By Aaron Kindle
I am often asked why I choose to spend so much time out in wild country? The question always strikes me as odd. I usually respond with “why not”? I simply can’t imagine a life without wide-open spaces, clear streams and wild critters. It would be a life I wouldn’t want to live.
Most people I acquaint myself with spend much of their time planning and plotting to get “out there” again. My wife and I never go more than a few days without talking about our next float trip or how we’re going to get in enough camping with the kids before the snow flies. I speak to friends about hunting once the snow does fly or where we’ll do our annual winter backpack trip or about how we’ll use the three-month summer window to get into an alpine lake in hopes of tangling with wild cutthroats.
So when I contemplate the question of “why?” or better yet, “why not?”, I eventually always circle back to the same answer. I gravitate towards wild, quiet places because that’s where I’m supposed to be, that’s where we are supposed to be. Wild country made us us. It’s in our blood and from our ancestors. Without wild places we wouldn’t be connected to our past, we wouldn’t be human.
The most obvious way to understand this truth is by taking children into the woods. They love catching fish or bugs or just digging in the dirt. When I ask my kids if they want to go camping, they never decline or say they’d rather do something else. When I ask them why they love it so much they say, “We don’t know, we just do”. They don’t have to think about it, they simply know the outdoor world is authentic, and needs no further explanation.
My folks recount similar stories from my childhood. I too was always eager to get outside to catch fish, shoot BB guns and generally make fun with things found outdoors. I eagerly hopped in the truck anytime dad offered to take me out. My father was also shaped by his time outdoors, as his father was a dedicated outdoorsmen and an amazing mind on all things of the natural world.
I mention my father and grandfather because truly valuable things stand the test of time. My family has passed our love of the outdoors from generation to generation going back as far as I can trace. Our outdoor heritage stands the test of time and endures through the years, connecting us through time and distance.
When I hear the joyous sound of my children’s laughter and see their pure delight while playing in some wild locale, I know that my father heard and saw those same things from me, and his father from him.
That laughter is a sweet music to my ears. It’s an old familiar music that our ancestors would certainly understand. It is obvious and pure. It is the essence of “why.”