Today's guest blog comes from writer and photographer Herb Belrose. We were introduced to Herb by Brian Riepe of Mountain Flyer magazine. Thank you Brian for the introduction. As you all will learn as you read this post, and the linked Mountain Flyer story that follows it, Herb has something to tell us…that is worth our taking the time to read it. Thank you Herb. -Kid
As the years accumulate, I value adventures and companionship more and more. We have elevated our curiosity and boldness to a creed by bushwhacking our way through the backwoods, mountains and deserts of this globe. My work as a photographer and a writer relies on this intellectual and cultural saturation. Exploration is my motivation and, as a distraction from the rat race, it helps me find my wits.
This fall I completed an expedition with my lifelong friend, the architect and conservationist Allan Schmidt, that took us through the heart of an industrialized wilderness in coastal Oregon. We traveled from Portland to the Pacific Ocean through the Tillamook Burn, a forest that was the scene of many man-made forest fires from 1933 to 1951. We relied on a trusty pair of Salsa Mukluks to help us cover 60 miles of logging tracks abandoned by the Port of Tillamook Bay after a freak la nina powered cyclone flooded and gutted the infrastructure of the line in 2007.
Like a musician whose ears have been trained to hear tones and pitches, my awareness of environmental abuse and destruction has become fine-tuned. When we planned this trip a few years ago, we expected the ride of a lifetime. It was not until we peeled back the layers of history that we discovered the Tillamook Burn is a proverbial chorus asking humans to respect the forest and its inhabitants. The Burn is a place where reckless fires, logging, construction and climate change have gathered to wreak havoc on ecosystems and wildlife.
Absorbing the present, and the projected futures of our planet, is a lesson in humility. I want there to be beautiful places to bike, swim, hike and explore all over our world. I also want these areas to be permanent and protected. It’s a little bit too late for many industrialized sites, but, like Allan and I discovered, there are lessons hidden where you may not expect them.
The spirit of adventure in the past was about exploring the unknown geography, culture and topography of the earth. It was informed by the practice of colonialism. Today, we live in an age where satellite pictures of Antarctica are available in our pockets. This is the new age of exploration. It is about appreciation of the land and oceans; it is about connecting with old and new friends in diverse places; and it is about championing awareness for this lovely, chaotic mess of a world so that we can build solutions to maintain it.
We will need more wild places to go and find our sanity in the future, not less.
My publisher, Mountain Flyer Magazine, has posted the article “Riding the Burn Cycle” on issuu.com. Click here to read “Riding the Burn Cycle”
What about you? Is there a wild place that has captured your attention? Or perhaps even your heart?
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