In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau

A successful break

Pascale It’s here! The first official rest day of the expedition begins and we get to sleep in! After we got up at 3am two days ago, I use the long-awaited chance to rest until the morning sun shines so strongly on the tents that it is too hot to stay inside. (The tent reminds me more of a combination of a teepee and a castle, so that I always have to think of Arthur Weasley’s tent (in Harry Potter).) When I take a look outside and see the Toba Valley, which I have shown everyone on postcards for the past few months, and I am simply happy that I am here. The snow-covered mountains, the splashing water and the full, green forests are not as pretty as I had imagined them, but rather a thousand times more impressive. And to know that Wilderness International has protected this bit of wilderness forever increases my joy even more. A little while later we start our dining ritual, and I know that I will never forget this place and these people. Because breakfast is almost better than in the Strathcona Park Lodge, I don’t miss the place we left yesterday any less, but I know that I am going to like it here at least as much. In addition, I manage to drink three liters of water before lunch – a personal record! And the only way to survive in this heat… We have no real shade, and therefore we have something else we have to do on our rest day – set up a tarp so that we have a cool, shady area to stay and to store our food. Not so easy, considering the amount of food, but with a bit of team work we manage it. Now, I understand (looking at the amount of the food) why everyone returns home from Canada a little bit heavier. We will surely not starve! Lunch (yes, everything revolves around food) reminds me of home: we have potato salad. The canned tuna is new, and I am surprised that one can eat the bones, too. Great – because I usually choke on them! After lunch and a small rest, Hannes starts a mud fight, in which all of those participating are covered in a brown-grey, cool muck. I watch all of this from a safe distance: I want to stay out of the strong midday sun, and besides, I have fallen behind a few days in writing in my journal. I wonder what the animals think of all of this. Spontaneously, I think of Tarzan, until I realize that what we are doing is the complete opposite – we have protected this wilderness! But do the animals also know that, if they see a horde of humans throwing mud at each other? When one is riding, it is said that emotions carry over to the horse, so it could be that also wild animals notice the joy and fun of the group. The emotions have carried over to me in any case, and then I think, “Just one more sentence and I will join in!” Forget it. After two words I fall asleep over my notebook, and when I wake up everyone else is exhausted, clean again, and nibbling on snacks. The rest day did us all a load of good, and despite all the fun and the wonderful new experiences, Canada is really exhausting. That’s why we did not waste any time on our rest day, because in order to continue to be successful environmental ambassadors, we also need a break every so often. Translated by Pilar Wolfsteller Photos: © Wilderness International

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