Where in the WILD are You?
The title of poet Pablo Neruda's book Residencia en la tierra is usually translated as "Residence on Earth," but in Spanish it has another connotation--"residence in the land"--that reflects the way many of us would like to live: wholly in the world around us. This desire motivates us to explore the natural world and inspires our "Where in the Wild Are You?" contest. Look at the photos. Read the captions. Imagine yourself in the wildest of places. Then send us a postcard that correctly identifies all the locations described. One lucky entrant will win a Sierra Club rafting and backpacking trip for two in Canyonlands National Park. To sweeten the pot, contest sponsor Nature Valley will provide two Dana Design backpacks, a Jana tent, and a year's supply of granola bars. Contest answers will appear in Sierra's July/August issue.
To be in this wetland, says John McPhee, is "to float among trees under silently flying blue herons, to see the pileated woodpecker, to hope to see an ivorybill, to hear the prothonotary warbler." In this area, whose mellifluous name derives from the Choctaw word for "long river," you might also eye an alligator, spot a giant catfish, or catch a glimpse of a web-footed rodent called a nutria. But, as is so often the case, you are afloat in a world that is not as wild as it seems. "This most apparently natural of natural worlds," writes McPhee, "is utterly dependent on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose decisions at Old River can cut it dry or fill it with water and silt." Fortunately, with the help of the Sierra Club, the Corps and the Pelican State have developed a conservation-oriented master plan, and local Club activists are busy making sure it's implemented. What wetland is this?
You are walking along one of the wildest stretches of Pacific coast you've ever seen. You come upon a grove that writer John McKinney describes as "a garden of rhododendrons, head-high ferns, and vines climbing redwoods to the sky." The towering thousand-year-old redwoods, some ten feet in diameter, are surrounded by those ferns--sword, lady, five-finger, and woodwardia--all nourished by "six months of rain and six months of fog." You meander through the grove and out onto a bluff that overlooks the ocean. As far as you can see, there's no pavement, just 7,000 acres preserved as a state park and another 62,000 acres protected by the Bureau of Land Management. The folks who have found their way to this remote place have given it a mystery-enshrouded name. What do they call this stretch of shoreline?
You climb to escape the heat below as much as to discover what lies above. Glancing down, you take in a view described by desert rat Edward Abbey: "swirls of mud, salt, and salt-laden streams lie motionless under a lake of heat, glowing in lovely and poisonous shades of auburn, saffron, crimson, sulfurous yellow, dust-tinged tones of white on white." At 8,000 feet, you walk among scattered junipers and pinon pine. Higher still, at 10,000 feet, you encounter the ancients: bristlecone pines. Inspired by this botanic legacy, you reach the peak, 11,049 feet above sea level, where you admire a great mountain range to the west. On what mountaintop do you stand?
You follow the footsteps of one of the world's most famous vagabonds. A hundred and twenty years ago he floated this river, walked its banks. He bestowed upon this country his highest praise: a comparison to his beloved Sierra. "The majestic cliffs and mountains forming the canyon walls display endless variety of form and sculpture, and are wonderfully adorned and enlivened with glaciers and waterfalls, while throughout almost its whole extent the floor is a flowery landscape garden, like Yosemite." Since his trip, the outlet of this river--which drains a watershed that stretches over two countries and 20,000 square miles--has become part of the largest national forest in the United Stares. Time has not been kind, however, and industrial logging has transformed much of the region. But plenty of this country remains wild, and the Sierra Club is fighting to keep it that way. Name this river.
No purchase necessary. Entry must be handwritten on a postcard and mailed to Sierra Magazine Contest, 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441. Entries must be postmarked by April 30, 1999; must state the entrant's name, address, and telephone number; and must identify correctly all four locations described in the "Where in the Wild Are You" contest. Only one entry per person; each entrant must fill out his or her own entry. Sierra is not responsible for late, lost, misdirected, or damaged mail. Illegible entries will be disqualified. Typewritten, computer-generated, photocopied, or other mechanically reproduced entries are ineligible.
One winner will be chosen on or before May 15, 1999, in a random drawing of qualified entries. The winner will be notified by mail or phone within one week of the drawing. If the winner cannot be notified within 15 days, an alternate may be chosen. All decisions are final.
The winner will receive a Sierra Club rafting and backpacking trip for two in Canyonlands National Park and additional prizes (see page 76). Transportation to start of trip and other expenses are not included. The prize is not transferable. Income and other taxes, if any, are the responsibility of the winner. The winner and travel companion may be required to sign a liability release.
The "Where in the Wild Are You?" contest is open to readers of Sierra 18 years of age and older, except for employees of the Sierra Club, its contractors, and their immediate families. The contest is void where prohibited by law. Odds of winning the contest depend on the number of correct entries received. For the name of the winner, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Sierra after June 1, 1999.