The water was gin clear as it slithered over the painted rocks which ranged in color from blue to orange to red.  Water so cold and crisp that it could stunt even the largest of man’s most feared animals.  GreenForkRiver, holder of this water, is majestic the way it cuts deep in the earth, meandering through the Scapegoat Mountain Range.

Here, surrounded by 8,000 foot high peaks, I hear nothing but the wind howling through the valley, the large spring waterfalls pouring out form the side of the cliffs to form the Green Fork, the rushing water of the fork and earth’s many birds along with various other animals.  Where I stand in the Lewis and ClarkNational Forests, is true wilderness.  It is here in the water that I feel most free.

Over the past week, my instructors and friends at the Wild Rockies Field Institute have been teaching me about the importance of wilderness areas: what they contribute to not only the individual exploring them, but also to the animals that call these areas home, and the earth as a whole.  Being in the frigid water as the clouds roll by, tents and friends only a stones throw away, allows me to see to feel the true importance of these areas.

For one they provide a perfect escape for anyone who is willing to enter.  Hiking along any of the Lewis and Clark trails, or any wilderness area trails, is a rest from the lights and sounds of the inhabited areas.  These wild places are also a sanctuary for animals.  Throughout the United States, they’re aren’t many places animals can walk for hundreds of mils and not cross a man made structure such as a road.  Wilderness areas make this possible.  Large, natural ecosystems are formed here and places similar to allow animals their natural range.  Along with human and animal needs, wild areas such as Lewis and Clark or the Bob Marshall Wilderness areas are a great indicator of a healthy Earth.  When things go wrong with living organisms in these places, humans can gain a strong understanding of how to change events in our daily life.

As I stand here and cast my fly into the cold clear water of the Green Fork, I find my eyes and mind wandering with the surroundings.  Gone with the wind and echoing off the rocks with the waterfall.  The birds have taken my words through the valley.  My hopes are to have a wild trout dancing on the end of my line.  My heart is filled with love for this place.  This wild place.