Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
Log in
You are here: Home Users Nathan Borson True Wilderness Solitude

True Wilderness Solitude

My favorite recreation is going where people have not been -- or at least where I can feel like people have not been because

  • I don't see other people out there
  • I don't see human trails, footprints, signs, or artifacts.
  • I haven't heard or read about someone else's trip there

That's where I experience true wilderness solitude. That's where my companion(s) (if any) and I can make our own personal discoveries and enjoy a real sense of adventure.

“True wilderness solitude”

…means finding neither people, nor signs of people.


True wilderness solitude can't be explained; it can't be digitized; it can only be experienced. We cannot own it, encapsulate it, or control it, much less create it (but we can preserve it). It lives outside us. It is the world that cares nothing for us or our civilization but has its own life, its own purpose, and its own destiny independent of our plans and values. But it is vulnerable. If we touch it ever so lightly, if we leave any trace of ourselves, if we are there more than a few times a year, it is gone.

Two roads diverged in the wood, and I — I took neither! I left the road and on game trails and in thickets I found neither people nor signs of people. I found true wilderness solitude and my own personal discoveries. I found an un-mapped lake, a tidal slough, a berry patch, a river otter's den. I found a way where I didn't know there would be one. I found impassable obstacles where I had imagined there might be a route. I found peace in the daily rhythms of night and day. I felt free and strong and happy.

Unfortunately, it's increasingly difficult to find true wilderness solitude. If we aren't faced with roads, mines, and clear cuts, it's trails, signs, cabins, guide books, and magazine articles. Opportunities to experience true wilderness solitude are increasingly rare and endangered because:

  • Most people (including most who manage our public lands) have never experienced true wilderness solitude, so they don't even know what they're missing; it's like depriving pre-contact Eskimos of trees: they wouldn't know they were gone. It's hard to protect and preserve opportunities that no one sees or knows about.
  • It doesn't take much human use (no matter how low-impact) to eliminate true wilderness solitude. If I see someone, or even someone's footprints, it takes away from the experience of being completely out of contact with people. My attention is drawn away from the wildlife, topography, and natural history of the area to observation and speculation about the other humans who have been there before us. Something is lost in knowing that we are not first, that we may not be alone with the non-human inhabitants of the area.

More wild ideas:

Wilderness links at Peak to Peak