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Thread: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

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    50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    I canít remember the name of the creek, if I ever knew it. I had crossed Elk Pass the afternoon before, walking west through the monster wall of the Bitterroot Mountains, headed for Hunter Peak and the Selway River far below, in no particular hurry. The creek fell away in a series of cascades, with a pool beneath each drop, and each touch of the elkhair caddis fly brought up a piranha-like swarm of six-inch cutthroats, some of them leaping clear of the water to attack the fly in the air. The trick was to keep it away from them, to dap the fly and let the frenzy build, until from deeper in the pool the bigger trout began to stir and rise. Sometimes, if you timed it just right, the big fish--ten inches, 12 at the most--would slam the fly just as it touched the water, and go rocketing away, thrashing, their brilliant yellows and blacks and reds catching the muted late summer light that fell through the big firs. I brought them to hand, unhooked them and slid them back into the water.

    The creek went on and on, pool after pool, fish after fish, as the afternoon waned to evening, and the dusk settled into the deep forest. Iíd find some place to sleep, and tomorrow Iíd follow the creek to the river, and walk downstream to Moose Creek, or the Salmon Hole. Or I might turn upriver and try to make it all the way to Magruder Crossing. Youth is reckless (I was in my late 20s), and we are all supposed to have a strict plan to follow in the backcountry, but I didnít have a plan then; didnít want one. This was the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness, an undiluted dose of pure freedom that could be had for nothing more than self-reliance and the price of a good pair of boots.
    Read more here: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act | Field & Stream

    The Wilderness Act celebrates its 50th year this year. I don't know how many people on here have spent any nights miles from the closest road or signs of civilization in the backcountry in one of our federal wilderness areas, but if you haven't you really are missing out.
    "You're the only person that decides how far you'll go and what you're capable of." - Ben Saunders (Explorer and Endurance Athlete)

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    It's also worth pointing out that the concept of protected wilderness is an American invention just like National Parks.
    "You're the only person that decides how far you'll go and what you're capable of." - Ben Saunders (Explorer and Endurance Athlete)

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    I've done the Pacific Crest Trail back when it was only Mexico to Canada. I celebrate that we've put aside some places for future generations to explore for themselves what it's like to be around more god made than man made things.

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    Quote Originally Posted by clownboy View Post
    I've done the Pacific Crest Trail back when it was only Mexico to Canada. I celebrate that we've put aside some places for future generations to explore for themselves what it's like to be around more god made than man made things.
    That's cool. How long did it take you? My son and I have done backpacking trips to Paddy Creek Federal Wilderness in Missouri, Devil's Backbone Federal Wilderness in Missouri, Buffalo River Federal Wilderness in Arkansas, Indian Peaks Federal Wilderness in Colorado, Holy Cross Federal Wilderness in Colorado, and Bridger Federal Wilderness in Wyoming. We go on a week long backpacking trip every summer and try to get some weekenders in throughout the year. My son did his first one with me when he was 4 and he is 13 now. The most remote place we have been to thus far is in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. If you take off walking east to west across the Winds, you will walk nearly 40 miles before you get to another road on the other side and that is if you could actually walk it in a perfectly straight line. Its pretty cool knowing you are at least a couple of days walk from the nearest road.

    Personally, I think that our wilderness in America is what defines us as a country more than anything else. Its unfortunate that so many people take it for granted these days and don't understand how hard previous generations had to work to for these areas to be protected.
    Last edited by SouthernDemocrat; 01-23-14 at 02:25 PM.
    "You're the only person that decides how far you'll go and what you're capable of." - Ben Saunders (Explorer and Endurance Athlete)

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    That all sounds so beautiful! The PCT took about 5-6 months of 25 mile a day hiking interspersed with some downtime to pick up our food boxes (you mail them ahead to Ranger stations along the trail). I would suggest skipping the first few hundred miles as they, even then, were not exactly a good advo for the trail. You have to drink out of the aquaduct and at night we'd get rousted from our tents by Border Patrol. Once you get to past that though the beauty begins.

    My favorite is up here in Oregon, it's why I settled here. The Three Sisters. First time there I met a grandfather, father and son doing a three generation hike. The lakes and streams are full of trout and kokanee (land locked salmon). Heck had to send my fishing pole home because I wasn't eating down my pack.

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    I once spent a week in the Three Sisters Primitive Area. It's very pretty. No roads, no electronics, no machinery. We went in on horseback. I still have some of the obsidian arrow heads I found there as souvenirs. It is or at least was possible to get 100 miles from a road. True wilderness.

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    Quote Originally Posted by fmw View Post
    I once spent a week in the Three Sisters Primitive Area. It's very pretty. No roads, no electronics, no machinery. We went in on horseback. I still have some of the obsidian arrow heads I found there as souvenirs. It is or at least was possible to get 100 miles from a road. True wilderness.
    It may have seemed that far from a road, but in terms of how the crow flies, the furthest one can get from a road in any direction in the lower 48 is a point in the Greater Yellowstone Region. At that point you can be at least 22 miles from a road in any direction (of course in some directions it would be far further).

    The only places in the United States you can get more than 100 miles from a road is in the Alaskan Interior. Its kind of sad when you think about it. There is a married couple who are both wildlife ecologists that are actually doing a project where they travel to and document the conditions and ecology of the most remote point in each of the 50 states. You can read about it here:

    Project Remote |

    Of course that all said, a road can be simply a forest service fire trail and there are still some very remote places left in the lower 48, many of them are thankfully protected from any future development.
    "You're the only person that decides how far you'll go and what you're capable of." - Ben Saunders (Explorer and Endurance Athlete)

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernDemocrat View Post
    It may have seemed that far from a road, but in terms of how the crow flies, the furthest one can get from a road in any direction in the lower 48 is a point in the Greater Yellowstone Region. At that point you can be at least 22 miles from a road in any direction (of course in some directions it would be far further).

    The only places in the United States you can get more than 100 miles from a road is in the Alaskan Interior. Its kind of sad when you think about it. There is a married couple who are both wildlife ecologists that are actually doing a project where they travel to and document the conditions and ecology of the most remote point in each of the 50 states. You can read about it here:

    Project Remote |

    Of course that all said, a road can be simply a forest service fire trail and there are still some very remote places left in the lower 48, many of them are thankfully protected from any future development.
    That may be true today but I was in the Three Sisters Area in in the 1950's. No question that it was 100 miles from the nearest road.

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    Quote Originally Posted by fmw View Post
    I once spent a week in the Three Sisters Primitive Area. It's very pretty. No roads, no electronics, no machinery. We went in on horseback. I still have some of the obsidian arrow heads I found there as souvenirs. It is or at least was possible to get 100 miles from a road. True wilderness.
    Used to be a debate about allowing horses in federal wilderness areas. Their poop introduces a number of plant species not native to the wilderness. In fact we were warned off of taking fresh tomatoes for the very same reason. I remember talking with Tom Winnett about it.

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    Re: 50 Years Later, the Incalculable Gift of the Wilderness Act

    Quote Originally Posted by fmw View Post
    That may be true today but I was in the Three Sisters Area in in the 1950's. No question that it was 100 miles from the nearest road.
    So cool! Did you happen to stop by Bagby hot springs while you were in the area?

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