by Max Brantley
From up East comes a link from a former Arkie about a website, Remote Footprints. What is it?
Remote Footprints is an idea rooted in our concern that the remoteness of the natural landscape is still continually diminishing despite America’s best efforts to preserve its public wildlands. We have discovered that the U.S. road network fills the national landscape so fully, that it is no longer possible to be more than 5 miles from a road within the vast majority of the conterminous 48 United States. The number of roads continually increases, even within many conservation lands. Opportunities for humans to “get away from it all” are all but gone outside Alaska. The roaring sound of roads, light pollution on the horizon, or line of sight views of civilization are next to impossible to avoid. The mental and physical health of a culture farther and farther removed from the natural world is at stake and worth saving. We have developed a unique and exciting approach to preserving remote and roadless areas, called Project Remote, and we invite you to browse our website to learn more about the problem and solutions for preserving America’s famed remoteness.
OK, that's all touchy feely. Here's the specific angle. Project Remote is aimed at identifying the most remote spot in each of the 50 states. Arkansas has already been visited. The remote spot is in the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in South Arkansas. (My cousin Jewell, late of Huttig, Ark., would be thrilled. He loved to take any and all fishing down in the wetlands.)
In addition to the YouTube of a trip to the spot, there's an extensive post with more photos, including this from a visit by canoe to the putative remotest Arkansas spot in November 2011:
The river floodplain swamp forest comes alive at night. Barred owls ”who-aw” back and forth. A coyote pack yelps wildly. A few arboreal insects are still calling despite the onset of winter. All night, we enjoy the sounds of Southeastern wildness. However, there is one unwelcome sound. US 82 roars constantly through the night, and dominates the other sounds, despite being nearly 3 miles away. This blows our minds. We had no idea that one could hear a road, and quite loudly, from such a distance. This is an eye-opener for us and provides further motivation for conducting Project Remote.
I'm thinking the website's standard for remoteness, distance from a road, doesn't fairly take into account some spots in the vast timbered stretches of both the Ouachitas and Ozarks. They may be right by a forest road, but traffic doesn't come along too often. Still, food for thought. Quietest place I ever traveled by road was the vast desert along the so-called Extraterrestrial Highway (for its proximity to Area 54) between Las Vegas and Carson City. You could hear nothing but wind. Below is their road coverage map of the state.