Cormack’s Trail Retraced (1970 Trip)
By N.R. Williams
Note: This piece was originally assembled by N. R. Williams, prepared for presentation to the Newfoundland Historical society St. John’s, Newfoundland, 28th May 1971. Special thanks for Roger Andrews and Terry Martin. Permission was granted to Sledworthy by Gail Williams McLauchlan, daughter of N. R. Williams to re-publish the piece for all to enjoy.
Mr. President, Ladies and gentlemen.
In his introduction to the Centenary issue of “Narrative of a Journey Across the Island of Newfoundland in 1822”, F.A. Burton suggests that this romantic story is one of the classics of the literature of Newfoundland and a priceless heritage for the children of the Island. That was in 1928 and I believe that this appraisal of Cormack’s account of his remarkable journey is just as true today but perhaps unfortunately, not greatly appreciated.
I became acquainted with the book as a school boy some 12 years after its publication. Apparently, at that time a spark of desire to do more than just vicariously enjoy Cormack’s courageous adventure was kindled. Periodically, over the years I had explored the possibility of attempting a duplication of Cormack’s feat. Various impediments however, prevented realization of this ambition.
This school-boy desire was further strengthened during five years of forest surveying in remote areas of the interior during the late forties and early fifties. During this time, I was part of a team employed in surveying and mapping the timber limits of Price (Nfld.) Pulp & Paper Limited, then the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, Limited.
Possibly few people realize today that an accurate map of the interior of Newfoundland was not available until about 1955. It was then made possible because of aerial photo coverage of the Island.
Prior to this much of the interior had been filled in from industries’ timber and mineral surveys and railway surveys but since our job was to complete the mapping of A.N.D. timber holdings we were always operating in unknown country mapping as we went. A highlight of this experience was the winter of 1947 spent in the Middle Ridge – Kepenkeck Lake area where I had a chance to see part of Cormack’s “savanna”, Mount Sylvester and some of the other landmarks mentioned by Cormack.
Despite my considerable field time, this was my only opportunity to see any appreciable amount of the area traversed by Cormack. Except for the first few miles west of his starting point, the route taken by Cormack was very largely through unforested country, mostly far removed from the commercially important forest areas of the Province. Therefore, despite up to nine months at a stretch under canvas in many of the main river valleys of Central Newfoundland, I had, up to now, little opportunity to see “Cormack’s country”.
Consequently, far from getting satiated with the interior as some of my friends suggest I should have, after almost 30 years of association with various aspects of my Company’s forestry operations, my fascination had grown. In recent years, however, my primary motive in desiring to see the whole of Cormack route has been to compare it with his description of a century and a half ago and to enjoy the prolonged solitude and beauty of this wonderful part of Newfoundland’s almost untrodden ways.
It was not until this winter that one evening I impulsively suggested to Dr. Ross Martin, a friend, that we should attempt to traverse Cormack’s route by snowmobile.
We realized that this would be a poor substitute for doing it on foot during the bare-ground period of the year. Nevertheless, the prospect of doing this excited us greatly and despite some not inconsequential logistic problems our enthusiasm grew and grew. Before long there was a total of eight selected from those who wanted to go. The others were: George Hutchings, bank manager, Mel Andrews, grocery store owner; Temple Baird, hotel owner; Bert Frampton, logging superintendent; Bruce Allan, drive-in movie owner; and Glen Evans, mechanic.
All of these people are keen outdoors types with varying degrees of snowmobile experience and three of us through training and long experience, are expert in map and land navigation. In addition to Glen Evans’ mechanical training and specialization in Ski-Doo maintenance, Bruce Allen is a mechanical maintenance expert as well as a former racing car driver. In addition, cookery expertise was represented in Messrs. Baird and Andrews, while Dr. Martin came well equipped for possible medical emergencies. We had, therefore, assembled a team combining all the requisite skills and, in addition, all were very keen to undertake the journey.
We realized that experience in map reading and travelling by compass would be of prime importance. There would be no roads or trails to follow and it would be essential to find and follow openings through the frequent scrub timber areas we would encounter, while at the same time staying as close as possible to Cormack’s plotting of his route.
For most of the route Forest Service aerial photo coverage proved invaluable aids in avoiding cutting. A little reflection quickly brings the realization that excessive trail cutting had to be avoided in order to realize our Objective in a reasonable time.
