Bearing Witness to the Wilderness

At the center of genuine wilderness adventure there is a capacity for silence, listening, and receiving. Adventure is not just about adrenalin and excitement. It is also about bearing witness.

To bear witness to the wilderness means to see and to hear and to feel and to sense many types of “unfolding“.

To witness the unfolding of:
  • the weather and the seasons
  • the territory as I move through it
  • my body as it responds to the demands of the trip
  • the sky as it turns from day to night, and from night to day
  • the comings and goings of the local wildlife
  • all manner of natural phenomena and apparitions

Here are some examples of the unfoldings in picture form:

aftermath of a snow storm in July 2011

Cataract Pass area, Jasper National Park

Canadian Rockies

fresh avalanche debris in May 2008

Rock Lake, Mt. Assiniboine area

Canadian Rockies

forest fire haze, August 2015

North Buhl area, South-Central Purcells

(and I’m still 2 days from the pick-up point!)

a surly moose, July 2010

Leman Lake area, Banff National Park

Canadian Rockies

Grizzly bear print in the snow, May 2008

Ferro Pass, Mt. Assiniboine area

Canadian Rockies

fossils, August 2011

North White River Basin

Canadian Rockies

receding glacier, August 2007

Elk Lakes Provincial Park

Canadian Rockies

(We should be concerned!)

the larches turning gold, September 2021

Top of the World Provincial Park

Canadian Rockies

the night sky through the forest, September 2020

Height-of-the-Rockies Provincial Park

Upper White River (Middle Fork)

Canadian Rockies

There are many things to see and hear and feel in the wilderness. And they all have a message — but only if I am ready to listen, only if I am ready to receive.

Top of the World, Canadian Rockies, September 2021. “Ready to receive”.

  • I am indebted to some of the writings of R.T. Allen in a book titled “The Philosophy of Leisure” (1989) for the connection between leisure (adventure) and listening.

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