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Ah, wilderness: on being renewed by the outdoors.

The photograph above was taken at the edge of the Sturgeon River, the beginning of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area in the Ottawa National Forest. The river is high, even though it's July. There are great perpendicular cliffs down river about six miles from this point. Past the gorge area, the river widens and becomes tranquil and on this part of it there is a ten-mile stretch of canoe water.

I have been here - and in many other wilderness areas-many times in the 21 years I've had MS. In that time, I've gone through a variety of experiences both negative and positive. What has helped me through those experiences is my abiding love of the outdoors.

Not every person with MS can venture forth into the great outdoors; but I would like to encourage people to try things they now think are impossible. We can do more than we sometimes think and the outdoors are balm for our spirits. For instance, my vision is impaired, so when we canoe, my wife watches out for stumps and rocks.

We try not to canoe in the high heat of the day; I will pull over and rest often and drink plenty of liquids. We take a modern cottage as a base camp, going out each day. We tailor our daily trips to how I feel that day. The whole area is so beautiful and wild and convenient that even when I don't feel up to a trip, I still feel refreshed and exuberant.

In the Nicolet National Forest, another of my favorite spots, the roads are safe for wheelchairs or walkers to travel without worry about traffic. There are many such roads bordering wilderness areas (with some leading right into the wilderness area itself) that are wheelchair accessible, the only wheeled vehicle generally allowed in these spots. Information and maps about these sites can be obtained from the United States Forest Service Regional Office, 310 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee 53203 414-297-3693). Information also will be furnished by any district forest service office.

In the forest and on the lakes I feel perfectly normal. Nature is impartial. Outdoors it doesn't matter how fast I walk or whether I see well. There is the sun and the wind and the same sky over all of us. I am natural and complete when I am in the forest. I return home ready to carry on.

Mr Rau, a writer, has had many wilderness articles published. He lives in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and is happy to correspond Contact him through INSIDE MS.

National Wildlife Resources

1. National Park Service, Special Programs & Populations Branch, P.O. Box 37127, Washington, D.C. 20013-1727, 202-343-3674, TDD: 202-343-3679.

2. National Park Service Public Inquiries Office, Room 1013, P.O. Box 37127, Washington, D.C. 20013.

3. Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402 (stock #024-005-00911-6). A list of "Lesser Known Areas." available for $1.50. 4. Wilderness Inquiry, 1313 Fifth Street SE, Box 84, Minneapolis, MN 55414, 612-379-3858. Organizes trips for mixed groups. Some scholarships available.

5. The Voyageur Outward Bound School, 10900 Cedar Lake Road, Minnetonka, MN 55343, 612-542-9448 or 800-328-2943. Organizes trips for mixed groups. Some scholarships available.

6. All Outdoors, Inc., 42 Northwest Greeley, Bend, OR 97701, 503-388-8103. Special needs groups only. Organized according to needs level. Some scholarships available.

7. The Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Publishes a number of introductory booklets for the disabled: Birding, Fishing, Sailing, Swimming. CMLS, P.O. Box 9150, Melbourne, FL 32902-9150. Free. Indicate booklet wanted.
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Title Annotation:includes resources
Author:Rau, Gerald
Publication:Inside MS
Date:Mar 22, 1992
Words:596
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