Diamon (second from the right) and Wild Gift fellows following a goat trail with Big Boulder Lakes in the distance.
The designation of the Boulder-White Clouds as Wilderness in Central Idaho, until 2015, was a decades-long battle between the mining industry, interest groups, and conservationists. Forgive me for not being born, but until last September, I’d never heard of this place and if I’m being completely honest, no one ever mentioned Idaho either- though, of course, I’d heard of it. My introduction to Idaho and my first ever Wilderness experience came after being selected as a Wild Gift fellow. Wild Gift’s mission is to connect and empower environmental entrepreneurs through immersive wilderness experiences. And that it did.
Diamon enjoying a rope swing over Walker Lake, one of Idaho’s many alpine lakes
My 20-day trek through wildland was punctuated by hot springs and forever smelling of sulfur, drinking sweet glacial water, seeing elk, mountains goats and hearing wolves! I braved snow, smoky wildfires, fields of scree, and 11,000 ft climb. The physical toll of the trek on my body was a constant battle, but the war was mental. Of course, I thought about getting myself through each mile, but I also thought a lot about home- about Baltimore. It wasn’t that I missed home or that I wanted to go back in those hard moments, I thought about how much I wished my city could see Idaho, Wilderness, and time sitting still. It hit me hard the first time I ventured out of my tent in the middle of the night, looked up, and saw space. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life and I smiled knowing my ancestors traversed across this nation for freedom reading galactic maps.
Diamon day-6 at Karma Basin preparing for camp with the Lunar Solo set with trekking pole.
Now several months removed, I reflect a lot on what I experienced. Especially since it was so unique for someone like me- a person of color from the inner city. In Maryland, only about 10% of state park visitors represent people of color. Why that is, is complicated and it even has a name- the adventure gap. That’s another article, for another day. But I’ll say that I recognize the privilege I have and acknowledge the issues of equity I’ve been empowered to address. This expedition checked off many “firsts” for me. It was my first time backpacking, really camping, owning gear (including the Lunar Solo), hiking extensively, and being off the grid as a digital native. I nailed it, though.
Diamon and trek-mate, Sashti B., overlooking the Big Boulder Chain Lakes.
And that’s the one thing I’d like to share- outside is for everyone. I will forever hold, teach, and preach that. So, that’s it. I don’t have any tips or tricks, but I hope I’ve inspired someone, especially someone that looks like me, to accept the journey. Try a little Wilderness.
All photos were taken by Marty Schnure (IG: @martyschnure)