I have never been comfortable about how we as an agency or society conceptualize Wilderness. Our management must follow the Law, that is the Wilderness Act but Wildness and nature are seen as something separate which feels, to me, alienating.
Growing up I would visit the remote and wild Sierra Madres and live there with my extended family. While there I would meet the Tarahumara or Rarámuri, loosely translated as running people, and they would always impress me both with their amazing ability to walk me and my horse into the ground but more so with their calmness in nature.
Over time being with them and living outside day after day the wild nature began to feel more like simply home and the ‘I’ felt more transparent and porous. The ‘wild’ part went from something outside of myself to something inside of myself.
I believe all of our recreating planning thoughts about the spectrum of recreation experiences from urban to primitive are just cultural notions and have no real reality, they are cultural determined and fail to address the deeper aspects of the recreation experience founded on our interaction with the natural world which includes ourselves.
Check out this talk, its worth considering.
Wildness: Relations of People and Place
Whether referring to a place, a nonhuman animal or plant, or a state of mind, wild indicates autonomy and agency, a will to be, a unique expression of life. Yet two contrasting ideas about wild nature permeate contemporary discussions: either that nature is most wild in the absence of a defiling human presence, or that nature is completely humanized and nothing is truly wild.
Wildness, edited by Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer, charts a different path. Exploring how people can become attuned to the wild community of life and also contribute to the well-being of the wild places in which we live, work, and play, Wildness brings together esteemed authors from a variety of landscapes, cultures, and backgrounds to share their stories about the interdependence of everyday human lifeways and wildness.