Advanced planning also had to include plans for overcoming such physical obstacles as open brooks, steep slopes, and the logistic problems of food, shelter and gasoline requirements.
Consideration of the latter showed in that seven of our eight Ski-Doos would be required to haul sleds with starting loads of 300 – 400 lbs. and, in addition, gasoline would have to be provided at the Bay d’Espoir Road and at two remote locations along the route. Since the latter two locations were off-highway at Lake Ebbegunbaeg and George IV Lake, a gasoline airlift was required. After considerable scrounging this was finally arranged in exchange for a data collection chore we gladly did enroute.
We also decided to attempt obtaining a two-way radio for possible emergency use and to request an emergency wild1ife procurement permit. In addition, it was necessary to obtain permission to traverse the Wilderness area. All of these were obtained but the radio subsequently failed to work and, though food rationing was necessitated for two days, wildlife was not molested in any way.
I should mention, too, that a 1902 large-scale official map of Newfoundland proved invaluable since it contained Cormack’s route as plotted from his own remarkably accurate celestial observations during his hike. The route was transferred from this old map to modern large-scale topographic map sheets with the aid of landmarks mapped by Cormack and we were amazed at the fit which resulted. Cormack’s survey talents were equal to his other proven repertoire of skills.
In order to stay within the necessary weight limitations, gear and provisions had to be budgeted properly and confined to essential items only. Two tourist type tents without provision for heating, a specially constructed chuck wagon, two Coleman lanterns, two Coleman stoves, 18 five-gallon containers of gasoline, sleeping bags, air mattresses, a kit bag for each person and food supplies.
This was hauled by three 1970 Nordics, two 1969 Nordics, two 1967 Olympics, and a 1971 Elan. All of these are Bombardier ski-Doos and the Elan is a very small economical machine which few thought would be rugged enough for the trip.
At the start, four of our sleds were home-made models and the other three were ski-doo accessories. Temple Baird had a very rugged locking home-made metal sled on which he mounted the all-metal chuck wagon. Despite the fact that this unit looked the most rugged of the group, by the time we reached the Bay d’Espoir Road it had been practically demolished. This, apparently, resulted from its rigid, non-flexible construction as opposed to the wooden home-made sleds and the ski-mounted commercial models. There is no doubt that the factory-made ski-mounted sleighs are most suitable for this type of ski-dooing. Even the Wooden steel reinforced home-made sleighs suffered greatly from wear and breakage.
Except for the sleigh problems and the uncomfortable nature of sleeping on the floor of unheated tents our gear and equipment generally were adequate. Small lightweight wood-burning stoves would have added to tenting comfort but they had been omitted because of bulk. Glen Evans’ selection of the spare parts for the machine mix proved to be very close to the need.
In the area of cooking we had one cooked meal each evening after pitching tent for the night. Temple Baird’s experience in the hotel business helped considerably in adding to our pleasant memories of the trip. However, after eight days we were beginning to experience some food rationing and this could have worsened considerably except for a fortuitous replenishing at Lake Ebbegunbaeg.
Despite early-winter ideal Ski-Dooing conditions mild, weather that amounted to a partial break-up (a February thaw) had removed much of the snow and broken up rivers by the time we were ready to depart. In fact, it appeared very doubtful that we would be able to do the section from the east coast to the Bay d’Espoir Road, the first 100 miles. In retrospect, we would never have attempted this section had we known that at least 75% of it was over bare ground, much of it frozen ‘gouldwithy’ knobs that were very rough on the machines.
Incidentally, I have recently read an account of Ralph Plaisted’s attempt to drive ski-doo snowmobiles from Eureka, an outdoor weather station on Ellesmere Island to the North Pole. Though much more elaborately equipped, it is interesting to note that this group also consisted of eight people and eight Ski-Doos and the crew composition was similar to ours. This expedition failed some 380 miles short of the Pole due to ice crack-up resulting from severe storms.
Following is a short diary of our trip:
We left Grand Falls at 6:30 a.m. and arrived at our departure point, some 200 yards west of Thorburn Lake overpass, at 11:00 a.m. We had decided not to do the first 20 miles of Cormack’s route since it traversed heavy timbered country which, due to its proximity to communities in the area, was within the reach of anyone and therefore not of great interest to us.
