Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Roughing It

We go camping anywhere from 2-5 times a summer. The kids and The Man like to fish, I like cooking out in the open and soaking in the sun and fresh air. Sometime between the 18 and 24 hour mark, this feeling settles in, it's a slowness, a calmness of mind. Your muscles slacken, your movements slow. It's earthy and peaceful. We abandon the world of screens. I can't do laundry. There are no phones to answer. The sound of video games or the 700th viewing of Bolt are completely missing. I don't have to think, "What should I be doing? What's on my list today? When do I need to start dinner? Oh I need to call..." In the mountains we have no Facebook, Google chat, texts, emails, no constant communication. After a day away from town, marinating in the quiet of the mountains, I am hollow.

This weekend we went to Cold Springs Campground, near Council, Idaho. We've never been there before, but at 4800 feet, the elevation is right for June. Some of our favorite camping spots are still closed this time of year due to snow. Saturday morning we headed over to the Lost Valley Reservoir. When we got there, I was disgusted. The shoreline was packed with pickup trucks and boats. That's normal for an in-town lake, but even out in the middle of nowhere, it is becoming more common. People were everywhere. The sounds of motors, the smell of exhaust...these are the things we go camping to get away from. People haul up generators, lights, some people bring televisions. RV camping with refrigerators and air conditioning are tempting, but motoring around the trails at light speed on an ATV? 

I think about the gas that ends up in the water, the smog filling the air from dozens of exhaust pipes and I want to cry. I think about the transformation that could happen if those campers were to dismount their four-wheelers, climb to the top of the pine-covered mountain, lift their face to the sky, and just...breathe. If they were to stop creating so much poison and racket, if they closed their eyes and listened to the river of wind in the trees, the chipmunks skittering through pine needles, to feel the sun slowly sink into their skin...would they be so quick to flip on their portable T.V.s? Would they tear up the shore with their trailers? Rip up the hillside with their toys? Would they be so quick to toss their cans, their Caprisun pouches, their cigarette butts on the ground?

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