The Elysian Fields

By Michael Lipsky

CathyFor many years I had wanted to return to the Elysian Fields, an off-trail backcountry area of trackless meadows in the Mount Rainier Wilderness within Mount Rainier National Park. The opportunity arose when I joined my son, Josh, and three of his friends on a backpacking trip a few years after they graduated from college. 

Recent Comments
Guest — Howie Wolke
Good job, Michael! Be well! Howie
Friday, 24 June 2022 09:57
Guest — Miroslav Demajo
A nice account of an adventure. Reminds me of my younger years when i climbed and camped in the lovely mountains of Kosovo, Monten... Read More
Thursday, 23 June 2022 23:15
Guest — Al Webster
Thanks for giving the great advice regarding turning around - many of the SAR missions we have here in the Rockies involve people ... Read More
Wednesday, 22 June 2022 13:17
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Hulahula River Pingo

By Frank Keim


We’re camped on the Hulahula River,

and after dinner

on a balmy night

five of us marched like caribou

single file


along a narrow animal trail 

to a tall pingo

sculpted long ago from ancient ice melt,

Recent Comments
Guest — Dorothy
Beautifully written, with vivid images, thank you
Sunday, 21 November 2021 17:48
Guest — Dan Schmidt
A lovely painted picture
Sunday, 21 November 2021 11:20
Guest — Kathy Gosselin
Please support this beautiful river.
Sunday, 21 November 2021 07:14
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Turning back is never easy, but sometimes the best decision

By Brett Haverstick

BrettMarty met us at the Bear Creek Trailhead at 9 a.m. We left my car in the lot, and she shuttled us over to Blodgett. Tim and I unloaded our packs, and went over our itinerary one last time. We expected to be back at Bear Creek in 5-6 days and then drive my car home.

Recent Comments
Guest — Brett Haverstick
Thank you everyone for reading this story. Appreciate all the positive feedback, and please consider submitting an essay of your o... Read More
Monday, 25 October 2021 15:29
Guest — Steve
Sorry that You had to change plans, but always enjoy the story and how you could change those plans and make for a great outing, d... Read More
Monday, 25 October 2021 09:38
Guest — Kenny Driver
Sounds like a beautiful and horrible camping trip all at once. I'm sure you'll never forget it.
Sunday, 24 October 2021 11:02
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Solitude in the River of No Return Wilderness…until all the motorboats

By Brett Haverstick

BrettI arrived at the Corn Creek trailhead about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. The sun was still hot, and the river canyon felt like an oven, particularly for May. After a few hours of hiking along the trail, I reached Horse Creek, a small tributary of the Salmon River. The creek was loud and brimming bank-to-bank with spring runoff. I decided to cross the creek using the foot-bridge—it was the wrong time of the year to wade into the water and attempt a stream crossing!

Recent Comments
Guest — Alan Coffel
I took my family to float the Hells Canyon in 2020. The upper section was wonderful, but the lower section was ruined by the jet b... Read More
Monday, 14 February 2022 10:31
Guest — Dena maguire young
Please do not allow bikes and motorized anything in this area. They tear up the woods and can scare wildlife and destroy the peac... Read More
Saturday, 18 September 2021 10:37
Guest — Connie Kirkham
I sign so many petitions that fight to keep our wild lands and wildlife, yet I don’t mind because I really want to keep nature and... Read More
Thursday, 02 September 2021 23:21
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Lost in the Winds

by Harriet Greene


Howie WolkeWind River Range, Bridger Wilderness, Pinedale, Wyoming: 
The West was drier than it had been in years. Two nearby fires were almost under control. Elkhart Park was closed as well as the south entrance to Yellowstone, nowhere near our direction. After thirteen hours on the road we arrived at our friend’s home in Jackson Hole where we would spend the night. Our gear was unloaded, our food figured out, our backpacks packed and our age-old list, checked off, making sure everything was in order for an early departure in the morning.
In Hoback Canyon, ten miles south of Jackson, fire-fighting camps lined the highway  and heavy smoke obscured the landscape. As the haze cleared, two sandhill cranes materialized in a meadow and watched us drive by, unconcerned at all the activity around them. 
Recent Comments
Guest — Theresa DeLuca
Keep nature clean, quiet, and unspoiled! The way it should be!
Friday, 27 August 2021 18:00
Guest — Theresa DeLuca
Nature must be left alone. It has worked for centuries until motorized vehicles and uncaring humans started interfering with it!... Read More
Thursday, 26 August 2021 12:29
Guest — Theresa DeLuca
Correction: on this Planet!
Friday, 27 August 2021 17:55
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The Boundary Waters

by Suez Jacobson

Howie WolkeA long wait – almost 50 years – to learn

How deeply and completely

The wild magic of the Boundary Waters

Could burrow.

