A week alone in the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Robin Greenfield holding a canoe over his head, standing by the water.
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Written the night prior to embarking:

I am off into the wilderness to experience connection I have been yearning for decades.

I have journeyed long distances across my country and the world. I have traveled solo for months at a time. I have gone deep into the wilderness with others. But as many times as I have dreamed it up, I have never been alone in the wilderness for more than a couple days.
Today, I am paddling and stepping into a dream.

I am paddling into the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota for a week alone. This is one of the great wilderness areas of the world, and this time of year there are far fewer people here. I have plans to find a spot where I will not see another human for at least four days, the longest deep solitude of my life. I will spend days in silence, the longest silence of my 35 years. I will arrive here through miles of paddling and portaging my canoe between lakes, rivers and forest.

I will eat the simple whole foods – dried grains, lentils, nuts, seeds and herbs – I have brought, along with the fish that I will catch and the few plants and fungi that I may forage. I have enough food to be comfortable and only food that will nourish my body. I have the basics with me and a couple of educational books to read. No way to reach the outside world or to be reached.
I will exist simply.
I will rest.
I will heal.
I will be as one with Earth as I have been in quite some time.
I will likely cry out tears of joy…. of relief… and perhaps of loneliness.

Time of this quality is at the essence of my quality existence on this Earth.
This is time of deep healing. No coordination, no misunderstandings or misperceptions, no explaining, no overstimulation from the business of society.
Through this quality existence I find the strength, balance and the dedication to live in service to Earth and humanity.

If you think of me this week, think of fresh air, clean water, pure food, our plant and animal relatives and all the healing elements of Earth. Seek this contentment with me, wherever you are, for it can be found anywhere through deep natural practice.

I’ll be returning on the last calendar day of summer and you will hear from me then.

Written one day after returning:

I’m back from a week in the wilderness!

50 miles of paddling and portaging in the water and woods.
7 days without seeing a screen, not even a clock. My only electronic, a headlamp and battery.
7 days of simple whole foods and fish I caught – no processed foods or sugar.
5 days of silence. The longest silence of my life.
3 days without seeing another human, and few humans the entire week.

I was surprisingly not lonely. I didn’t yearn for anything I didn’t have. I felt content and complete. I barely thought about social media or emails. I managed to be quite present in the moment.

I spent a lot of time with my friends out there. Earth, beavers, squirrels, fish, turtles, toads, loons, geese, ducks, swans and my many plant friends. I fostered my love for all our plant and animal relatives and deepened my connection with Earth and all the elements.

I come back feeling revitalized and rejuvenated. I walked in barely able to portage my canoe and pack and I came out literally running with the canoe on my shoulders, feeling strong and solid. I swam daily, soaked up the sun, took in thousands of breaths of fresh air, breathed the many scents of the forest, went to bed early and awoke with the sun. I soaked in all the healing elements and will carry this healing with me wherever I walk and in all encounters that come this fall.

I managed to feel timeless at numerous moments, forgetting that time existed. When I returned and saw a date on a sign at the ranger station my brain didn’t understand the numbers at first. This was a great sign that I truly managed to disconnect from it all and truly connect with Earth!

This was my longest solo trip into the wilderness. I accomplished something I have been trying to accomplish for over a decade. I will use this as motivation to accomplish more in my service to Earth and humanity.

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