In order to save time in getting away from the coast we had decided to accept the guiding service of Wallace Adams and his son, David, of Milton, for the first leg through the forest and across Southwest River (Cormack’s Clode Sound River) to the edge of the “Big Country”. This, apparently, is the local name for the beginning of the interior barrens or Cormack’s savannas.
This first 14 miles was very rugged and when the Adams’ left us in the late p.m. at the edge of the savannas, David said, Good-bye now, we’ll see you tomorrow. He expected us to quit.
Our first campsite was a wet frozen, grassy spot in the lee of a scrub spruce island near the Spot where Cormack remarked, “In the west, to our inexpressible delight, the interior broke in sublimity before us. What a contrast did this present to the conjectures entertained of Newfoundland! The hitherto mysterious interior lay unfolded below us, a boundless scene, an emerald surface, a vast basin. The eye strides again and again over a succession of northerly and southerly ranges of green plains, marbled with woods and lakes of every form and extent, a picture of all the luxurious scenes of national cultivation, receding into invisibleness.
I think we experienced something of Cormack’s feeling at this point when he observed, “Primitiveness, omnipotence, and tranquility were stamped upon everything so forcibly that the mind is hurled back thousands of years and the man left denuded of the mental fabric which a knowledge of ages of human experience and of time may have reared within him”.
Today we traversed 25 miles of savanna country which was less than 10% snow covered. Consequently, we tried to keep to the grassy parts of the bogs, along the snow-covered fringes of scrubby islands and utilized old icy deer paths whenever possible.
Alternating rain and wet snow began falling in the afternoon and we tented early but not before becoming quite wet. At this point we were amazed that the machines had stood up so well on the rough frozen ground. However, Glen’s machine had a damaged sprocket and would now have to be nursed along until it gave out altogether.
By this time each had sort of found his place in the column and would stay in this travelling position for the rest of the journey.
After setting camp Temple broke out two bottles of Champagne to celebrate the anticipated arrival of a grandchild. Our one radio receiver had been broken the first day and we were, therefore, unable to get the news from outside.
We saw our first wildlife today; a small herd of caribou and one moose.
Due to the slow going we were using a lot of plugs and Glen, as part of his nightly ski-doo check-up, began his first round of boiling’ plugs to clean them so that they could be reused.
Temp’s Jiggs dinner was welcome as we sat around our huge open fire. Our nightly open fires were fed by several sled loads of dry, barkless larch, still standing though killed in a larch sawfly epidemic which had temporarily decimated this species in the early 1920’s.
Two miniature power saws proved invaluable for making camp and providing the large quantities of dry wood to enable comfortable outdoor eating, for drying out wet clothing and to facilitate relaxing in reasonable comfort prior to bed time.
Each evening, Glen and Bruce thoroughly checked, gassed, and made necessary repairs to all machines.
At nightfall we were very concerned that overnight rain would remove the remaining snow and make the going all but impossible. What a hike we would then have!
We did 26 very tough miles today and at several points it was doubtful if we could get through the rough, almost bare terrain. Many times, we had to wait while Bert scouted ahead with his lightmachine to find passable ground.
Our tent site was three-quarters of a mile west of Eastern Meelpaeg on the shore of a small pond.
At noon we had our first glimpse of Mount Sylvester in the west and this was a welcome sight.
Only wildlife seen was a red fox.
In describing the savanna country traversed, Cormack said, “They are in the form of extensive gently undulating beds, stretching northward and southward, with running waters and lakes, skirted with woods, lying between them. Their yellow-green surfaces are sometimes uninterrupted by either tree, shrub, rocks or any inequality, for more than ten miles. They are checkered everywhere upon the surface by deep beaten deer-paths, and are in reality magnificent natural deer-paths, adorned by woods and water“.
Because of the lack of snow, we were able to see this picturesque terrain almost as Cormack saw it. However; whereas Cormack and Sylvester had the problem of skirting around the numerous ‘flashets’ and small ponds we welcomed these frozen bodies of water as they were a break from the bare ground for which snow mobiles were not designed.
Bruce suffered a painful twisted ankle which Dr. Martin expertly immobilized.
