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Wilderness Volunteer Projects, Why You Need to Go

I’m so excited to share news! This weekend, I will embark on my first wilderness volunteer project with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. It’s a week-long backpacking and backcountry camping trip in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. Myself and a couple other volunteers, and our crew leader, will hike 22 miles to Danaher Mountain and fight invasive plant species.

Bob Marshall Foundation Wilderness Volunteer Project Map from Denver, Colorado to Donaher Mountain, Montana+PIN

The map of my travels from Denver, Colorado to Ovando, Montana where I will meet the rest of my group’s volunteers, caravan to the trailhead and set off on our 22 mile hike to Danaher Mountain in the Bob.

I practically exploded with happiness when I told Mike about this trip. Then he looked at me deadpan, and said, “But why?” Next, I called my mom with the news, giddy all over again. She asked too, “Is there an ulterior motive for this?” The people closest to me wanted an answer to the same question. Why do I want to drive 1,700 miles round trip to spend a week in the woods pulling weeds?

Well, I’m not about to list three, five, or even ten reasons why I decided to become a wilderness volunteer, or why you should too. Nope, not this post, because my reasons are bigger than numbers and lists. In fact, call it a cop-out, but I’m going to let Edward Abbey answer this one:

“But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need–if only we had eyes to see.”

What Does the ‘Wilderness’ Mean?

Scroll through Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr, and you’re easily overwhelmed with images #wildernessculture, #wildermind, #wildernesssociety. But what does the wilderness really mean?

These are honest questions behind my motivation to become a wilderness volunteer. I think, probably more than ever, we want to be uncomfortable, insecure, even a little scared. Our lives are often planned, controlled, even predictable. The wilderness seems like it can be our last refuge, even though by definition, the wilderness isn’t meant for us.

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” — The Wilderness Act of 1964

How to Become a Wilderness Volunteer

Maybe your reason is to recenter, to give back, to learn, to challenge yourself–what the heck, you don’t need a reason! Here’s how to register for a volunteer project with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. There a million other ways to volunteer, not just in Montana! You don’t have to go away for a week either, if that’s not your calling. The BMWF welcomes volunteers for a weekend, and many other organizations need help just for a day.

For now, if you’re really in need of inspiration, just watch this incredible, short film, “Being Here: An Ode to the Wild Places” by Hilary Oliver.

I’ll be back in about ten days, and can’t wait to tell you guys all about my first experience as a wilderness volunteer in The Bob!