As the immortal Marshall Mather’s once proclaimed, “it’s so good to be back!” I just arrived home from another incredible 10 days deep in the mountains of Jasper National Park. For those of you who don’t know, Jasper National Park is the largest wilderness park in the Canadian Rockies and an official World Heritage Site. The park encompasses more than 10,000 square km, and has more than 1,000 km in hiking trails.
I was there embedded with a team of researchers tracking and studying the movements, environs and life-ways of the two main herds of Woodland Caribou who live the Park. The Woodland Caribou is formally a “species at risk”, and recent surveys indicate that both Jasper herds are in decline. The northern herd is estimated at 150 animals. The south Jasper herd, numbering around 100, is down from counts of 450 surveyed in the early 1960's. Based on these trends, population models predict that the south Jasper woodland caribou herd could be completely gone in 40 years. It's difficult to determine why the woodland caribou are disappearing. Limited patches of high quality habitat, increased predation by wolves, climate change, and the direct and indirect effects of human activity are all factors – but tracking the life-ways of these amazing animals will help us understand more about the issues.
One highlight of the trip was a perilously close early morning encounter with a robust pack of wolves – resulting in our team setting off numerous flares to persuade our visitors to augment their journey and hunt elsewhere. I love those beasts! So much intensity.
There is something so invigorating about being in the mountains, walking through ancient forests in pursuit of wild species. I always try to imagine how our pursuits up there might somehow feel similar to those intrepid tribal hunters who once traversed those same forests. Of course, our adventure was strictly scientific and not at all propelled by the necessity to subsist in a wild world of precarious existence, but nonetheless…
What this latest trip really brought home, however, in just how much a need to think through and develop my central theoretical project: the pragmatic implications for an ontographic approach to the wilderness of being. As entities 'thrown' into the world we must find and make our way in a world full of wild, uncanny and strange beings and environments. We are confronted on all sides by forces, objects, flows and contexts which exceed our control, overflow our understandings and often try to destroy, devour or entangle us. Yet, there is also an abundance to Being that affords us the conditions from which we can build our lives. The rich flora and fauna of Being is simultaneously our mother, our matrix, and our calling. And everything hinges on how we explore this vast and intimate wilderness and what we can enact within it.
This manner of framing is at the core of everything I say, write and do. And I hope to develop my thoughts further whenever possible.
But, for now, I’m back in the city and looking forward to getting back to writing, blogging and all such networked activities. I have several topics I want to comment on, and a few good posts in draft I hope to post in the next few days, so please have patience as I get back into the electro-flow of things.
In the meantime, sit back, chill out and watch-listen to the resonant beauty expressed so passionately in the video below. It’s true – I GOT LOVE! Enjoy.