By early afternoon the possibility of reaching the Bay d’Espoir Road before nightfall seemed very probable. Then, suddenly, just beyond Middle Ridge, Glen’s ski-doo became completely immobilized as the front and rear drive sprockets broke off. About a half hour after abandoning it with the intention of coming back the seven miles from the Bay d’Espoir Road at night and towing it in for repairs next day, a helicopter suddenly appeared. The pilot, knowing some of our party, decided to detour slightly from his route to check us out. An alert number of our crew suggested that he could be of service by air lifting the ski-doo ahead to the road for us. Some of us objected to this kind of help at first but later agreed for the sake of expediency and ten minutes later the helicopter flew overhead towards the west with our lame Ski-Doo dangling from a rope. This saved a night-long towing effort for at least two tired ski-dooists.
At 6:00p.m. we had arrived at the road, having travelled 37 miles; the last 15 miles of which proved to be good going with a fair snow cover and almost all open, level savanna of the soft-bog type.
Another highlight of this day was the steep climb over the north flank of Mount Sylvester. Climbing this unforested, steep, irregular slope was an alternative to cutting a long distance through dense scrub spruce timber.
It was of today’s traverse that Cormack wrote, “In the whole of this savanna territory, which forms the eastern-central portion of the interior, there rises but one mountain, which is a solitary peak or pap of granite, standing very conspicuous about forty-five miles north from the mouth of the West Salmon River of Fortune Bay on the south coast. It served as an object by which to check our course and distance for about two weeks. I named it Mount Sylvester, the name of my Indian. The bed of granite of which Mount Sylvester is a part, is exposed in a remarkable manner to the northeast of that pap near Gower Lake. Here are displayed the features of the summit of an immense mountain mass, as if just peeping above the earth; huge blocks of red, pink, and gray granite, often very coarsely grained, and of quarts, compact and granular, lie in cumbrous and confused heaps, ‘like the ruins of a world’, over which we had to climb, leap, slide, and creep.”
In our case we had the additional problem of getting the heavily laden Ski-Doos over these obstacles.
Five caribou and two moose were seen on this leg and there were considerable additional caribou tracks over much of the area. One dead caribou was found but decomposition was too advanced to determine why it died.
Several wives and friends met us at the road during the late evening and brought the first outside news since departure, including confirmation that Temple was a grandfather. They had responded to a telephone call from our helicopter friend. We also learned, as expected, that our being two days overdue and no radio contact had caused some concern.
Our total mileage now, according to Dr. Martin’s Ski-Doo odometer was 103 miles.
Breaking camp was delayed until 2:00 p.m. due to awaiting the arrival of necessary spare parts and machine repairs. Despite the late departure and the necessity of ‘picking’ our way through 4 or 5 miles of mature timber lands before reaching rather open, boulder strewn, scrubby spruce barren, we managed 18 miles.
We saw 10 caribou and one moose along this day’s route.
Camping for the night in an exposed location on the side of a small lake east of Newfoundland Dog Pond was not too comfortable but a special Swiss steak dinner by moonlight made up for the chilly wind.
Snow cover was now complete, averaging 6″ in depth, so we travelled with much less concern for the machines, not to mention more comfort for the riders.
A total of 116 caribou was observed today in six sub-herds of 3 to 40 and, in addition, tracks of other groups were seen at about one-mile intervals.
We were surprised at the complete lack of lynx tracks today and the scarcity of rabbits and fox. Lynx have been scarce throughout.
Twenty miles were “clocked” by the time a midday mug-up was taken at the foot of Mount Cormack. The country side is a picturesque combination of scrub spruce islands and the ‘hard’ barren type of savanna with many pap-like outcrops.
In the early afternoon peculiar exposed “crushed gravel” patches were encountered just north of Sitdown Pond and Serpentine Lake. Cormack said of the latter. “It is known to the Micmac Indian by the Indian name for it. Stone Pipe Lake, from their procuring here verde antique, and other magnesian rocks out of which they carve or chiseled tobacco pipes, much prized by them.” A subsequent array of rock samples brought out by us showed that they were serpentine. This confirmed that Cormack had known his geology for in addition to renaming the lake he also said, “The other rocks were: noble serpentine, varying in colour from black-green to yellow, and from translucent to semi-transparent, in strata nearly a yard wide; steatite, or soapstone, verde antique, dillage, and various other magnesian rocks.” He also noted that in the same area could be found “Sterile red earthy patches, entirely destitute of vegetation, were here and there on and adjacent to the ridge, and on these lay heaps of loose fragments of asbestos, rock-wood, rock-cork, rock-leather, rock-horn, rock-bone, and stones light in the hand, resembling burnt clay, with many others; the whole having the appearance of heaps of rubbish from a pottery, but evidently detached from adjoining strata and veins. I could not divest myself of the feeling that we were in the vicinity of a quiescent volcano.” Some of these features were not readily visible to us due to the snow.
