Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The No-Name Route

I am in search of the 'no-name.' I want to explore empty places on the maps, voids appeal to me unexplainably. Vast spaces on the map instill a curiosity that seems unable to be quenched; essence over existence. Most of all, I need obscurity; I need wilderness.

When I see an open landscape I see an open canvas, a chance to create. In fashioning a route I want to create something that would be worth walking twice. I am searching to connect landscapes and biospheres with a route and/or trails that push thresholds, my limits, and fulfill my ascetic pleasure. I seek those wilder places to obtain lonesomeness, to obtain a higher spirit where I can blend in with the world around me.

Assessing my needs accurately and realistically will help me enjoy my experience and create a route as a 'piece of art.' Water availability, food levels, impending weather, adequate shelter, and crucial assessment of skill level all should influence which direction I decide to take. Imperative out in the wilderness, or the middle of nowhere, is situational awareness and stress management, both physical and mental. This situational awareness empowers me to be a part of the landscape moving with the flow of nature.

So when I do see an open landscape I do see an open canvas. And not only do I envision a chance to create, I believe in freedom. We are blessed to live in a country where we are free to roam wild places , where our own two feet paint a picture. Few hikers create or pioneer a route. Most hikes are related to other's hikes that want to re-create an experience another hiker has had or most hikers choose a trail based on popularity. What about creating your own in an unknown area and letting your skills guide your way, your heart and head shine the light, absorbing Nature's flow, and feeling uninhibited by the randomness of wilderness? What about the no-name places, the big, empty holes on the map?

I know of a small faction of hikers in the no-name guild. And I bet there's a few others who are so unknown they are indefatigably underground and unnoticed. The goal of notoriety is non-existent and, much like the faraway places they go to, have a deeper sense of adventure and an insatiable perseverance to go beyond what they know they are capable of. Above all, a wilderness ethic oozes from their persona; they know how to act. 

Before you go out for a long distance hike think of your wilderness impact and the influence of wilderness on you. Fantasize about places where people do not go. Try to envision an empty place where you fill in the spirit, where you pioneer a story. Strive to create a piece of art that validates the personality of the route taken. 

I am embarking on a 'no-name' route this summer, for the pure joy of immersing myself in a profound wilderness is a necessity to me, as well as stepping into an unknown essence. Which way would you choose: the easy way, the sensible way, the most challenging way? The most unnamed way? The battle of the head and heart begins.


  1. I did a lot of this in Alaska. All you had to do was step out of the kayak with your aerial photo and start clinging to the mountainside. It's a little harder in the lower 48 but as the Forest Service is increasingly underfunded trails are disappearing. I think there will be more opportunities as people choose technology and comfort over wilderness.

  2. Thanks for you insight Mary. Well said.