There are those who are worried that what wilderness we have is a dying commodity. Not in any literal fashion, climate change and invasive species put aside, but insofar as wilderness is a creation of the mind. When the modern information economy takes mystery out, wilderness is inevitably diminished, even if the legal Wilderness areas remain outwardly untouched.
Fortunately, several solutions endure which will keep wilderness alive in the Wilderness of the lower 48 for a long time to come. Beta proliferates, especially online, but is easy to not read, wholly or partly. Good maps exist thanks to sat photos and GPS, but the rewards of bringing a dodgy map will always be available for the bold, foolish, and forgetful. The tangible and psychological security of a GPS unit, sat phots, PLBs, Spots, cell phones, and whatever is next can always be denied.
A less contrived solution is to go where and when little beta exists, and the big Wilderness areas of the Northern Rockies in winter are still rarely traveled. I know a number of folks who have skied across the Bob in calender winter, but they’ll only tell you as much as you ask for, and none of their knowledge is on the net.
This is why, for all the poor grammar in their press copy, neo-hippie music, and cliche bro-brah jibbing, Land of No Use is worth watching (film below). As they wrote two years when the project began, “We want to challenge this concept of wilderness being useless with a visual testament to the unquantifiable values of wild areas, capturing the beauty of the untamed mountain ranges and their inhabitants as well as the story of a group of skiers exploring terrain that has seen little to no ski tracks before in the state named for its mountains.” People do ski in these places, but not many and not very often, and the visual tableau the film presents is if nothing else a powerful statement that even in the 21st century terrain does not limit adventure, only the imagination.
Naturally, my favorite part was the last segment in the Bob, skiing in at Holland Lake and packrafting out Big Salmon Lake and the South Fork. It’s a place I’ve come to love perhaps above all others, and where I learned best about what the film calls “the intrinsic value of wild land,” never more relevant than today.
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