I’ve always loved wilderness. The outdoors, sure, but wilderness above and beyond that. There’s something about being in these barren, hostile environments, with the raw beauty of nature and a vast open sky, that’s refreshing, and liberating, and invigorating, all at the same time.
Wilderness is a pretty subjective concept. I like the above-photo because it captures a rugged and wild landscape- although anybody who knows Death Valley knows that the Mesquite Dunes aren’t ‘wilderness’ in the true sense of the word. A 30-minute walk from a highway got me this shot, and it’s only ten minutes’ drive from there to Stovepipe Wells, twenty to Furnace Creek. Neither one a bustling metropolis mind, these are settlements in one of the hottest and most unwelcoming biomes on the planet, and [as I found out after flirting with hyperthermia the day prior to this morning shoot] the landscape definitely has the potential to harm those who don’t respect it. But it doesn’t have the notion of wilderness that some of the places I have travelled to have, such as hiking or skiing deep into the interior of the Alberta Rockies, or several days’ four-wheel-drive into the Sahara desert in northern Niger, or Mauritania. These are some of the truly wild places. And knowing some of you who view these pages, I know some of you share my passion for these places and can list off your own little corners of the rugged isolation and beauty that planet Earth offers those who go looking for it.
Getting to places like that tend to rare treats, for those of us stuck in a western paradigm of living. But they’re certainly highlights for me when I look back over the last decade or so of travel I’ve been privileged enough to do.