Response: Seeking America’s Quietest Spots: The Quest for Silence in a Loud World
There’s nothing like the peaceful solitude of being alone in the Wilderness. On Crystalaire Adventures, participants often choose to do “Listening Point,” an activity inspired by the naturalist Sigurd Olson. Everyone scatters throughout the woods and finds a peaceful spot to sit and observe—sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes for a whole afternoon.
When the group reconvenes, everyone has the chance to share their experience. Olson wrote of his Northern Minnesota getaway that, “Listening Point is dedicated to recapturing this almost forgotten sense of wonder and learning from rocks and trees and all the life that is found there, truths that can encompass all.” Similar sentiments are often shared after we find our own Listening Points.
As a big fan of Listening point, I was excited to read Seeking America’s Quietest Spots: The Quest for Silence in a Loud World.” However, the article left me feeling conflicted.
The story details the lengths some people are taking in order to minimize the sound of humans in the wilderness. These folks feel that their experience is diminished by the sound of motorcycles in the distance, or even a crying baby whose parents are hiking by.
I’m no motorcyclist, but I do ride a mountain bike. I’m sure the whirl of my tires and a shout of “on your left!” has tampered with many peoples’ quite, serene hikes. Am I wrong to bike through the Arcadia Dunes trails just south of our old headquarters?
When Crystalaire participants take a frigid swim in Lake Michigan, should they fight the instinct to shout about how good it feels?
Should we whisper our way through the McCormick Wilderness, for fear of disturbing someone else’s Listening Point?
Olson, like Crystalaire participants, knew the cleansing power of a quiet spot in the woods. But he also understood that he was just “a tenant leasing the enjoyment of this bit of the earth’s crust for a few short years.” He wasn’t entitled to the peace and quiet he found any more than the “Indians and voyageurs, the prospectors and loggers” who came before him.
At Crystalaire, we believe wild places are a gift meant to be shared. You won’t hear us complaining about a crying baby in the backcountry. We’re happy to sacrifice a little quiet so that everyone can experience some of the wonder that Olson wrote about.
But how much noise is too much, and are certain activities more valid than others? Let us know what you think- Comment your thoughts below!