Soon after departing this interesting area, relatively, heavy timber was encountered requiring two hours of trail cutting and plenty of pushing man-power in the accompanying ‘salty’ snow. This necessitated camping short of our objective, Great Burnt Lake, but the 32 miles covered was a good distance nevertheless.
Overnight driving rain and hail passed quickly but not before virtually collapsing one of our ‘motels’.
For the first time rather extensive forests with some small interspersal of excellent timber barred the way. The larger trees proved to have been 60 – 70 years old when Cormack passed by. The timber was combined with a rather steep adverse-grade ridge which at one point necessitated the use of block and tackle and the full crew to work the machines up and over after clearing a route.
In total, despite a determined, tiring dawn-to-dusk effort our best today was five miles.
Two almost certain serious injuries were narrowly averted today on separate occasions as some rather risky high speed climbing attempts resulted in machines being unexpectedly diverted from the intended route. In one case George did a quick unplanned ‘roll away’ and in the second instance I instinctively avoided a charging machine as it unexpectedly went momentarily out of control.
Realizing that our larder could not stand too many days with such little progress we retired for the night just a few miles southwest of Gulp Pond, hoping that such difficult conditions did not extend too far.
We were now seven days out, and at 158 miles, less than half way across the route.
Even with Temple’s well rigged blocks and our best combined efforts on the rope, plus ‘boughing’ for track footing, we barely got the machines over the steep grades again today.
Had to divert to Crooked Lake this a.m. It was reached just before noon after cutting through several timber patches, the last of which was down a steep grade. This had to be boughed and the machines lowered down with the aid of rope wrapped around a tree.
After crossing the lake and getting through its limby, short spruce fringe we encountered other extensive scrub timber tracts which required scouting on foot to find passable routes and several times forced retreat. In the end our attempted overland route to Meelpaeg Lake failed and we diverted via Lake Ebbegunbaeg to spend the night as guests of a four-man Newfoundland Power Commission outpost crew. Their hospitality was superb!
We had covered 23 miles, much of which required considerable cutting and pushing.
For the first time we saw considerable evidence of the relatively rare, large Arctic hare, plus moose, rabbit and ptarmigan tracks. The latter two, though scarce enroute, have been very plentiful at lower elevations this winter.
As on most days, enough minor problems occurred to aggregate considerable delay time.
Today we elected to take advantage of the easier travelling offered by Meelpaeg Lake and Granite Lake, where we found our first gas cache, and not too soon. Due to flooding for power development, Meelpaeg, always big, rocky and full of islands, is now a huge expanse of uncluttered water with a timbered fringe.
This relatively easy, but frigid, route enabled an 85-mile advance to a hunting camp on Sprucy Lake. This was our second chance to dry wet clothing and sleeping bags but space was at a minimum.
Wildlife was scarce and this is not surprising since both the caribou and moose move to more favourable winter ranges with the arrival of the heavy snowfalls which are a characteristic of this high, exposed terrain.
In looking ahead at this point we were able to confirm Cormack’s comments that, “In the west, mountain succeeds mountain in irregular succession, rugged and bleak… Immediately on the west, they are succeeded by gneiss, and next to that comes the hungry granitic territory, still almost as barren to imagination as at the creation.” were very accurate. He was referring to the range we now call the Annieopsquotch Mountains, which he, thanks to Sylvester’s wisdom, detoured around to the south.
This area will one day be a winter resort as it is ideal for all snow sports and has space for multitudes of such outdoor enthusiasts.
Eight inches of light snow overnight, constant drifting all day and the steady uphill climb made going difficult and tested our endurance despite the very open, larch spotted, country side.
In late afternoon, ski-doo trouble forced George to abandon the chuck wagon, which he had towed with his Elan from the Bay d’Espoir Road. Bert and I rescued it after finding a suitable camp for the night on a branch of Lloyd’s River just south of George IV Lake. George’s little machine had been subjected to rough usage but would now require careful handling to reach the coast.
