Emma Froelich – Wilderness Ranger Intern
University of Wisconsin – Madison
June 11 – 18
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
As we emerged from the Wilderness, I imagined this is how Robin Williams’ character in Jumanji must have felt when his jungle-adapted self re-entered society, water from a tap? What a concept! As we drove back to civilization, my hair a greasy mess and my clothes sweaty and dirt stained, I mulled over the lessons I had learned. Hitch one was nothing short of a learning curve. Learning that oatmeal for breakfast gets old after day two. Learning that your toes will go numb and there’s nothing you can do about it. Learning that if you fall face forward with a full pack into a trenched trail you will get stuck and you will get laughed at. Wilderness seems to be one of the best teachers, very much like Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet’s Society. Its unorthodox methods hold a different lesson for each student and, as cliché as it is, teaches one to seize the day. One week in the Selway-Bitterroot taught me that any body of water counts as a shower as long as you scrub the dirt off and that hiking up to a saddle through snow isn’t easy, but the views are definitely worth every step. It’s easy to get frustrated out there and there were times I found myself wishing for things to be easier. “If only Robin Williams’ character in Aladdin were here right now, I could wish all these trees off the trail,” I’d think to myself. But I think the most special thing about Wilderness is it’s not easy, if it were it’d be a National Park. Wilderness is a challenge not meant for everyone, but the lessons it holds are far more valuable than anything I could learn in a classroom. I know I’ve got a lot of lessons left to learn, but I’m excited to have Wilderness as my teacher.