“So at Christmas in this court I lay down a challenge: / If a person here present, within these premises, / Is big or bold or red-blooded enough / To strike me one stroke and be struck in return, / I shall give him a gift of this gigantic cleaver / and the axe shall be his to handle how he likes. / I'll kneel, bare my neck and take the first knock. / So who has the gall? The gumption? The guts? / Who’ll spring from his seat and snatch this weapon? / I offer the axe — who’ll have it as his own? / I’ll afford one free hit from which I won't flinch, / and promised that 12 months will pass in peace, / then claim / the duty I deserve in one year and one day. / Does no one have the nerve to wager in this way?” [more inside]
When you’re alone in a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, the simplest question becomes the most complicated: How do you fill a day?
For the last three days, a Search and Rescue Officer for the US Forest Service has been telling his stories to the NoSleep subreddit. They are by turns unsettling, sad and and just plain creepy ... and what's with the stairs? Read the comments, too. [more inside]
Some of the world’s most powerful conservationists are giving up on wilderness. They are making a big mistake [more inside]
The next year would change his life forever, challenge him in ways he couldn’t imagine yet and unsettle an entire town. But his first leap was simple. On an unremarkable day in September 2012, after so many other frustrating and unremarkable days, he stepped into the woods carrying only a tarp and a hunting knife. He walked through the thickets and pines he’d fallen in love with as a child, and busied himself with the most worthwhile job he could think of: survival. Into The Pines.
Every year, women come from all over North America to prove themselves in Alaska's wildest competition [more inside]
Accidental Rewilding - In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return
The forest had entered a cycle Tomaž had not seen before, in which many of the giants had perished. Some had died where they stood, and remained upright, reamed with beetle and woodpecker holes, sprouting hoof fungus and razor strop. They looked as if a whisper of wind could blow them down. Others now stretched across the rocks and craters, sometimes blocking our path, sometimes suspended above our heads. Among the trunks lying on the ground, some were so thick that I could scarcely see over them. Where they had fallen, thickets of saplings crowded into the light. Seeing the profusion of fungus and insect life the dead wood harboured, I was reminded of the old ecologists’ aphorism: there is more life in dead trees than there is in living trees. The tidy-minded forestry so many nations practise deprives many species of their habitats.by George Monbiot [more inside]
"Now, my friend Adams was accused of a crime he didn't commit, so he escaped into the mountains, leaving behind the only life that he ever knew." In 1977, three years after the popular movie The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams introduced the story of John "Grizzly" Adams to the public, a TV show of the same name premiered. [more inside]
Alone In The Wilderness "Documentary tells the story of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Using color footage he shot himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin completely by himself. The documentary covers his first year in-country, showing his day-to-day activities and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living alone in the wilderness." (Color, 57mins)
40 years ago, a small crew of filmmakers set out to document some of the more pressing issues involving wildlife in America. They made eight half-hour films around the country and in doing so made what is believed to be the first environmental TV series in the US. Entitled Our Vanishing Wilderness, all eight episodes are now online and free to view here.
"In 1980, when Jimmy Carter created the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, only six families of white settlers were allowed to keep cabins there. Heimo Korth and his wife, Edna, are the only ones left." [more inside]
Meet Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman, and their son Katmai. They decided they could live without running water, shower, bath or a working toilet, but they had to have broadband Internet access. They live deep in the Alaskan wilderness, in a yurt.
The New Road. A photo essay by Rob Amberg on the building of I-26 through Madison County in the mountains of North Carolina. via
One World Journeys produces exciting and educational photo-documentary expeditions that connect online viewers to unique wilderness areas around the world. Travel to the remote mountain forests of the former Soviet Georgia, track jaguars in Mexico, dive on pristine coral reefs, swim with wild salmon and wildlife of British Columbia and step into the heat of the Sonoran Desert.
"It was now dark and here I was in this spruce thicket without food or fire, naked, and miles from a camp." It was 1913, and Joseph Knowles had with cooperation of the Boston Post, decided to prove that man could survive in the wilds. Pictures and courtesy of Google Books, Knowle's own account, Alone in the Wilderness.
