What Does Wilderness Mean to You?

As Told by 2017 PCT Hikers

  "Anything away from civilization and amenities that you get in normal life."    -Karen "Wang" Wang

"Anything away from civilization and amenities that you get in normal life."

-Karen "Wang" Wang

  Wilderness means being able to go somewhere untouched by man. Just taking nature for what it is and isn't intended for, and not having it marred by mans creations.    -Alex “Caboose” Hostetler

Wilderness means being able to go somewhere untouched by man. Just taking nature for what it is and isn't intended for, and not having it marred by mans creations.

-Alex “Caboose” Hostetler

  Wilderness means stripping away all life as I know it in order to learn who I am at the core.    -Frances Hong

Wilderness means stripping away all life as I know it in order to learn who I am at the core.

-Frances Hong

  I'm still figuring out what wilderness really means after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Wilderness escapes definition, it's something far greater than us, something humbling and exquisite but equally indifferent. When I spend too much time in the city now (which is almost always) I start to feel very trapped and tense and anxious and I wonder if everyone who lives in the city feels this way and just can't identify why. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to disappear into the wilderness for months at a time, so I try not to take wilderness for granted, wherever I find it. And you can find it in unexpected places, graveyards, backyards, the cracks in sidewalks, it doesn't always have to be on this grand, expansive scale but whatever and wherever it is, it's worth protecting.     -Emily Benington

I'm still figuring out what wilderness really means after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Wilderness escapes definition, it's something far greater than us, something humbling and exquisite but equally indifferent. When I spend too much time in the city now (which is almost always) I start to feel very trapped and tense and anxious and I wonder if everyone who lives in the city feels this way and just can't identify why. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to disappear into the wilderness for months at a time, so I try not to take wilderness for granted, wherever I find it. And you can find it in unexpected places, graveyards, backyards, the cracks in sidewalks, it doesn't always have to be on this grand, expansive scale but whatever and wherever it is, it's worth protecting.


-Emily Benington

  After the trail I have formed several images of my experience of wilderness: 3am hiking through antelope valley, walking among mountains through flowered fields with dandelion seeds blowing by me, wearing a tee shirt surrounded by snow in the sierras 3 days hike from the nearest road. Though I was not hounded by hungry hunters nor was I farther than fifteen miles from another individual, I still found a feeling of wilderness. Whether it was reflecting on my motives to drive me forward, biting into raw garlic to distract me from the pain in my feet, repeating a self made mantra “always moving forward” until the phrase made no sense and then repeating it until it meant everything. I found a personal wilderness in only having comforts intrinsically and in what I brought with me.    -Tobias “Timber” Hall

After the trail I have formed several images of my experience of wilderness: 3am hiking through antelope valley, walking among mountains through flowered fields with dandelion seeds blowing by me, wearing a tee shirt surrounded by snow in the sierras 3 days hike from the nearest road. Though I was not hounded by hungry hunters nor was I farther than fifteen miles from another individual, I still found a feeling of wilderness. Whether it was reflecting on my motives to drive me forward, biting into raw garlic to distract me from the pain in my feet, repeating a self made mantra “always moving forward” until the phrase made no sense and then repeating it until it meant everything. I found a personal wilderness in only having comforts intrinsically and in what I brought with me.

-Tobias “Timber” Hall

     Wilderness is a place I can go to escape the stresses of everyday life.  I can spend the day hiking and exploring areas I have never seen and may never see again.  It’s the only place I can sit back and admire the beauty of the Earth. Out in the Wilderness also where time doesn’t matter and I can just listen to my body.  There is no set wake-up, meal-time, or bedtime. If I want to spend some time looking at a cool rock formation then so be it. I have no appointments to keep out there.  The Wilderness is my absolute favorite place to be in the world.     -Brett “Bread” Nellis

 

Wilderness is a place I can go to escape the stresses of everyday life.  I can spend the day hiking and exploring areas I have never seen and may never see again.  It’s the only place I can sit back and admire the beauty of the Earth. Out in the Wilderness also where time doesn’t matter and I can just listen to my body.  There is no set wake-up, meal-time, or bedtime. If I want to spend some time looking at a cool rock formation then so be it. I have no appointments to keep out there.  The Wilderness is my absolute favorite place to be in the world.


