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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

trek trek trek

What is wilderness? I asked myself this question several times during our mini-trek over the past few days. I also kept questioning, what is a trek? What is a hike? How do my preconceptions of nature affect how I am experiencing this particular space? The wilderness I have become accustomed to is a much more conservationist/idealist wilderness, but it is exactly that: what I am accustomed to. The pristine air, giant trees, crystalline rivers, and lack of people are the constructs I have learned to build my idea of wilderness around, but they are no more valid as wilderness than the dirt roads, partially paved streets, small village shops, and baby goats we walked through. Wilderness is far more of a head space we consciously place ourselves in for a time (or, for all times) than a physical space we can define by a set of limitations, because what are these boundaries and requirements we place on our wilderness areas anyway but artificial ways to control, separate, and restrict access? The bottom line is that there is no one way to denote what is and what is wilderness, and similarly, what is a what isn’t a “trek.” Is a trek not just a journey one takes while carrying everything they need with them? It doesn’t matter what kind of forest (or, as Dave reminds me, a jungle/wood/woodland/any other word one might use all generally meaning the same thing) we are walking through or what kind of shoes we are wearing, but that we are making a journey through a space, over time, with our belongings on our back. As we trek, we change the places we are walking through, though some in more subtle ways than others, and the places we walk though change us, and that, to me, is what wilderness is.