Welcome to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve; A Wilderness Park.
I first ventured in to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park in the late 1990′s, and have been back every year since then. My first hike in the park was a weeklong solo journey down the goat trail, a fantastic hike from Skolai Pass down the Chitistone Valley to Glacier Creek. I saw my first ever grizzly bear in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, on that trip. I saw my first glacier, my first Dall sheep, my first golden eagle all on that hike.
Wrangell – St. Elias has been home to many firsts for me, and I’m proud and excited about each and every one of them. I saw my first aurora borealis in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, one cold fall night in the Mentasta Mountains. I saw my first (and currently only) wolverine in Wrangell – St. Elias. I made my first month long wilderness trip in Wrangell – St. Elias. And that, perhaps, is what wilderness really is all about; ‘firsts’, because each and every time we experience real wildness, it’s something new, something uncontrived, unconstructed, untramelled. And Wrangell – St. Elias has, for me, taught me more about the wild, the wilderness, about wildness, than any book I’ve ever read or class I’ve ever taken.
Wrangell – St. Elias has helped teach me about wildness, about what wilderness really is. And it’s the exploration of that which has produced this book, and this website. It’s this exploration that’s produced me, Carl. And it’s that process that will produce a new me, tomorrow, and the next day, and so on.
Wilderness is really, I think, a process. An ongoing journey, not a destination. We don’t arrive at wilderness, we experience it, we journey through and with it, we live it. We don’t control it, we don’t define it, but we allow it to shape and define us. That’s wildness, and that’s just a tiny part of what Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve has given me. This project is my humble attempt to give something in return.