Wilderness – where the heart is

We all have those special places. For me, they are usually wild ones. They are places where I leave a piece of my heart. My wife, Deb, and I call these our “happy places.” Sometimes I return to these places time after time to reconnect with the wild, with myself, and with the piece of my heart I left there.

But even I never make it back, I will always feel the connection. Many years down the road, or miles down the trail, these places tug at my heartstrings, bringing back my most precious memories.

Wild places are special because in solitude or with few distractions, our attention is fully focused on the place. We truly experience the sounds, the smells, the lines of the landscape and colors. The changing clouds and light. We can feel the pulse of the earth and listen to its heartbeat. We are slowed down enough to be in touch with our own heartbeat as well.

I have my special places in the Scotchmans. Some I have explored with others. Some I have enjoyed entirely on my own. Some places are so remote, they feel completely unknown to humankind. We all need those places to find our personal connection to the wild.

On a recent trip with Deb, I left another piece of my heart, grounding me to yet another rugged and magical piece of this earth. Exactly where doesn’t matter. But it’s wild. And remote. And quiet.

We went seeking solitude. We found it because we were willing to hike off-trail for a few days. We found it because the landscape is still wild. It has been kept that way because people cared enough to set it aside as Wilderness.

I hope to get back there again someday. But if I never do, I will still feel the connection. It’s Wild, it’s where my heart is.

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About The Author:

Phil Hough is the Executive Director of the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.

He has hiked the "triple crown": the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest trail (twice). He has also paddled the length of the Yukon river. Phil's love of wilderness guides him as he works to save the incrediblly wild Scotchman Peaks, one of the last and largest roadless places in northern Idaho and western Montana.

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