They say he has the pelt of a human-like being that he shot in the wilderness; the beast was hiding behind a tree, whistling.
Peruvian Gothic. "Don Benigno Aazco carved his way 36 years deep into the green heart of the Andean forest, founded 14 settlements, abandoned his wife and many children, married his daughter, slew his son-in-law, fought drug peddlers, tamed the wilderness, and reclaimed, as best he could, the Inca Empire. And now I was going to find him." [via]
"So, tomorrow I take to the trail again, to the canyons south." With these words young artist Everett Reuss left the town of Escalante, UT to head into the desert never to be seen again. He was only twenty but had rubbed elbows with the likes of Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange. Reuss has been described as a "total artist" [angelfire] working in paint, woodcuts and poetry to describe the marvelous wilderness of the Southwest. [more inside]
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are a special set-aside in the Superior National Forest in the north woods of Minnesota. Containing over 1,000 lakes and streams, 2,200 designated campsites, and 1,500 miles of canoe routes, this treasure provides a great place to escape from the world of civilization. It also, apparently, provides a great reason for cool websites. The Swanson party website is one of the most impressive feats of private naturalism I've seen. It has everything from the 68 types of ferns and fern allies you can find in the BWCAW to lake commentaries for 356 of the biggest (and smallest) lakes that travelers encounter. There's also the DC3 website, which has diaries and pictures from a group of BW adventurers from 1977 to 2003. A truly impressive effort, if apparently not ...quite... finished. And while the diaries tell a story arc about a group of friends, the distance between the stories always leaves tantalizing details for the reader to imagine. Such as this tidbit at the end of the 1986 trip, which has as its central detail the fact that one of the party's wives received major burns and had to leave early:
They traveled almost ten miles and portaged four times, (a total of 465 rods), before they reached Snowbank Lake. The wind was very strong. They had to cross the lake the long way and directly into the wind. At one point they didn't move for twenty minutes even though they paddled as hard as they could. They finally reached the landing and headed for the A&W in Ely. From there, Tur called home to check on Beeps. There was no answer. But that's another story.Naturally, there are also messageboards set up to discuss trips to the BWCAW, advocacy organizations to make sure it stays wild, and you can even make entry point reservations online nowadays. The Bee Dub previously referenced here on MeFi
Death Valley in bloom. Lots more here and the story is here. Flickr photos with tags deathvalley+flowers. (Full disclosure: I work on Flickr. -ericost) NPR did a segment recently. Desert USA has a guide. The Death Valley National Park news page has a link to two PDFs. Wildflower Update. (via MetaTalk, five fresh fish, monju_bosatsu, ericost, euphorb, ori, and the MeFi community. All text and copy directly lifted from the thread.)
To live in a pristine land ... to roam the wilderness ... to choose a site, cut trees, and build a home ... Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. In 1968, at 51 years of age, Richard Proenneke retired to Upper Twin Lakes, Alaska and using nothing but hand tools, built a cabin where he lived for the next 30 or so years. He filmed the cabin's construction (as well as much of nature's wonder) and kept meticulous notes on the back of wall calendars. In 1973, Sam_Keith produced a book (One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey) based on Proenneke's journal entries and photography. In 1999, at the age of 82, Proenneke could no longer endure the harsh winters of Alaska and moved to California to be with his family. He died there on Easter Sunday, 2003.
Large-scale marijuana cultivation in National Parks and forests. "[Growers] are killing wildlife, diverting streams, introducing nonnative plants, creating fire and pollution hazards, and bringing the specter of violence. For the moment, we are failing both parts of our mission, and that is tragic." This is not a new problem. "The reasons are obvious: the land is fertile, remote and free. There's no risk of forfeiture, plantations are difficult to trace, and growers have land agents outmanned, outspent and outgunned."
1200 video clips of the American Wilderness, captured by PBS, is a great reminder of the country's natural beauty. For insectly weirdness, check out Maryland's cicada invasion.