Monday, April 11, 2011
Diary of a Wilderness Dweller by Chris Czajkowski
I have always been somewhat of a loner, but it is often misunderstood as being a) snooty or b) depressed, neither of which could be farther from the truth. So to find kindred spirits in authors who can share their pursuit of solitude with me (in a book, at least) is a real treat. Chris Czajkowski wrote Diary of a Wilderness Dweller to record her dream of building a wilderness retreat twenty miles from the nearest road on a unnamed lake high in the mountains of British Columbia. She spent the better part of three years felling trees, notching logs, and slicing planks with the 'mill' attachment on her chainsaw to flesh out two log cabins from the surrounding landscape. Whatever she couldn't make herself, she either hiked in on her back, or had flown in on a float plane. And in 1990 Chris Czajkowski welcomed her first guests to the Nuk Tessli Alpine Experience a backcountry hiker's dream escape. What a remarkable endeavor. What a remarkable woman.
Despite its openness, the country was not all that easy to travel through because the meadows were boggy enough to make walking in them uncomfortable and, on dry ground, rock, windfall, and the tangled spreading skirts of the balsam fir were constant obstacles. The first foray into a new country always takes more time than subsequent trips, particularly as I followed every curve of the swelling creek which put more miles onto the journey that it might have. Thus it was two and a half days after leaving home before I finally stood on the shores of "my lake." It was, however, everything I had imagined: golden sun, blue water, white mountains, and the clean, fresh wind from the snows. pg 5
People are always asking me why I live the way I do. There is no "why." I like the idea, opportunities have come my way, and so - why not? I am not "sacrificing" the outside world - far from it. I am well aware that I am inexorably linked to it and no less dependent on it than anyone else. pg 88
And silence. Most people seem to tolerate a lot of noise. But for my first two years in Canada I inhabited a converted sauna in a rural area close to Salmon Arm, B.C. I was two miles from the Trans-Canada Highway and could just hear it. It was always there, on the edge of my consciousness, and it drove me crazy. pg 89
. . . I love the quiet and tiny sounds of nature. pg 89
But it is wonderful to be home at last. The quiet; the freedom of thought: it is only here that my mind can range unfettered. Only here that other things don't constantly pick away at its edges. pg 133