a valley by a river and be completely content. I love taking in the beauty of nature.
There is so much that it will never get old to me. I love climbing mountains, paddling through swamps, walking along sandy beaches – as well as rocky beaches. There is just so much beauty. I can go on and on all day.
2. The solitude
Another reason I go out into nature is to get away from the crowds and enjoy the solitude. It is so peaceful to be surrounded by all the beauty nature offers and have it all to yourself. You can think and focus on who you are as person. Or you can have great quality time with a best friend or loved one.
The best Valentine’s Day I have ever had was when my former boyfriend and I drove around exploring the wilderness. I loved seeing new terrain and exploring new paths in the woods. We did not see a single person all day. There is something amazing to the feeling of being deep in the woods and having it all to yourself.
3. No judgement – no shower, no problem
The wilderness does not judge. I confess, one thing I love about spending a week in the wilderness is that I don’t have to shower, do my hair, or wear makeup. The wilderness does not care what I look like. It is completely forgiving. Now, my loved ones care. When I have gotten back from an excursion smelling awful, I do not get as many hugs.
When you are in the wilderness, what society says we are supposed to be does not matter. I love not caring what I look like, what I smell like, or what I sound like. (I talk to myself and my dog a lot when I’m alone.)
4. It makes me love my bed and food even more
After sleeping on the ground for days on end, coming home to my big fluffy bed is one of the most amazing feelings. It’s pretty magical that first night in a bed, when I pile pillows up around me and veg out in front of the TV. After an epic hike when my muscles are all very sore, this is an especially magical feeling.
Eating real food is just as magical. When you eat the same three flavors of Mountain House all week, being able eat something different, or at least eat a fresh salad, is amazing. Normal food just taste so much better after you have been deep in the wilderness for days on end.
5. It also makes me love climate control
Also when you spend a lot of time deep in the backcountry, you come to love climate control. I have been so tired of being cold so many times I can’t count them. The same goes for being hot. There was one camping trip when it was so hot, I slept outside the tent and didn’t care if bugs carried me away or if I got rained on.
While on a backpacking trip in Michigan, Lagena and I were attacked by swarms of flies. It was miserable! Actually, I kept saying it was the most miserable I had ever been. But when the wind shifted, the swarms left, and the feeling of not being covered in flies was glorious. Depriving yourself of comforts by spending days in the wilderness make you appreciate every-day life so much better.
6. Love myself and my ability
Lastly, I love pushing myself to a new limit and completing a challenge. Whether it is a harder trail, a longer trail, a harder mountain to climb, or simply trying something new, I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish it. It also helps me take pride in myself. And that boosts my self esteem. When you love yourself, you are a happier person.
7. Showing my love for the wilderness
So I realized that the way I love the wilderness is kind of the same way that I love people. And because I love it so much, I care deeply about its health. The ways I show my love for the wilderness is to use public lands. I know it seems kind of silly to pay admission to a national park when it belongs to the public. But these entry fees, camping fees, and other ways the parks collect money help preserve our national parks and other public lands.
Other ways include volunteer for cleanups, recycling, and using my voice to speak on its behalf. There are also some great organizations to get involved with, like the National Park Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy, and many more, that help protect our public lands and preserve them for future generation.
What do you love about the wilderness? How to do you show it?