After hiking through welcoming villages where a cup of tea was always offered, our featured contributor Leon McCarron was struck by the sparseness of the landscape as he traveled the southern reaches of the Jordan Trail.

“Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.”—Edward Abbey

So often, the beating heart of any travel experience are the interactions and human connections we make along the way. I’ve found these to be the elements of journeying—and indeed life—that become the catalyst for some fundamental emotional change within me.

But let me talk also of landscape. I’ve found that wilderness too has the power to shift one’s mood, or to wrench thought and feeling into an entirely new sphere in an instant. To feel a landscape—to be dwarfed by mountains or swallowed by ocean or humbled by the vastness of any new, natural scene—is one of the great joys of life.

For those of us who live in cities, being a part of this is seen sometimes as a luxury, but as Edward Abbey wrote so forcefully above: This is not true. We need it, and fortunately, there are still plenty of places on our planet where we can seek it out.