Charles C. Deam Wilderness (here) is my home away from home. It’s one of my favorite wilderness areas because it’s so familiar. It’s where I cut my teeth on backpacking. 13,000 acres of forest and reclaimed pre-depression homesteads. The only wilderness area in Indiana. As a young man, desperate in the confines of small-town Midwest, it offered freedom. I came to find myself. This is where I mourned my grandmother’s passing. I’ve often visited here with the best of my friends, as well as to teach adventure and nature to others.
On this trip, I’m here with my sisters, brother-in-law, and cousins. There’re over 37 miles of trails and backcountry camping throughout. Along with horsemen, packers, bikers, and hunters, we set up at Blackwell Campground. I was eager to show my family around my old stomping grounds. So we hit the Grubb Ridge Trail down to Saddle Creek and Patton Ridge (map).
There’s a lot of things I love about backcountry areas. For our quality of life, there must be places set aside like this. It banks the genetics of our plants and animals for our country’s biological resilience. I’m always impressed by the diversity of people here, backgrounds and persuasions. Each enjoys this preserved nature in their own way. I love the quiet and solitude that it’s offered me in the past. But on this trip, I was so excited for the space it offered for a retreat with my family. We hadn’t been camping or hiking together since we were kids. …and I wanted this time to catch up.
That said, our five-mile hike turned into ten, a bit more than my sisters had signed on for. 😛 I might have got a bit overzealous. 😛