A self-identified mountain girl

Lost to still, flat black water

Contained by granite outcroppings

Layered in midnight green pines

Topped with iridescent spring birches.


Recent Comments
Guest — Ken Martin
Great News!!!
Tuesday, 29 June 2021 16:32
Guest — William Hilliker
I wish there were some pictures to accompany the Boundary Waters post. I've wanted to go there for about 50 years.
Wednesday, 02 June 2021 19:11
Guest — Mary Townsend
I could feel the silence as I read this. It reminds me of a trip my family took to a national forest several years ago. We stopp... Read More
Monday, 31 May 2021 09:45
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Floating the Grand Canyon

by Howie Wolke


Howie WolkeIn late October, Marilyn and I headed south for a 226 mile 21-day float trip down the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. There were four of us, in two rafts. For most of the 20,000 or so folks who annually float the Colorado, the scenery and numerous challenging rapids are big attractions. But for Marilyn and me, the big draw was the vast desert wilderness that the river punctuates. Although I hadn’t rowed challenging whitewater in nearly two decades, we all made it through the rapids upright, though I had a few close calls.

Wilderness. The Big Outside (Foreman and Wolke, Revised Edition 1992) inventoried the Grand Canyon wildland complex at 2,700,000 acres of roadless country in one unbroken block, the fourth largest such area in the lower 48 states. The 2.7 million acre wildland includes over a million roadless acres within Grand Canyon National Park, but also a number of contiguous national forest and BLM roadless areas and designated wildernesses. 

Recent Comments
Guest — Thomas H Small
I believe the Grand Canyon Dam should be protected for all current and future generations of people who live near the beautiful ar... Read More
Friday, 23 April 2021 06:35
Guest — Richard Baker
I took a class in my Geology of National Parks course on the long float trip over 40 years ago. It was the most memorable trip of ... Read More
Wednesday, 21 April 2021 10:38
Guest — Constance Stepanek
What a better person I am for having read your essay. Truly your protection of the wilderness will already be remembered. No dou... Read More
Tuesday, 20 April 2021 13:47
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An Art of Conducting Oneself

By Paul Willis

Paul WillisThere is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.  —René Daumal, Mount Analogue


Sitting here, high on the shoulder of a peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, I am looking down at a grassy swale where I startled a herd of eleven mule deer. From this height they are now too small to be seen, but they kept their ground as I detoured around them on scree and talus, not wanting to disturb their pasture. And looking down in the other direction, a blood-red canyon drops away to the round expanse of an alkali lake, from this vantage point its two or three islands an obvious continuation of a series of craters to the south. And, looking up, the summit of the mountain I'm on rises gently, inviting me to visit before thunderheads build and explode, just as they did yesterday on my way down another summit. Such a relief to be lost in sky, no other purpose beyond placing the next boot, the next hoof.     


Recent Comments
Guest — Dave Potter
Truly a wonderful word painting. Then I see the author is an English prof; good for you.
Sunday, 28 March 2021 15:56
Guest — Mark D. Blitzer
Very touching story. I was particularly interested in that the author had a "small part" in gaining wilderness protection for the... Read More
Wednesday, 24 March 2021 17:16
Guest — Paul Willis
Mark, I was chair of the wilderness committee for the Spokane Group of the Sierra Club in the early 80s. We tried to get the Kett... Read More
Wednesday, 24 March 2021 18:57
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Arctic Dreams

By Ned Vasquez


Ned VFor many years, dating back even to my childhood, I have dreamed of spending time in the Alaskan wilderness. In August, 2019 this dream became a reality when my middle daughter and I spent 9 days rafting the Kongakut River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Our trip was organized through a guiding company based in Fairbanks. Our group consisted of 6 clients and 2 guides and we were fortunate to have a highly compatible group. The guiding company did an excellent job of orienting us to the nature of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and ensured that we were as minimally impactful as possible.


