Many adventure writers have touched on the tension between our ideas of civilization and wildness because we tend to be more impressed by adventures carried out in arenas and conditions that otherwise repel human settlement. Fredston, however, gravitates towards the areas of the world that remain unaffected by human interests, not those considered most challenging or difficult to conquer. She demonstrates this distinction throughout her book, both consciously and unconsciously, making it very clear that she considers the experience of pure, unaffected nature to be an important and worthy reason for one to pursue outdoor adventure. She also points out examples of how these areas of pure natural life are being threatened by human politics and society, adding an underlying message of conservationism to the narrative.
After spending her childhood just outside of New York City, where even most parks were built by humans within the last two centuries, Fredston spends the rest of her personal narrative actively seeking areas with the least possible human settlement. This drives her decision to move to Alaska after completing her education, explaining that “my whole self, every fiber, craved Alaska’s uniqueness, its possibilities, its wildness” (31). This explanation carries some important implications. Having previously experienced the landscape of the Alaskan coastline on a wilderness adventure trip, Fredston understood enough about the area to feel confident in her decision to move to the state full-time. While it is worth remembering that she writes with the advantage of hindsight, so she can frame her expectations in reaction to her then-future experiences, the unconditional devotion to her future life in Alaska shows how heavily her priorities are influenced by the access to wildness. She knew nothing about the living situation or specifics of Alaskan life, but her brief experience with the wildness of Alaska convinced her to move there without much second thought. She expresses a similar enthusiasm for Labrador after her rowing trip there, gush that being “able to travel a twenty-three-day stretch without seeing or hearing any signs of modern man” for her and Doug “revived our hope in persisting wildness” (174). This quote clearly demonstrates how directly Fredston’s idea of wildness is tied to the absence of humanity’s influence over nature.