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Why We Need Escape to the Wilderness - Wherever We Find it

Kam Wixom

Edward Abbey once said "Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit." So true, but so easily forgotten. How is a necessity of the human experience easily forgotten?

We forget because we often fail to surround ourselves with the proper landscapes. It's really not complicated: Wilderness is land - a properly remote land free of worldly trappings, and "wilderness experiences" are the natural fruit of human spirits placed in that landscape. When the conditions are right, the human spirit breathes. It is not a sensation easily forgotten. Place yourself in the land for long enough, you'll feel your spirit breathe. Drink it in. Rehydrate your soul! (#rehydrateyoursoul)

At the beginning of every single river trip we've ever launched we say something to the effect of this: "If your neighbor on the raft seems grumpy and irritable, and maybe a little irrational, get them some water. They're dehydrated. And while you're at it, get yourself some too, 'cuz maybe it's you that's irritable and dehydrated!"

Have you ever avoided drinking pure water because there's always a tasty beverage of some kind always nearby? And then your body is tired of extracting sugars and artificial flavors, and textures from the hydrating water it actually needs, and you find yourself finally just drinking some "plain old water" and it is by far the most refreshing thing you've had in a long, long, while? Imagine that same feeling, but for your long lost soul! We get trapped by worldly (non-natural) surroundings and sometimes we just need to tell someone: "take me to the river"! The symptoms of the non-scientifically named "cabin fever" are the exact same as those of dehydration, so drink some water and then get the heck out of the cabin! Rehydrate your soul!

We make light of the idea, but we are pretty serious when we talk about "rapid onset nature-deficiency disorder" or "post riparian transit syndrome" being real difficulties experienced by our guests after they have returned home from a river trip - a person's just not the same after a river trip! The world is not the same once your spirit has been allowed the necessity of breath.

I love this video because it is short and simple, with a very clear message. I especially love the simple statement, "We're deep in the heart of a canyon... you're not going to get this experience anywhere else." Get to the river and canyons!

What We Love About the River

After I retired from being a full-time guide for Western River Expeditions, I placed this quote (below) in my river guiding photo scrapbook. It had always reminded me which reality is the REAL reality. It's from the Fall Issue Boatman's Quarterly Review (BQR) 1996:

"There are times when the simple life looks mighty good, and far too far away. Maybe that's what we love so much about the river. Real life means something different there. Up here, all too often, it's weird and hard and complicated. Down there it's clean and remarkably straightforward: Water heads for the ocean. Sun is hot in summer. Rocks are a factor. The river is in charge. The real rules are impersonal, but very consistent...and they all make sense: Drink lotsa water, rig your boat good, when in doubt scout, check those hand holds when you climb, tie your tent down, don't get cocky, treat people right, have faith, the world is what you make it."

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Kam Wixom
Kam Wixom
Kam began guiding in the Grand Canyon in 1991, met & guided with his wife in 2000, and is the proud daddy of 5 kids. He now works as the Marketing Director for Western River Expeditions. Read more from this author