For the third time we did not need our tents and the relatively comfortable hunting lodge and a wood stove provided welcome relief from the raging blizzard outside.
Of the country seen today, and he also saw it clothed in snow, Cormack said, “The western territory is entirely primitive.” And again, “The trees, all vegetating upon peat, are often forced in this region to assume new features. The larch in particular will grow: in spite of the nipping blasts: and where it is not permitted to rise erect on the mountain-top as it does on the lower stations, it creeps along the ground to leeward, where neither birch nor spruce can exist. It is thus sometimes only a few inches in height, and many feet in length. The spruce thickets are often only a few feet in height: the trees hooked and entangled together in such a manner as to render it practicable to walk upon them… And of the land forms, “As we advanced westward, the aspect of the country became more dreary, and the primitive features more boldly marked. Pointed mountains of coarse red granite, standing apart, lay in all directions northerly and southerly of each other. Most of them were partially shrouded with firs, bald, and capped with snow.”
Cormack’s descriptive words fit just as well today.
Of this country Cormack also said. “We encamped at night at the southern extremity of what is said by my Indians to be the most southerly lake of the interior frequented by the Red Indians, through which was the main source-branch of the River Exploits… I named the lake in honour of His Majesty George the Fourth.”
We refilled our machines and gas cans today at our second and final cache and this must take us to the coast.
Left came at day break but with visibility almost nil we retreated soon after and finally had to spend the day in camp.
We were now concerned about not being able to get the machines through the Long Range Mountains with this additional handicap of a fresh foot or more of snow.
Food is again in short supply and heavy going in the mountains will consume a lot of gas quickly.
Left camp at 6:30 a.m. and despite deep loose snow and several retreats which led us north of the trail we made fair time. Around noon, after a long, hard climb, we went over the top of Cairn Mountain and got an exciting, at times hair raising, gravitational lift down to Cross Pond. At this point a sudden drop-off could have been disastrous.
Again Cormack’s description is very apropos. “For nearly twenty miles to the westward of George the Fourth’s Lake, the country is very bare, there being scarcely a thicket of wood.” Add a 6-10 foot high driving blizzard to that and a sub-zero temperature and it would admirably describe our morning’s environment.
It was of this area that Cormack also noted, The descent was now very precipitous and craggy…By sliding down rill-courses, and traversing the steeps, we found ourselves with whole bones, but many bruises, at the bottom.” It was fortunate that by now we had acquired a fair level of skill in handling our mechanical horses.
Later problems included almost impassable hills, a ski-doo through the ice, other dangerous crossings on partly open steadies, and finally the risks inherent in travelling in drifting snow and darkness through treacherous unknown country.
Finally at 9:30 p.m., after travelling 61 miles, we reached Steel Mountain Lodge near St. George’s, and only just in time as our gas supply was very low.
Since no better accommodations were available at the Lodge we accepted the owner’s offer of the floor as a welcomed alternative to setting up our tents once more.
Having now, virtually reached our objective, we shared considerable exhilaration at having accomplished a very difficult, challenging task. Our sufferings were immeasurably less than those of Cormack and his reluctant Sylvester but we had, nevertheless, overcome a fair share of physical obstacles. Our success in getting all eight machines through seemed a bit of a miracle to all of us but perhaps the greater surprise to Glen, our excellent young mechanic, was that we really were not lost after all.
Cormack felt that his success was due primarily to the smallness of his party; we believe our success was due to having a varied, skilled, well conditioned, compatible team of eight. The difficult spots required that number for reasonable speed in trail cutting and to haul the machines up the otherwise impassable slopes encountered.
Recently we have heard and read impassioned, unrealistic demands for the stringent limiting of snowmobile use. These well-meaning but obviously misinformed people apparently feel that a high percentage of outdoors people generally, and snowmobile users particularly, are vandals and poachers. They are wrong in this, of course, and they are also immeasurably wrong in the visions of environmental damage potential they dream up. In fact, if they should succeed in gaining the limitations they advocate, the few poacher-vandals who would ignore the law anyway, would not be policed as they are now, in effect, by the vastly superior numbers of normal people.
Let us not be panicked into prohibitions that would deprive vast numbers of our nature loving citizens from enjoying the natural beauty and physical challenges of our more remote wilderness areas which have a special way of refreshing our senses, stimulating our minds, and soothing our troubled spirits.