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Isolation – physical remoteness from habitation, distanced by coniferous forest, or ash deserts, mountains, plateaus. Mental separation; from society, societal norms, reject those; freedom, distance from others, retreat into own thoughts, cleansing, the rain cleanses, even the earth scent is cleansed afterwards. Interaction with nature, absorbed, minimal interaction with other people. Even they become subjects to the natural. Untouched, only traces, geological, glaciological processes can’t be controlled; one day reclaiming itself. Raw natural forces. Path; don’t step on the delicate ground-growths. Lichen finds its way everywhere. Ice patches, pockmarked. A wooden cabin, but that can rot. Shelter is necessary for survival, help. There are few people here; the region is so vast, they can be distanced. Perception of scale altered. Danger, natural forces, geohazards, cold, exposure, falling, inhospitable; too far into the mind, too far alone. Precarious, but powerful forces. ‘You must not think must not think...lavatories, no, you must not think those’. (1) You must not think cities, they are far more threatening. Running away. Standing, looking, vastness, listening. Stillness. Wind is growing, blowing sulphurous gasses. Isolated in this environment, immersed, completely there, tested physically and mentally. Hypersensitivity, emotional intensity, atmosphere. Need to be here. The ground is stressed, fissures, fumaroles; psychological stresses; no, some of them can’t be shed, even here. Experience is intense; isolation amplifies intensity, noticing. Oxide colours, scent of lichen hanging in twisted pines. What it means to be in these places.

(1) Margaret Atwood. 2017. Imagine... Margaret Atwood: You Have Been Warned! Produced by BBC2.

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