Friday, December 5, 2008

Wild Places

What are wild places? I used to think know, WILDERNESS. The big expanses of undeveloped land in the named and lawfully set aside Wilderness areas.

But there is the wild that lives in us, the feelings that mark our experience of the wild. And the feelings are not tied to named Wilderness areas. Sometimes they come out, surprise, with the sight of a wild bird in a fairly tame forest patch.

The wet underside of Bainbridge Island is wild. I've seen enough of it to know for certain. Underwater touring has taken me through a lot of water, and I've seen a lot of ocean bottom in my 8-some miles so far. I'm savoring the find of a wild world all my own, to be reached just by plopping off the beach and moving 100 feet offshore.

Give me fifteen spare minutes and a plunge underwater, and I can have a getaway that's as wild as most Wilderness hikes. Now that's a find.

The photo above right shows the wild water of the point between Rockaway Beach and Blakely Harbor, home of the tubesnout crew (see day 8). In the far background is wild Mt. Ranier, just peeking over wooded Blake Island.

I'm reading a book called "The Wild Places" by Robert Macfarlane. It's an adventure with a question at it's heart:

Are there any genuinely wild places left in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales? That is the question that writer Robert Macfarlane poses to himself as he embarks on a series of breathtaking and beautifully described journeys through some of the archipelago's most remarkable landscapes.
I picked it up as an accompaniment to my swim, and I've found it influential.

Macrarlane talks about the various wilds that he finds in England, and he finds his picture of what's wild changing dramatically as he moves through his adventure.

It's a good companion to my adventure, and I'm lucky to have found it.

1 comment:

nearshorepaddler said...

That sounds like an interesting book. In 2001 I traveled through England, and while on the train north to Carlisle, I had this urge to get off and start walking through the hills. I have lived my entire life in the Northwest, where conifers hide the terrain from view, and here was a place where mountains and hills were open and bare- it was very enticing.

Another book you may appreciate is the The Island Within, by Richard Nelson. He writes about an attempt much like your own, except that he is exploring the many faces of an island at and above the shoreline.

Love your project, what a great idea!

I have a kayak and an old canoe, and am wondering if there are places where you'd like topside support? I teach and live in Bremerton, so I couldn't do spur of the moment outings, but thought I'd ask. The canoe especially, might help with a tricky access point.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your adventure!