We all have stories about our first times.
One of my favorite things to watch are those moments of trepidation expressed by someone who has never – ever – been in a packraft, but suddenly finds himself deep in a wilderness, far from a road, and wondering how the heck he got to this point. It’s as if he’s saying, “Oh my God – what have I agreed to? I have zero boating experience and I’m about to get into – and captain – my own boat in a place where rescue is nearly impossible.”
I love watching people go through that!
Not because I love watching people go through miserable emotional experiences – quite the contrary – but because I love seeing the satisfaction they get fifty miles later when they’ve battled rapids, freezing rain, grizzly encounters, and logjams – and battled them with grace and toughness and celebration!
It would be neat if we could watch everyone battle their life struggles with such vigor. Perhaps these lessons and the people that learn them comprise the more valuable reasons to preserve wilderness, than to do so for wilderness’ sake alone.
Photo: Matt V. taking a deep breath, about to enter Danaher Creek in a packraft for the first time, deep in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, July 2009. Sigma DP2. Ryan Jordan photo.