Behind the Ranges: Why we explore the unknown

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Saddle in New Creek Mountain, Mineral County, Potomac Branches Region
Saddle in New Creek Mountain from near Skyline, West Virginia

I think that most explorers are motivated by a shared sense of curiosity — a need to know what lies beyond. Beyond the ridge. Behind the ranges. Beyond field and forest. Many of my own country drives and woodland hikes are lengthened simply by the need to see what’s around another turn.

Fellow explorer Harriette Furrow this week shared a passage from the 1898 poem The Explorer, by Rudyard Kipling, which Harriette said she felt perfectly captured that impetus.  The poem has been interpreted to imply that such explorations are divinely inspired.

” ‘There’s no sense in going further — it’s the edge of cultivation,’
So they said, and I believed it — broke my land and sowed my crop —
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop:
“Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated — so:
‘Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges —
‘Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!’ “

You’ll find the full poem as well as  notes on the text provided here by the Kipling Society. And, please, feel free to believe that your need to look behind the ranges, to find something lost behind the ranges, is divinely inspired.