A Legacy of Self Reliance

Hitch #4 Blog Post by Lida Wise - Payette Lead Steward

As far as the eye can see for 360 degrees -- mountains.  Not a single road or roof in sight.  Standing on top of Lookout Mountain in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, I slowly spin around and around, soaking it all in.  I’ve had a tough past couple days, and this vista was just what I needed to reaffirm my desire to be out here.  I remind myself, Wilderness is not supposed to be easy.  If it wasn’t challenging at times, it would not be wild.  And that’s exactly one of my reasons for coming out here - to overcome the challenging times so I know how strong I can be.  I lay under a pine, close my eyes, and listen to the soothing sound of the wind in the needles.  The breeze is a welcome respite on a hot day.  I watch a cloud shift shapes - just a bunch of dust particles rolling around itself.   These simplicities bring me back to center.  I am content.

Later, we fix dinner on the remains of a fire lookout tower.  Who lived here before?  What was their story?  More than ever before in my life, I feel a part of a legacy.  With no signs of recent human activity and very rare visitor contact, we are always surprised to come across such permanent-seeming signs from the past quickly vanishing back into scree and soil.  Besides the old concrete lookout foundation, we come across telephone insulators, rusty tin cans, an old game of horseshoes.  Humans have forged into remote rugged areas for years before I’ve been around, and it hasn’t been easy.  I like to think that I am continuing the legacy of self-reliance in Wilderness.  Like the lookout who occupied this mountaintop before me, I am living devoid of modern communication, technology-dependent entertainment, and easy access to food and water.  It is not always a stroll through a green grassy park - sometimes the trail is steep and hot and dusty and you take it one grudging step at a time.  But inevitably, you emerge a more resilient individual, more capable of appreciating simple things, and with a respect for the legacy of self-reliance in the Wilderness.