-Brett “Bread” Nellis

  To me, the wilderness is a place that is wild, left relatively untouched by humans, and away from the noise and bustle of civilization. It’s a place you can go to “get away” and find peace or solace. I think wilderness can be found really in any outdoor space — your favorite running/hiking trail or mountain peak or an area you’ve never explored before. The wilderness are those beautiful outdoor spaces that bring you complete and utter joy and help you remember the simple things that are most important to you.                          -Mamie "Xtra-tuf" Clare

To me, the wilderness is a place that is wild, left relatively untouched by humans, and away from the noise and bustle of civilization. It’s a place you can go to “get away” and find peace or solace. I think wilderness can be found really in any outdoor space — your favorite running/hiking trail or mountain peak or an area you’ve never explored before. The wilderness are those beautiful outdoor spaces that bring you complete and utter joy and help you remember the simple things that are most important to you.               

-Mamie "Xtra-tuf" Clare

  The wilderness is a beautiful mixture of freedom and adventure.  A place where nothing else matters, but it's a good thing. All you are is all you are; no outside influences can direct your actions.  It is a place that enables you to be your truer self.    -Justin "2Taps" Helmkamp

The wilderness is a beautiful mixture of freedom and adventure.  A place where nothing else matters, but it's a good thing. All you are is all you are; no outside influences can direct your actions.  It is a place that enables you to be your truer self.

-Justin "2Taps" Helmkamp

  If you're in the wilderness you're stripped of life's distractions and temptations. The only important thing you have to do is just BE — that's wilderness.     -Lexy “Whatever” Lexy

If you're in the wilderness you're stripped of life's distractions and temptations. The only important thing you have to do is just BE — that's wilderness.


-Lexy “Whatever” Lexy

  To me, wilderness is summed up in three words: freedom, beauty and simplicity.     -Tamar

To me, wilderness is summed up in three words: freedom, beauty and simplicity.


-Tamar

  Thinking about all the places that humans have permanently altered in the world, I find myself thankful for wilderness. Wilderness means free from permanent traces of people. Wilderness means natural and that care is taken to maintain the naturalness. Wilderness means a place you should be a little afraid of. Not in a bad way, but in a way that makes it special and different from the comforts of developed places. Wilderness means you need to be self-sufficient because help isn't around the corner. Wilderness means you might not be the top of the food chain.    -Kelly “Chainsaw” Wood

Thinking about all the places that humans have permanently altered in the world, I find myself thankful for wilderness. Wilderness means free from permanent traces of people. Wilderness means natural and that care is taken to maintain the naturalness. Wilderness means a place you should be a little afraid of. Not in a bad way, but in a way that makes it special and different from the comforts of developed places. Wilderness means you need to be self-sufficient because help isn't around the corner. Wilderness means you might not be the top of the food chain.

-Kelly “Chainsaw” Wood

  Wilderness is escaping. For me, wilderness means there isn't pressure. This may sound funny, but I hear better when I'm in nature. I also don't feel obligated to focus on anything in wilderness and, unlike the rest of the world we've wedged ourselves into, that's an advantage. I can move from a smell to a sound to looking at a tree to a marmot to my feet and back and forth through that whole sequence a million times and there isn't anything I'm suppose to do. My last thought on it is something I think about often. One of the main reasons I hiked the AT in 2011 was because my grandpa passed away and I needed an escape, but in the last few days with my grandpa I remember him just staring at this butterfly bush with butterflies coming and going and he was smiling. He was at peace. So maybe that's what I think wilderness is, peace.    -Stephen “Youngin” McNeal

Wilderness is escaping. For me, wilderness means there isn't pressure. This may sound funny, but I hear better when I'm in nature. I also don't feel obligated to focus on anything in wilderness and, unlike the rest of the world we've wedged ourselves into, that's an advantage. I can move from a smell to a sound to looking at a tree to a marmot to my feet and back and forth through that whole sequence a million times and there isn't anything I'm suppose to do. My last thought on it is something I think about often. One of the main reasons I hiked the AT in 2011 was because my grandpa passed away and I needed an escape, but in the last few days with my grandpa I remember him just staring at this butterfly bush with butterflies coming and going and he was smiling. He was at peace. So maybe that's what I think wilderness is, peace.

