A thing of beauty is a joy forever or wild thing, you make my heart sing

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on my loves and passions. A consistent love since early childhood has been wild places and their wild life. At a very young age I had a profound experience in Yosemite National Park. I was alone in a cathedral forest looking at long shafts of sparkling light reaching down from sky to earth. I felt an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder, accompanied by a sense of belonging. Over the decades these feelings have not diminished, but have expanded as I continue to wander in wild landscapes.

I cannot adequately describe experiencing the cold pummeling power of the San Gabriel River on my childish body, as it rushed through that Wilderness. Or the black bear I encountered alone, at age 8, while transfixed, staring at a large boulder completely covered by lady bugs. Imagine my surprise as the bear’s long, pink, sticky tongue demonstrated the food chain.

As an adult, I intentionally chose my home ground in the Rocky Mountains because of its proximity to big chunks of Wilderness. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to stand in a never ending migration of caribou in Alaska, and to have wondered at the immense sound of wind generated by the flapping of hundreds of Sandhill crane wings rising from the waters of the Okefenokee swamp, followed by their loud, lingering calls above my canoe.

From alligators to elephants in the rivers I’ve paddled, to moose chasing me, rattlesnakes warning me, grizzly bears ignoring me and elk and wolves bugling and howling around me, I have been transformed in the wilder parts of our planet.

My passion for wild places has been a vital part of who I am and what I do. Sharing opportunities with family, friends and clients to find their wild, primal selves has been a joy. Environmental activism has also been a meaningful endeavor for me. It is my way of returning the love I’ve found in wilderness. Thank you to all who support this work.

Whether it is a trip with Big Wild Adventures or simply time spent watching a sunrise, the clouds rolling by, the northern lights, a bird on a thermal, the sudden onset of a storm or the setting sun illuminating the landscape, my Valentine wish for you is to be part of something bigger than yourself. Something wild and beautiful that makes your heart sing and your spirit soar.

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“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”– John Muir

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