Tracy Arm – Ford’s Terror Wilderness: Day 1

I recently returned from a week-long trip into the Tracy Arm – Ford’s Terror Wilderness. The trip was part of a class I am taking through Discovery Southeast, and as it’s title was “Glaciers and Climate Change in Tracy Arm”, I was somewhat unprepared for that fact that we would really spend most of our time in Endicott Arm and that the concept of “wilderness” would be the primary theme of the course. I may have been surprised, but I was in no ways disappointed. The experience, from the food to the company of my fellow participants, far exceeded my expectations.

On the first day of the trip, even before leaving Juneau, our first task was to define what “wilderness” meant to us individually. This was my response:

Wilderness – When I look around and I don’t see any other people and I don’t see anything people have made, I feel like I’m in wilderness. I’m not sure about being in cell range. Maybe true wilderness requires a lack of cellular signal. I don’t really like that I’ve defined wilderness subtractively…wilderness is where you are able and forced to connect with nature more deeply. (June 22nd)

I wasn’t really trying to be eloquent or profound when I wrote my definition. I was primarily reflecting on feelings I had enjoyed in the previous weeks while hiking on the ridges around Juneau. There was something inexplicably wonderful about traveling over a rise on the ridge and suddenly leaving all views of the airport, the Salmon Creek Dam, or any other man-made structure behind. Kayaking in Endicott Arm was not a brief forray into views of unblemished natural landscapes. It was full immersion, where days could go by without seeing a boat…let alone a building.

Angles and Fallen