2014 the Chinese year of Horse is reason to celebrate. It is the 50th anniversary of Congress enacting the Wilderness Act of 1964.
Drafted by Howard Zahniser of the Wilderness Society, and later signed by President Johnson, an act of brilliance on the part of the government to preserve our public lands with little influence by man.
In a nutshell, they wanted to keep it wild !
I have been so fortunate to put one foot in front of the other while strapped to a pack in places such as the Golden Trout Wilderness, the Rockpile Mountain Wilderness, the San Gabriel Wilderness, Death Valley and so on.
Wilderness areas excite me. They thrill me like no other public land. Stepping into them, sleeping in them, listening to them fills me with true joy.
The great thing is they attract very little people. The family of four rushing through the South Rim of the Grand Canyon grocery store will not be found in a wilderness. Just others who cherish a place just left alone to it's wildness. That is if you see anyone else at all.
In celebration my loves the outdoors experienced daughter and my most trusted four paw drive wilderness hiker decided to pack what was needed to make a six day backpacking trip into the Bell Mountain Wilderness of the Mark Twain National Forest of Missouri. An area called locally, the Ozarks.
The Ozarks were once home of the Osage people. Wildlife was trapped and hunted by French and Spanish alike. And later scenes of nasty guerrilla warfare waged by Americans against Americans.
The Bell Mountain Wilderness is small compared to other Wilderness areas. A scant 14.1 square miles. It ties into the Ozark Trail System running through the Ozarks.
Bell Mountain, named after a family that farmed here is a part of the St. Francois mountain range. No stunning Sierra Nevadas or Rocky Mountains here. Just the quiet beauty which is the Ozarks.
The Wilderness designation did not dissapoint. In fact Missouri fire breathing thunderstorms and torrential downpours ruled the wilderness for the for the first three days. Sky only gave us but a few hours of respite. Keeping us confined in hammocks for a day and a half as Sky pounded the Earth, causing all in the forest to duck for cover as it lashed out its dangerous beauty.
Despite chaotic springtime storms the mountain top glades and deep hardwood forests are a beautiful sight. Oh the joy at the sounds of the wild ones who make it their home. Yelps of coyotes, calls of foxes, owls, and hawks just really drive the wilderness into in your soul. The serenading of toads will lull you to sleep. Knowing black bear and possibly mountain lions roaming the mountain just make it a place we want to be.
A six day celebration . Happy Birthday Wilderness act ! And many more !