I've often heard the argument that the United States is still a vastly unsettled country. A satellite image taken at night over the US will attest to this, as a sprawling network of highways and populated areas can be seen. Yet some of the most beautiful moments one can have with nature come from the remoteness of an area. And in this country, truly being alone with nature can be a daunting task.
I've blogged about my experiences in Colorado before, and about how business owners these days only want to make a quick buck on weary tourists. The city of Manitou Springs, Colorado is a prime example of this. Here, man even tries to simulate nature in order to draw in the crowds, even though nature is ever-present in the area. The truth of the matter is that most ordinary people just aren't happy with what nature has to offer. Seven Falls, a popular tourist attraction near Manitou Springs, would be dry most of the year due to natural conditions were it not for a series of pumps that recycle the water to keep tourists happy. The average tourist expects immediate results, and is not willing to go searching for true beauty. But unfortunately, true beauty is fading at an alarming rate.
The United States has a wonderful system of National Parks that preserve the natural world. But finding yourself truly alone in one of these parks is near impossible. Manmade distractions are everywhere, and many times, scenic vistas are crosscut with roads. The August 2008 issue of National Geographic Adventure features an article entitled The Park at the Top of the World, by Kevin Fedarko, which documents a trip down Canada's Firth River through the Ivvavik National Park. The park, a 2.4-million-acre preserve, is virtually unknown and often goes unnoticed. In Fedarko's words, "Ivvavik is where we'll have to go to witness the soft of wilderness that America threw away." If Fedarko's description and Peter McBride's photography in the article are any indication, Ivvavik National Park is one of the last truly remote places on the planet. And it is a place I someday hope to visit and document, before it's too late.