SILENCE, PLEASE (a poem about American wilderness by Franz Camenzind)

Please- leave your cell phone behind
Lose your ear-buds too
Lower your voice –­ Please
Clear your mind of rushing thoughts

Be still
This is a beautiful place
Silence is a gift received

The silence I seek is not the absence of sound
The silence I seek is the sound of the land –
Air moving, quacking leaves
Streams flowing, splashing the sky

Grasshoppers buzzing away on wings
A red squirrel chattering
Gray jays calling
This is the silence I treasure

The silence of the living land
With no barriers between me and earth’s songs
Between today and creation
The primeval sounds found here still

On a wild lands trail
My backpack creaking
Footfalls on a hardened earth
The scuffing of dirt

My own breathing
Heartbeats heard inside
Pack straps rubbing
The clicking of my walking stick

Sounds unknown by far too many

We avert our eyes from the unsightly
But cannot avert
Our ears from the world’s new noise
So persistent is the clamor

We have accepted
Being numbed to the noise
Accepting the unnatural
Removed from the wild

I seek the wild places
Where the land still speaks
By mechanized sound

We treasure tranquility
The feeling born
From the silence of the land
Becoming every more rare

Silence, Please
For wilderness harbors the sounds of our soul
Freely given
We need only visit – and listen

Wheels in the wilderness? Bill to allow bikes divides outdoor lovers

Bill splits cyclists, conservationists over bikes in BWCA, other wild areas.

By Pam Louwagie Star Tribune

December 17, 2017 —


Brian Peterson, Star TribuneThe BWCA is unlikely to see a lot of debate about bicycles in the wilderness. “Mountain bikes generally don’t float,” said one bike enthusiast.

When the ice is solid and snow is light, it would be fun to ride a fat-tire bicycle across the quiet lakes of the Boundary Waters, Steve Piragis said recently as he pedaled atop Burntside Lake just outside of Ely, the tracks of deer, otter and fox scattered in the snow around him: “It would be tempting.”

But as a man who regularly ventures into the non-mechanized solitude of the federal wilderness and earns his livelihood as an outfitter, Piragis simply can’t see bicycles and the Boundary Waters mixing.

“We send people in for a true wilderness experience, which is as pure of an experience as you can get,” he said. “Bicycles would just be another infringement.”

A bill in Congress would clear a path to allow bicycles and some other nonmotorized wheeled vehicles into wilderness areas around the country. It is churning up unusual tension among cyclists and conservationists in Minnesota — two groups often aligned — as well as sparking internal conflict for people who consider themselves part of both.

The measure aims to amend the Wilderness Act so federal land managers could allow nonmotorized bicycles, adaptive cycles, strollers, wheelbarrows, game carts and some other wheeled equipment into designated federal wilderness areas. It passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources last week, though it has both supporters and detractors in the nation’s biking community.

“We’re just delighted beyond all description,” said Ted Stroll, who in 2015 co-founded the Sustainable Trails Coalition, a Colorado group dedicated to changing the rules for some wilderness areas. “We were tired of the … universal federal agency bans on human-powered travel in the wilderness unless you’re walking or paddling a canoe.”

The long-established International Mountain Bicycling Association, however, weighed in against any changes:

“Mountain bikers and the recreation community depend on public lands and thoughtful conservation,” Executive Director Dave Wiens said in a statement. “Public lands are being threatened at an unprecedented level right now, and it’s imperative that public land users come together to protect these cherished places.”

‘Bikes … don’t float’ Continue reading