There is no place more simple, more basic and more real than the wilderness. Wherever I have lived I have made sure that some form of wild area was close at hand as a refuge from the concrete and craziness. Somewhere I could experience total silence, total dark, unfettered nature, and wildlife.
What qualifies as wilderness depends on who is looking. An argument could probably be made that there is no true wilderness left, but I have personally experienced some amazing places far from the herd. I have hiked into remote mountain wilderness areas, but even there it only takes one jet to fly over to remind you that civilization is never farther away than just above your head.
Behind my new home is a forest-covered slope that descends into a valley wilderness with a beautiful brook at the bottom. The forest has all the hallmarks of an old growth ecosystem, and walking or snowshoeing through it is as wild and primitive as it gets.
Most definitions of "wilderness" mean something like "a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by civilized human activity". From what I can see, my backyard forest fits this definition, although I do not know the history of this part of the world, which goes back several hundred years.
While hiking in the forest, which extends unbroken for kilometres in every direction, I had the good fortune to have a sighting of a small wild mammal by the brook. It was more evidence that this is wild land, and wild creatures are living here successfully. I love to know that such a wild community exists where I live.
The creature I saw is a member of the weasel family, but which one, I am not sure. I like to think that it could be a pine marten, or a fisher, two species that are rare in these parts. Both of those species require old growth forests and wild lands to live happily. Given that this is a large tract of exactly what these animals need, it makes sense that it could be one of them.
As I crouched by the rushing brook watching the dark brown animal move stealthily along the bank, I felt a deep connection to both this land and the things that live here. I can understand completely the pine marten, fisher, and other living things that need wild areas unaffected by the long reach of the civilized world.
To thrive, I do too.