The Wilds Project was born from a contest created by Oregon Wild in 2014 as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and to engage the public to better understand and appreciate the many benefits and values of wilderness in Oregon. Their “50 Hikes Challenge” was an invitation to visit all 45 current Wilderness Areas that allow public entry and five proposed Wilderness Areas between May 1st and October 31st, 2014.
When I heard about that contest, I was tempted to go all out, visiting all fifty from their list. Visiting so many areas in such a short amount of time, however, made for a great contest, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I could plan a more personal way to experience the wild areas that Oregon has to offer, yet still make it physically and artistically challenging. I wanted to do it on my own terms and timeline, so I mused on the idea for months until I could create a resolution that would be pushing my limits as a hiker, artist, and naturalist.
Since my first big resolution in 2011, I tend to make my personal goals public knowledge, creating a website to announce the resolution and post updates. I don’t do this for popularity or to boast of my accomplishments, but to publicize a tough challenge that has a great possibility for failure. Having the details and process of a goal motivates me to accomplish it or suffer from public embarrassment. Another reason I share this publicly is to inspire others to attempt big challenges of their own. If I could do it, so can you.
So here it is, my announcement to the world:
I, Kolby Kirk, resolve to hike 450 miles in 50 Oregon wilderness areas by 2016.
Here’s the fine-print:
I resolve to hiking in all 45 current Wilderness Areas (all that allow public entry) and the five “proposed” Wilderness Areas by January 1st, 2016. Each hike can be any length, as long as I hike a total of 450 miles in wilderness (including foot-powered miles getting to the wilderness) by the end of the year. I also resolve to visit and photograph all Level IV Oregon Ecoregions that lie within Oregon Wilderness Areas, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency. There are sixty-four ecoregions in Oregon and thirty of them are found within Wilderness Areas. I also resolve to chronicle my journey to each wilderness, and share them on this website.