On Camping

So I’ve just returned from one of our trips to my friend Graham’s farm. Outside of spooky noises and finding bear droppings close to our camp (turns out we camped near a game trail) not too much spooky stuff happened.

I told stories of Skinwalkers, the Wendigo, and Black Eyed Children around the campfire as I’m expected at this point to do. We listened to some music and chatted, but we mainly relaxed.

It’s funny, but stomping through the woods with a full pack, or chopping wood for a fire, well it sucks, but it’s also so very relaxing. I was isolated from technology for two days and realize I needed the break.

However, that’s not what inspired me to write this post. What prompted it were some of my thoughts on camping and safety. It seems so strange to me that we think of tents and tarps as protection from the unknown. I know that I’m sitting in a room made of material thinner than my t-shirt, but for some reason I feel safer than exposed. Could be an ‘I can’t see you, you can’t see me,’ kind of thing, but it still interests me.

After talking about malevolent creatures that can only come in if you invite them, I questioned my friends as to whether or not tents counted as your property when set up. Does it count as a home, and would it keep out traditional vampires, or Skinwalkers?

The general consensus was yes.

Even in the deepest of the wild we still cling to notions of home and safety; that there are rules to be followed. It pops up in my stories, and in our interactions with nature.

One of the brighter spots of the trip was our hike into the woods themselves. We just followed a game trail and came upon what felt like abandoned hunting blinds every 500 feet. In one of them, a big fat porcupine had chewed out a corner to squeeze in and make a home. We were able to peek in and take a look without being in any danger, or endangering the animal. It was a neat little up close encounter with nature that wasn’t the normal deer or coyote we generally run into.

Unfortunately our hike was cut short by the sound of gunshots somewhere deeper into the forest, so we returned to our camp.

One interesting thing I noticed is that we all settled into roles. We had a guy who made fire, the guy who organized everyone, the guy who chopped firewood. I still don’t know what my role was, maybe the storyteller, maybe the comic relief, I have no clue.

So, even though we huddled in the firelight, and listened to voices in the forest from a cabin somewhere beyond our property, we had a great time. A lot of work, but a lot of relaxation.

Still, night-time brought that familiar feeling out in all of us. That fear of the unknown. The fear of what may be lurking in the dark. Of waking up the next morning and seeing how close deer had bedded to our camp, or how coyote droppings were only twenty feet away from the furthest tent.

That’s why we go though, to see things and experience what most people don’t care to, and for just a moment, be irrationally scared before we head back to civilization. Just for the relaxation, yet also the rush.

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