Recent Comments
Guest — Deb Merchant
Thank you, Ned, for highlighting the critical nature of protecting the Arctic from drilling. I'm speaking to my choir when I say t... Read More
Saturday, 20 March 2021 21:49
Guest — Julie Stinchcomb
Sounds very nice. Very descriptive. Definitely want to visit. Thank you. Warm Regards Julie Stinchcomb
Thursday, 18 March 2021 17:40
Guest — Cathy
What a adventure, Ned! I've only been to AK once (Denali, Katmai - bears, etc.) and I am definitely going back! On my bucket lis... Read More
Friday, 05 March 2021 15:36
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Arctic Time

By Frank Keim


Old days drift slowly into new days

and the white eye of the Arctic sun rolls

bright across the night,

as we trek


up the Hulahula River,

named more than a century ago

by Hawaiian whalers stranded

on an ocean cold and frozen

before its time.

Recent Comments
Guest — Reba Reiser
Great poem, thank you for continuing to care the way you seen to have always done.
Friday, 12 February 2021 14:29
Guest — John Lyle
Frank, thank you for sharing this poem. As I sit here reading it, looking out the window at Mauna Loa covered with new snow, I can... Read More
Thursday, 11 February 2021 10:37
Guest — Catherine Johnson
How beautiful!
Monday, 08 February 2021 15:28
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NOT Alone in the Wilderness...

By Cathy Brandt


Due to life-long arthritis and now a bit of the "A" word (age), I can't hike very deep into wilderness areas. However, when I do I'm looking to experience solitude—to get away from masses of people and their litter, cell phones, dogs barking, and aircraft noise. It's very sad that some people have never been away from these distractions and never know what they're missing.

We all deserve wild solitude and I feel human beings actually need it. In the wild all of our senses experience fresh cues, and our lungs take in more clean air and oxygen. For some of us, it can also be a very emotional experience. A few tears may be shed at the sight of a wondrous peak, or a gurgling moss-lined creek. Wild places are my church, and many would agree with me on that!

Recent Comments
Guest — Cathy Brandt
Thanks Dick Johnson for the info. Thanks everyone for reading my story and I hope many of you will get more involved to make a di... Read More
Monday, 09 November 2020 20:46
Guest — ernie
thanks for the Canada we are not burdened by these noise infractions as much, I hope we won't be in the future.
Sunday, 01 November 2020 14:52
Guest — Elizabeth Mooney
It is totally outrageous that a portion of this world doesn't care about mother natures land and the marine and wildlife animals. ... Read More
Sunday, 01 November 2020 14:46
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Toads in the sand: How the Juniper Dunes Wilderness protects wildlife from motorized wreckreation

By Scott Crain


The Juniper Dunes Wilderness area is a 7000-acre part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, located in southeastern Washington State. It lies just a few miles north of what used to be a quiet part of the state, now exploding with population and development. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation lies a few miles to the southwest, one of the most polluted nuclear waste sites in the country. Just outside the barbed wire fence that surrounds Juniper Dunes lies an off-road vehicle area promoted by the Bureau of Land Management for ORVs and other motorized activities. 


I was born and raised a few miles south in Pasco. When I was a kid, the Dunes, as we called them, were a place to go target shooting, driving four wheelers, and doing all sorts of other things that our parents didn't want to know about. I've moved on, but those activities continue unabated right up to the wilderness boundary.

Recent Comments
Guest — cynthia lewis
Thanks you for trying to protect this special ecosystem. It is people like you who put in the time/effort who will make our planet... Read More
Sunday, 25 October 2020 17:51
Guest — C Logs
Great article Scott, shows both perspectives which is good. No child should be deigned the out door experience. It's important ... Read More
Wednesday, 21 October 2020 14:36
Guest — Bonnie
Thank you Scott for calling our attention to and helping us reconnect to the Natural World! I advocate for programs that take chil... Read More
Sunday, 18 October 2020 10:10
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The Boundary Waters and an Over-Reliance on Technology

By Kevin Proescholdt


In August, my family and I enjoyed our second canoe trip of the summer in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of northeastern Minnesota.  The 1.1 million-acre BWCAW is a lakeland wilderness with over 1,000 lakes connected by rivers, streams and portage trails. It is part of Superior National Forest and is one of the most visited (if not the most visited) Wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System.


