Thoreau considers “wilderness” to be a place pure of human influence. Cronon disagrees, saying that “wildness” or “wilderness” can exist anywhere. Thoreau has a very small sphere of where wilderness can exist, and Cronon views it as more of a concept we can integrate. I think Cronon was closer to the truth, humanity is natural, and therefore able to mesh with the natural world.
Thoreau certainly demonstrates a “Stern Loneliness” in Walking. I mean, he literally says “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again — if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man — then you are ready for a walk.” That’s pretty stern. He’s basically saying, “be alone with your thoughts and free of the world or you can’t fully understand nature.” I mean, it’s just ridiculous. Nature is a part of our lives, it’s a part of us. You can’t cut your life out from nature, or nature from your life, because they’re the same thing.
If I said Thoreau didn’t find wildness while walking I would be contradicting my previous argument, so I’ll say he did. I view Wildness as a state of mind, a sort of connection with the natural world. If one understands the beauty and importance of the natural world, even for a moment, then one has experienced wildness.