Davin Hattaway, from Washington D.C., expresses his thoughts. “What really is untrammeled territory? If there is a 1972 Chevy, Impala left abandoned in a designated wilderness area, should it be hauled out or left behind for it’s historical value?”
It is a tough call. One can argue that it’s not any different than restoring historic shelters.
Hattaway is at the conference with his wife, Anna Wlodarczyk. I get a moment to talk with both of them that evening. Anna Wlodarczyk says, “Well, I think it’s wonderful that we can bring together many different people who are attracted to wilderness. Perhaps people with different views can come together like this and enjoy it together and learn about it together and form a bond, in that way, makes wilderness a sort of a unifying force for people who perhaps would not meet otherwise.”
Davin Hattaway agrees. He adds, “I think it’s great to see the entire wilderness ecosystem sort of be together on one camp site. Yo got the folks who are from the national headquarters. You got the folks who are enthusiasts, like myself. You have all different ages, all the way down to the 22-year-old, just graduated, forestry student that’s going to be out there leading the SAWS (Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards) team. Seeing everybody together, everybody who has a role in the process from thousands of miles away and dozens of different age groups and professions and mindsets indicates that we are finally getting together and talking and learning together and seeing what the other part of this process is and how people react and how they interpret these issues. It’s great to see all of these people and talk to them all at once and see, as a whole, how it all comes together.”
I take a solo trail run that late evening along a still pond’s quiet bank. Just ahead, Jameson plays a breath taking “How Sweet It Is” on his harmonica. I stop for a moment to listen and am reminded of the precious gift all around me. I continue on my uphill run. A frog leaps out, tadpoles swim in shallow puddles, a snake crosses the trail just in front of my feet. I think more about my life, my boy, his mom and pizza. I am jogging Existence Trail.
I get back and wind down with some of my new friends. I talk to David Cohen, recent University of Georgia graduate. He says, “So, I guess I’ve gained a lot of insight into the issues at hand and definitely a lot of tools to explain those issues and get people, the average person, to better understand them and to hopefully encourage stewardship in the average person that might not have considered those issues beforehand. It feels really good to be around a group of like-minded people and know that you could really share your thoughts freely and people are going to also share those thoughts and know that you’re not the only person that feels a certain way about the world and our place in it and what we should be doing to protect it.”