I often think back to an unforgettable moment on a Wolf Ridge wilderness canoeing trip I guided a few years back. It was the last night of our trip and we had a close to perfect campsite in Voyageurs National Park with a fantastic rock outcropping facing west. We had just finished dinner and all of our evening chores were done. As the last bit of evening sunlight started to sink down into the darkness of evening, we all individually decided to sit out on the rock outcrop to watch the sun drop on our last night and reflect on all that we had seen, done, and accomplished.
It had been an quite a trip, with beautiful campsites, days of canoeing and exploring in the sunshine, and tasty meals around the campfire, but it had also come with some challenges. On our five day trip we had encountered long, drenching rain storms, thunderstorms, and ravenous bugs. In addition, the majority of the campers were new to wilderness tripping, so the learning curve of wilderness skills had been pretty steep. Despite the challenges we had come together stronger than ever, confident in our skills, closer as a team, and ready to take on the next challenges as we ventured back to our everyday lives the next day.
As we sat there, I started to think about how being in this place had brought us together over the past week. We had experienced beautiful elements, from old growth forests and wildflowers to swimming in pristine lakes, as well as challenging trials that brought us together and made us stronger. Through all of this, the magic ingredient had undoubtedly been the wild. Being separated from the comforts of the city, we got to experience things only the wilderness could give us, and being in a remote place had made us rely wholly on ourselves and each other. Without the wild, none of these things could have been possible and it would have been a very different trip.
Every single Wolf Ridge trip takes place on public lands, and for good reason, since these protected areas are some of the last wild places in the country. Wolf Ridge campers and families can see some of the most unique natural phenomena the country has to offer, from the pristine forests and waterways of the Boundary Waters and Quetico, to the mysterious sea caves of the Apostle Islands, to the legendary moose of Isle Royale. Public lands like these are some of the last remaining refuges for truly wild landscapes, and without them it would be immensely difficult to experience the freedom of wilderness travel, personal connection to the natural world, and the gift of seeing our world from a different perspective.
Public wild lands are perhaps the greatest gift to us from those who came before us, as well as being the greatest inheritance we can pass on to future generations. They challenge us, inspire us, allow us to grow, and deserve to be protected. Keep enjoying and exploring the public wild places near you, learn about how you can experience our wilderness areas with Wolf Ridge, and keep learning about the ways that we can continue to protect the wild places in our country, both near and far!