New Places Or Getting To Know One Wild Place Well?

This is an old, old debate between outdoors people:

Which is better, going to different places, being inspired by new natural settings OR getting to know one wild place really really well?

Both are good philosophies.  New, different, inspiring places and activities spark curiosity and require adaptability.  And that’s excellent.  It’s good to get out of your comfort zone.

But learning a somewhat wild place (a place that has no trails and no water and no bathrooms) and getting to know everything about it is very cool too.  That inspires confidence and a love for the outdoors, a love for place.

So, basically, are curiosity and adaptability more important than confidence and love?  I’d say they’re both important, good and noble. But which one is more so?
I definitely shade toward the fewer locations.  Jennie, the girls, and I have spent large quantities of time in Yosemite Valley (CA), at the Sisters Boulders (Central OR Desert), at The Columns (Eugene, OR), and on the Willamette River (OR).
By going back to these locations over and over, we’ve gotten to know the plants and animals, the prevailing winds, the hidden places in the rimrock, the river holes that hold trout, the birds that nest in certain Ponderosa Pines.  So immersion has led to deeper understanding.
The latter three locations also fall more into a localist ethic, that it’s better to adventure near your home than to spend inordinate amounts of money and resources to adventure across the globe.
But that’s another debate…
I’d love anyone to weigh in on either of these.
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4 thoughts on “New Places Or Getting To Know One Wild Place Well?

  1. I like the idea of getting to know a few wild places very well. Who couldn’t enjoy getting to know Yosemite better and better? I lived in the area for 18 years and spent some quality time there. My sons climbed the mountains, Half Dome, El Capitan. We hiked the trails and frolicked in the shallow streams. Swam in Cherry Lake. Yosemite makes me feel close to God. But now we live in Indiana so I have to find new places to get to know. There are beautiful spots here too and in nearby Tennessee and Kentucky. I find comfort and safety in revisiting and knowing familiar places rather than always exploring new ones. But sometimes necessity requires us to find new places, not just a desire for change. Still I like the idea of studying an area, knowing it, knowing the wildlife, the birds, the water sources. Better yet is to live in a woodsy wonderland like I do. Close to civilization, but in an oasis of natural old woods, full of creatures and critters aplenty. I find myself content in such settings. I am most at home in the woods. I enjoy visiting the seashore, the mountains, the desert, and even the plains, but the woods is what I love. Another wonderful place that is a rival to Yosemite for me is Cades Cove in the Smokies near the sleepy village of Townsend, TN. Need to go back there.

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    • I love your specifics and the sentences: “Still I like the idea of studying an area, knowing it, knowing the wildlife, the birds, the water sources. Better yet is to live in a woodsy wonderland like I do. Close to civilization, but in an oasis of natural old woods, full of creatures and critters aplenty.” Beautiful. Thank you. – P

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  2. It’s like the pendulum in a grandfather clock; sometimes I want to go back to the Teanaway, explore a new trail or a new way off the trail, see what’s blooming today, how much water makes up the river, and what the mountain goats are doing, but other times I’m filled with the urge to go some place new. I don’t think either is really more important than the other, it’s a balance that’s important and necessary. I think your yearnings will tell you which is appropriate for any given trip.

    But I do think it’s vital to explore new ground in a broad sense, to find the areas that capture your heart.

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    • Nice image with the pendulum. I go back and forth too. Like I said, I’d love other opinions on the topic since I can never make up my mind.

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