Who Are We? Cindy and David Chojnacky
We first crossed paths in the University of Arizona Ramblers hiking club in 1974 in Tucson. Hiking wilderness and backcountry has been a favorite pursuit of our lives together in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Indiana and the Washington D.C. area; as well as taking personal and professional opportunities to live and hike in New Mexico, Eastern/Southern states, California and Cambodia.
We have always tried to merge our passion for the land with our work. Armed with a PhD in forest biometrics, David worked for the USDA Forest Service in research aimed at forest inventory which allowed him to study forest measurements/data/modeling as well as do field work.
Cindy started as an environmental and forestry newspaper reporter, but eventually joined the Forest Service in public affairs. Her career included stints in research communication, legislative affairs, policy, urban outreach and as a District Ranger; working in the Intermountain West, Southwest, East, Washington D.C. and California.
Both our Forest Service careers abruptly ended while we were living in DC. We thought this might be a good base for international consulting on forestry issues in developing countries and merged our science-communication skills for ventures in Cambodia and Lebanon. However, our science/communications collaborative approach had little appeal to international funding entities focused on “deliverables” (e.g. rigid reports, ubiquitous workshops and institutional processes) rather than our approach of working closely with national experts/culture for devising science-based solutions to problems.
So we are doing one thing we can do: go to the wilderness. From 2012-2014 we visited every wilderness in Virginia and drafted a book on our experiences, The Virginia Wilderness. Cindy wrote a futuristic fantasy for youth Return to the Wilds on the struggle to maintain wild places in an urbanized world. We planned to publish these books but we quickly found a world of disinterested agents and publishers. We plan to self-publish our two books and have developed this website to share wilderness explorations and observations. We will soon add a blog to dialogue with others who care about and need wilderness.
We have also returned to the West, based in Hailey, Idaho. We have been revisiting wilderness areas we hiked in our youth to observe how they have changed over the years. So far we have revisited 10 wilderness areas in Arizona and New Mexico and five wilderness areas in Idaho; four included in a trek across the state from Hailey to Salmon last summer 2016.
Cindy and David Chojnacky, April 2016 after completing trek across the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains that frame the city of Tucson, Arizona.
District Ranger Cindy answers questions in 2008 during public meeting on the Gap Fire which burned down into Santa Barbara County.
David enroute to Rincon Peak