We enjoyed five days of paddling, portaging, camping, swimming, fishing, and laughing.  But we did have to contend with strong winds almost the entire trip, including becoming windbound overnight at a point of land where the strong west winds howled unimpeded along many miles of open lake.

Recent Comments
Guest — Chris
Been on numerous trips decades ago. I do hope while on your trip you pondered the fact BWCAW was one of the first and still one ... Read More
Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:14
Guest — Mike Shepley
My grandfather built a retirement house on Fall Lake near Ely (but the reality of winter soon had them renting for 6 months a year... Read More
Monday, 05 October 2020 09:04
Guest — Valere Friedman
It would be appropriate that people be able to get some education on an area before they go, or at the very least, at the entrance... Read More
Saturday, 03 October 2020 22:26
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Cumberland Island

By Jessica Howell-Edwards

JessicaCumberland Island Wilderness is part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore in southern Georgia, administered by the National Park Service (NPS). It was previously sanctioned as a UN Biosphere Reserve, and is located just miles from Kings Bay Naval Base and also nuclear warhead storage.


I firmly believe that all Wilderness experiences have the potential to be transformative in our lives, but Cumberland Island Wilderness offers a complex variation of ecosystems that only a southeastern barrier island can: towering sand dunes, freshwater lakes, maritime forest, salt marshes, and deserted beaches.

Recent Comments
Guest — Janet Duran
I have always wanted to visit this beautiful Island. We must protect it. Thank you all for your wonderful comments.
Wednesday, 28 October 2020 15:45
Guest — Jessica
Yes! Please join us at!... Read More
Wednesday, 28 October 2020 16:38
Guest — Kevin Kriescher
Wilderness for wilderness sake! From it we come and to it we return; there is still nothing more beautiful. We might be better at ... Read More
Monday, 28 September 2020 11:00
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The Wild Emigrant: Cows, Dams, and Damn Mosquitoes

By René Voss

RenéSo now I know why people came up with the idea of aerial spraying DDT to kill pesky bugs ... like the thousands of mosquitoes that attacked me over the summer solstice in the Emigrant Wilderness.  Relentless beasts!


As I was walking out of the Wilderness I struck an interesting conversation with a fellow hiker who was local and had been visiting the Emigrant Wilderness for over 50 years.  He said he had seen many changes since he first started hiking there as a kid.  His name was Larry.  I know this because he was wearing a "Larry" belt buckle ... local for sure.

Recent Comments
Guest — Dave Potter
As I briefly mentioned in my first comment, I implore all of us that talk about saving nature and protecting its critters: use... Read More
Tuesday, 08 September 2020 11:58
Guest — James Morrison
Glad to see that some parts of the Wilderness is doing well. Just keep man and development out of the Nature Preserves.
Sunday, 06 September 2020 14:51
Guest — Dave Potter
Cattle in wilderness areas = cow pies in the meadows where you need to pitch your tent. Flies all around and trampled, broken dow... Read More
Saturday, 05 September 2020 16:53
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Wolf Sightings, Bear-Baiting, and Landing Strips: A Week in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

By Brett Haverstick

BrettI just returned from a recent backpacking trip into one of our nation’s first Wilderness areas, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of north central Idaho and western Montana. It was a typical June trip in the Northern Rockies with thunder, lightning, rain, hail, clouds, and sun. The forests were greening up, the rivers and creeks flowing at a strong clip, and the birds were both active in flight and song. My personal trip diary reflected that I observed bald eagles, osprey, red-tailed hawks, ravens, pileated woodpeckers, hummingbirds, western tanagers, Canada geese, common mergansers, and more.

Recent Comments
Guest — Brett Haverstick
Hi Dave this is Brett - thanks for reading the trip report and offering some of your experiences and insight. I've backpacked the ... Read More
Tuesday, 08 September 2020 11:58
Guest — Dave Potter
Thu, Aug 13 at 8:17 PM I saw this dumping of surplus food years ago in the wilderness beaches of the Olympic National Park. We s... Read More
Saturday, 05 September 2020 16:45
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Wilderness Watch
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Missoula, MT 59807
P: 406-542-2048

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2833 43rd Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406

P: 612-201-9266

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P.O. Box 9765
Moscow, ID 83843

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