-Stephen “Youngin” McNeal

     There is no simple answer to what wilderness means to me. In fact, for me there is, and should be, no answer to that question. In defining wilderness you implicitly set restrictions on what wilderness could be and what it could mean to you. To me it means something different every day; a meaning which evolves over time and absorbs new aspects as I spend more time marvelling at its challenging, beckoning, beauty.    -Marc "Double D" Hansen

 

There is no simple answer to what wilderness means to me. In fact, for me there is, and should be, no answer to that question. In defining wilderness you implicitly set restrictions on what wilderness could be and what it could mean to you. To me it means something different every day; a meaning which evolves over time and absorbs new aspects as I spend more time marvelling at its challenging, beckoning, beauty.

-Marc "Double D" Hansen

  Wilderness is solitude in nature. It doesn’t have to be trees. You could be in a desert wilderness. I think a lot of people's minds go to mountains and trees when you mention wilderness, but I think it’s anywhere that you can find solitude outdoors and not have the luxuries of civilization close-by — just being out there at the mercy of the elements and having to fend for yourself.    -Andrew “Reptar” Forestell

Wilderness is solitude in nature. It doesn’t have to be trees. You could be in a desert wilderness. I think a lot of people's minds go to mountains and trees when you mention wilderness, but I think it’s anywhere that you can find solitude outdoors and not have the luxuries of civilization close-by — just being out there at the mercy of the elements and having to fend for yourself.

-Andrew “Reptar” Forestell

  Wilderness is a palindrome. It is a place which knows no bounds, yet resides in simplicity. Simultaneously, wilderness boasts its uniqueness and complexity. It may be a home for those who wander, who seek something that was once lost, or maybe nothing at all. It is the wisdom found only in meditation beneath the swaying of treetops on the breeze and through the whistle of birdsong. It is what one might see in his past or her future, his heart or her soul. It is infinite. Wilderness is poetic, resilient, and pure. Above all, wilderness is a place of unimaginable, enduring beauty.     -Mitch “Dutch” Lenington

Wilderness is a palindrome. It is a place which knows no bounds, yet resides in simplicity. Simultaneously, wilderness boasts its uniqueness and complexity. It may be a home for those who wander, who seek something that was once lost, or maybe nothing at all. It is the wisdom found only in meditation beneath the swaying of treetops on the breeze and through the whistle of birdsong. It is what one might see in his past or her future, his heart or her soul. It is infinite. Wilderness is poetic, resilient, and pure. Above all, wilderness is a place of unimaginable, enduring beauty.

-Mitch “Dutch” Lenington

  Wilderness is a repository of what life really is. When wilderness is gone, you can get new wilderness -- but you have to stop doing things there for a thousand years, and then maybe there will be wilderness again. So its uh.... yeah it's like the most precious freakin thing on the planet. That's what wilderness is — something worth protecting.     -Patrick “Strange Bird” Wilson”

Wilderness is a repository of what life really is. When wilderness is gone, you can get new wilderness -- but you have to stop doing things there for a thousand years, and then maybe there will be wilderness again. So its uh.... yeah it's like the most precious freakin thing on the planet. That's what wilderness is — something worth protecting.


-Patrick “Strange Bird” Wilson”

  Sanctuary is the perfect word for what wilderness is. A Sanctuary. To further define that I would say that it's life in the moment, you fully exist in the here and now and the present. There's no distractions, you don't have the chaos of life.    -Ryan "Kodak" Brown

Sanctuary is the perfect word for what wilderness is. A Sanctuary. To further define that I would say that it's life in the moment, you fully exist in the here and now and the present. There's no distractions, you don't have the chaos of life.

