Simply put, time spent in the wild is time well spent. Wandering the landscape is what we were made for, and the wild always rewards this. Whether it's an attempt to discover, to gather, to heal, or to learn, one can find just about anything they're looking for while out exploring our natural world. I would say that I find myself searching for all of these things depending on the time of year or how I'm feeling.
Venturing out into nature might be out of necessity or for personal pleasure, but in either case, the memories we're given in return seem to check both boxes. For me, it does not matter if I'm alone or there to share these memories with others, there's purpose in it all.
Exploring the countryside with others can build lasting relationships and strengthen the bond of friendship. Experiences created as a group can heighten great memories and lift up the ones that perhaps we'd rather forget. Whatever the purpose of the trip, sharing it with a partner adds dimension and sometimes even a higher meaning for why you're there.
Being alone in the wilderness on the contrary is a journey of self exploration. Many times the physical and mental struggles of being alone leaves oneself pondering why they're out there to begin with. Often times it leaves me thinking what the point of putting myself through these challenges is if I have no one to share the memories with.
What I've learned however is that when you find yourself in these types of situations, you discover who you really are. The knowledge I gain about myself through these hard times becomes infinitely valuable when facing challenges in life. The memories I create alone I think give me strength and ground me in what's most important.
I often wonder what the land has witnessed prior to my visit. I'm fascinated by what memories others have created in years past or even centuries past. I wonder how many of these stories go untold and which ones I'm unaware of. I reflect on my own memories often as well. Many of these personal experiences have become vague in my thoughts, drowned out by the sheer number that I have. It makes me realize that many of my own memories have most likely gone untold as well.
Watch the process unfold through my YouTube video:
I was inspired to paint this scene after stumbling across what I thought would make a perfect camp. The storm clouds swept over the bright green valley's floor, illuminated by the sunset and creating a perfect view of the landscape. Shortly thereafter, I discovered an old fire ring grown over with moss and grass. Someone had the same idea at some point long ago.
In this painting I imagine a freshly made camp with the fire just started. Is it a solo explorer or a group expedition? To that I'm unsure, but it intrigues me to wonder. In either scenario I'm sure that the memories made will be well worth it.
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I'm Chuck Black, landscape and wildlife artist based in Southwest Montana.