Summers in Yosemite helped to forge Gene Reckin’s ideology

Gene-age-10-Mammoth-PkGene Reckin, Libby High science teacher, spent summers in the Yosemite wilderness as a boy, and it changed his life. Read his essay for “Voices In The Wilderness,” a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 appearing in the Western News in Libby, as well as on

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  1. Gene, just a few days ago I read your article here for the first time. You’ve contributed a really refreshing piece here to this Wilderness Act commemoration.

    I’m always inspired by a story of someone who’s gotten away from a less-than-fulfilling situation and found the perfect alternative, and wilderness really fits that bill.

    The sensory detail you chose to describe is a nice enhancer, I think. I love the descriptions of the cold water, the starry nights, etc., and I’m glad one of the bird species that appears here is the Clark’s nutcracker. I’m fascinated by that creature; I believe it has a symbiotic relationship with the whitebark pine tree, doesn’t it? I like to think about how that works up there in the most gorgeous parts of the planet, and how the grizzly bear benefits from it (where grizzlies still exist, which of course is not in Yosemite).

    What are some of the things your dad did on his job in the park? How about your mother — did she do any breadwinning during your seasons there? (Of course, few could blame her if she spent the entire time recreating.)

    While I’m really glad you got this experience, I’m sort of envious (not in a negative way) that you witnessed the park before it was overrun with the consequences of human use. Have you seen the documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea [2009], co-directed by Ken Burns? I’m in the middle of it now. And as you either know or would probably guess, Yosemite plays a big part in the history of the National Park System.

    Congratulations on reaching retirement, and I’m glad your road there went through some lovely wilderness. That kind of landscape makes for irreplaceable impressions.


    Ray Stout

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