The wild side begins where people leave off. Where roads, wire, and fences stop. Though humanity encroaches more and more, these places do exist. Wilderness is. I have been fortunate enough over the course of the last forty years to have hunted, hiked and rode horses into many wild places, where the only hint of civilization might be a contrail from a plane overhead. And darned few of those, as there are few plane routes over Montana. I am grateful.
I am not ungrateful for the roads. For without them I would be unable to reach the many places I have been, especially now as I age and heal from a total knee replacement. Still, if I have taken anything away from my forays into wilderness it is this; wilderness is vital, not just psychologically and spiritually, but organically as well.
People need wilderness to sustain our physical life, and not just to grow our groceries. Our planet is a self-sustaining organism with a great many integral, interconnected parts. There are some obvious ones, like dirt, water and sky, or photosynthesis, oxygenation, and the like. And then there is the rainforest, the ocean currents and thermals, upper atmospheric air streams, the polar ice caps, the deserts, and mountains all performing a specific and necessary function. There are trees, fungi, permafrost, etc., etc., etc. And we have not even begun to talk of the role of insects and animals. Wilderness is vital.
I take the long way around when I travel. Less traffic that way – no traffic if I can help it. I see a few ranches, always fences and roads. Not much to be done for that. You can see a great deal of wild Montana from a roadway, but you have to park the truck to get into it. Animals today have adapted for the most part. They interface with encroaching humanity more and more frequently.
So, where is the wild side? It is wildest in wilderness, and it is vital. See the wild side.