A Wilderness of Thoughts

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I bask atop my camping cot, muscles aching from a long day. I take a deep breath of the warm smoky woody air. Yesterday began with a short trip across a glassy lake and a long trip up a winding river. Today began with loading our packs with all of the heaviest foods imaginable to a backpacker. Tomorrow will begin with…well, tomorrow is a new day.

After the long trip up the winding river we (mother father sister and I) camped at the top of the second set of rapids. The next morning began with the packing of our unlimited supply of food into the limited space of our packs. Loaded up with more than we needed, spirits high and rearing to go, we charged into the human free Yukon bush. Although there may have been a trail twenty years ago, little and no trail remains. When we are lucky we wind through narrow game trails, but generally we are not and most of our time is spent crashing through several different categories of brush and forest, all holding one thing in common; absolute wilderness. The absolute beauty of it all is breathtaking. The scenery roles out to infinity in any direction our eyes are allowed to gaze above and beyond the bush. We hike, and in an hour and a half when we should be arriving we are still hiking. Four and a half hours later, we arrive.

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The cabin still stands as it stood several decade ago when the alpha male of my dad built it in his youth. Now it is important to understand that this is not your ordinary summer cabin that you spend your evening at waterskiing and swimming. This is a cabin in the heart of the Yukon wilderness with no easy access. And when I refer the alpha male of my dad, I refer the man packing a hundred pounds of flour on a two to three day trek. A cabin that was traditionally accessible only by canoe, by foot, by dogsled, or by plane. As the decades passed away approaching the turn of the century snowmobiles and motor boats were borrowed and used upon occasion, but never the main form of transport. It was a nostalgic moment, the cabin and wilderness that had been the feature presentation of most of my bedtime stories.

I will not bore you with the day to day details of life at the cabin, but I let me emphasize the indescribable and un- photographical beauty of the naked Yukon back country wilderness. The dynamic contrasts in colour that change from day to day. Shade after shade of diffrent greens reds and yellows. The immensity and vastness of it all slips through my hold, and I am left grasping. I consider myself extremely lucky.

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Yes, this is indeed a blog about my year in Ethiopia; however, this trip is an important part of the bigger picture of my trip. For those of you who know a little something of physics, this will be easier for you to understand.

Potential energy is something that gains with height in a relationship. In my situation, however unquantifiable, culture shock, or culture change, also gains with height. As I spend my last week before my trip to Addis Ababa the thriving African city of four to seven million, I am basking in the Canadian northern wilderness of black flies moose droppings and bear tracks. These few days that I spent in the land of my birth, are shooting the height of the expected culture change through the roof and into the sky.  Simply put, in under two  weeks I am about to be thrown and entirely entirely new life. I can’t wait.

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