We flew for hours and nowhere on the land below were the signs of human machinery not obvious — roads, towns, cities, fields, reservoirs and clear-cuts sprawled every which direction.

Then the plane crossed an undefined line in northern Alberta and, suddenly, the boreal forest and tundra beyond were all but untouched. A human footprint had not yet been pressed upon this latitude of the globe.

Later, as our team of four Wenatcheeites paddled the Coppermine River in the Northwest Territories of Canada, we hiked to the top of a nearby peak. As we looked in different directions, Neal Hedges thought aloud, "I wonder how many people are out there in all this land we see."

Each of us made a slow circle wondering and looking. We could easily see 15 miles in each direction and we agreed no one else occupied any of it. We also agreed that each year fewer and fewer corners of the world are so empty and so devoid of human influence.

Come and see this landscape for yourself on Oct. 17 when Robbie Scott, Neal Hedges, Paul Hessburg and I give a presentation of our canoe trip down Canada’s Coppermine River at the Wenatchee Valley Museum (7 p.m., $5 donation requested).

With pictures we'll expose you to a beautiful and remote northern wilderness. The show is complemented with cowboy poetry describing the trip written by Paul Hessburg, our team's poet laureate.

The 24-day, 350-mile journey mixed slow paddles down long lakes fed by the river with exciting whitewater rapids.

Billions upon billions of bugs tried to feast upon us.

We, in turn, feasted upon grayling and Arctic char. We remember the area’s lakes, rapids, bugs, fish, and wildlife. Most of all we remember being surrounded — and touched — by the Big Lonely.

 

WenatcheeOutdoors and The World collaborate with this column to help the entire community enjoy and appreciate nature.