In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau
A Living Room at the Beach
What do I take, what do I leave? In the morning we make the final arrangements – quickly repack the bag because the zipper suddenly doesn’t close anymore. We can only take the essentials – the next couple of days will be fluid, we have to be prepared for all eventualities – heat, cold, water, daily hikes through difficult terrain or being picked up with a seaplane – therefore we have to pack lightly. Then we leave on a boat across the water. A friendly dolphin welcomes us. But soon the fog surrounds us and we forge on into nothingness.
As the grey lifts, suddenly there is an island in front of us. Green hills and a winding coastline mark the grey horizon. And it’s really mountainous, this island. And not so wild as I had thought – from far away you can see the areas of forest that have been logged already. According to our captain, there is a small community on Porcher Island in the meantime. We are also not the only ship underway. The idea of the idyllic wilderness is gone for a second. To be far away from civilization in nature, alone between animals and their forest – that is not to be at the moment. But paradoxically, that is one of the reasons we are here. Wilderness areas are not a matter of course anymore, and they are threatened by sprawl and industrial use. Therefore, it is even more important that we protect what is left of them, so they can remain untouched from this kind of development.
But we disembark at the northwestern coast of the island, and in the meantime, there are a few kilometers (as the bird flies) between us and the rest of the world. We won’t mention the ground distance: it takes several hours here to travel a few kilometers, since it leads through thickets and between the massive trunks of the ancient trees. Or on winding paths along the coast, up and down the slippery rocks of the tidal area. So, we are very careful as we take our gear and supplies to the camp, and often slip on loose gravel and sharp stones. It is clear that we are now in the wilderness – where there are no comfortable paths, eagles circle above and we are accompanied on our way from sea anemones and barnacles. As the boat docks, we are greeted by Fabian, photographer and biologist, who has been here on the island for a few days already, and has observed wolves and numerous other animals. It’s clear that he is overjoyed to see humans again, and proudly shows us his small camp in the middle of huge giant trees, which throne majestically over the coastline.
For the rest of the day we get to know the area. We see wolf tracks in the sand, crabs which disappear en masse when we walk over the stones. Low and high tide, which each conjures a different landscape and a new animal world every six hours, controls access to the rest of the land, and therefore determines the day’s plan. Centimeter-thick peat moss are witness to hundreds of years. And the quiet aura of the ancient forest, which grows only slowly.
And we acclimatize to this life in the wilderness: a coarse stone beach, ice-cold salty ocean water and a huge tree trunk washed up by the tide at the campfire will be our bathroom, living room and kitchen.