“Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand…”
—Harvey Broome, writer and co-founder of The Wilderness Society
We—your editors for this issue—have long run to or run away from the wilderness in exploration of our selves, in search of words and for answers (to often unanswerable questions). Wilderness has been a place of healing and a place of deep connection. Between the two of us, we have lived or spent extensive time in some of the most remote corners of the Earth, from Antarctica’s McMurdo Station and the bushveld of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, to the foothills of Appalachia and a village at the foot of France’s Mont Blanc. We have embarked on solo journeys through the Alps, the red canyons of southeastern Utah, and the mountains of West Virginia. We dream as much as we plan future forays into the wilderness, whether it be a solo kayak down the 981-mile Ohio River or a grueling one-day mountain bike journey around Utah’s White Rim. And, physical wilderness has also been our tonic for the indefinable wilderness that is divorce, the disappearance of loved ones, deep depression, the shattering of one’s identity, and caring for others with dementia or terminal illness.
In this, our fourth issue of Proximity, we present nine very different stories of wilderness—stories of loss and hope, stories of love and war, stories of wild lands and captive spaces.
These stories take us inside and force us to redefine wilderness around the world.
In “Goodbye, Sweet Girl,” Kelly Sundberg returns to the Salmon River after years away, seeking closure and new beginnings, while Matthew Werner trespasses on closed federal lands in “Stinson’s Trout,” to explore the topography and language of a river.
In “Two Minutes,” Kevin Haworth tells a story of technology, love, and survival in Tel Aviv, summer of 2014, while Michael Zumstein‘s “Abidjan Zoo: A War Story” documents a place of captivity encroached by a new kind of wild during the Ivory Coast conflict of 2011.
Alex ten Napel‘s “Lost in Time and Space,” searches for signs of inner life in the faces of Alzheimers patients, while Sheri J. Booker searches inside herself after the loss of her mother in “The Hunt.”
And, through a selection of his poetry, Jonathan Travelstead explores one man’s search for austerity as he hikes in “The Appalachian Trail.”
These stories take us from Idaho’s Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness to the to the halls of Amsterdam’s Wittenberg Hospital; from the Ivory Coast and the Abidjan Zoo in wartime to the café-laden streets of Tel Aviv in the summer of 2014; from the iced-over shores of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the summer fishing waters of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and places in between.
Inside this issue, we’ve also expanded our reaches and collaborated with the photographers at Vail Valley Anglers and nine Instagrammers around the world, pairing each with a contributor, based on their shared location. Their photographs can be found on our home page and inside some stories. To learn more about these photographers, make your way to our contributors’ page.
We are honored to include these great storytellers and their transformative works in Proximity’s Wilderness issue, and we look forward to hearing your feedback in comments on our Facebook page, and encourage you to share our stories with others.
Traci J. Macnamara and Maggie Messitt