-Ryan "Kodak" Brown

  Wilderness is outside, and is far from the sounds, smells and reaches of major population centers. But I believe that wilderness does include people. In fact, that was part of the beauty for me on the trail. Each day, I moved through new wilderness, temporarily immersing myself in a unique, balanced and seemingly infinitely complex environment. I had become a part of the wilderness around me.     -  Sam “Gandalf Mcgough

Wilderness is outside, and is far from the sounds, smells and reaches of major population centers. But I believe that wilderness does include people. In fact, that was part of the beauty for me on the trail. Each day, I moved through new wilderness, temporarily immersing myself in a unique, balanced and seemingly infinitely complex environment. I had become a part of the wilderness around me.

-Sam “Gandalf Mcgough

  Wilderness means beautiful, natural solitude where anything can happen - extreme weather, dangerous animals, hazardous crossings - but rugged stillness reigns.    -Eve "Gimpy" Connell

Wilderness means beautiful, natural solitude where anything can happen - extreme weather, dangerous animals, hazardous crossings - but rugged stillness reigns.

-Eve "Gimpy" Connell

  Wilderness has the amazing ability to shut anyone off from the outside world. Whether you are on a 2, a 20, or a 2000 mile hike, the second you step into the wild you forget all the stimuli that you are otherwise faced with on a daily basis. The beauty of nature takes you over and you get a sense of peacefulness. That is what wilderness is to me.    -Hélène "the Kraken" Van de Vyver

Wilderness has the amazing ability to shut anyone off from the outside world. Whether you are on a 2, a 20, or a 2000 mile hike, the second you step into the wild you forget all the stimuli that you are otherwise faced with on a daily basis. The beauty of nature takes you over and you get a sense of peacefulness. That is what wilderness is to me.

-Hélène "the Kraken" Van de Vyver

  Wilderness is a place where you can get away from everything, survive,  and see spectacular things that not a lot of people see.     -Olivia “Little Toaster” Shoultz

Wilderness is a place where you can get away from everything, survive,  and see spectacular things that not a lot of people see.

-Olivia “Little Toaster” Shoultz

  Wilderness is the escape from the ordinary. It’s the crunch of sticks and dirt under your feet. It’s the smell of evergreen in your nose or fresh honeysuckle on a summer day. It’s being far removed from the sounds of cars, trucks, horns and sirens.     Wilderness is a place to find yourself. It’s being alone with your thoughts.     Wilderness is leaving the past behind and living in the moment. It’s being present in creation and knowing how small you really are.     Wilderness is so much larger than we are. It’s larger than a city. It’s larger than a movement. Wilderness is its own entity. It does not need us but welcomes us. It welcomes us to enjoy, laugh, let loose and renew again.     Wilderness demands respect and preservation.     This is what wilderness means to me.    -Josh “Jingle” Snead

Wilderness is the escape from the ordinary. It’s the crunch of sticks and dirt under your feet. It’s the smell of evergreen in your nose or fresh honeysuckle on a summer day. It’s being far removed from the sounds of cars, trucks, horns and sirens.

Wilderness is a place to find yourself. It’s being alone with your thoughts.

Wilderness is leaving the past behind and living in the moment. It’s being present in creation and knowing how small you really are.

Wilderness is so much larger than we are. It’s larger than a city. It’s larger than a movement. Wilderness is its own entity. It does not need us but welcomes us. It welcomes us to enjoy, laugh, let loose and renew again.

Wilderness demands respect and preservation.

This is what wilderness means to me.

-Josh “Jingle” Snead

  Wilderness represents purity of peace. It’s a place that heals the mind, body, and soul. It’s a place you can go to be cleansed of the toxicity that can be generated by human civilization. It reminds you of what true peace really is. It’s the kind of peace that we all as a human race should strive for.    -Krystian “Snap” Repolona

Wilderness represents purity of peace. It’s a place that heals the mind, body, and soul. It’s a place you can go to be cleansed of the toxicity that can be generated by human civilization. It reminds you of what true peace really is. It’s the kind of peace that we all as a human race should strive for.

-Krystian “Snap” Repolona