Somewhere on the edge of nowhere
The last rays of the sun fade over the edge of the earth as I wait for the moon to come up full tonight.
From the western to the eastern horizon, the half dome of sky beckons me to come out and play, to camp out under the heavens. But winter’s cold grip has a hold on me and, the call of the wild is postponed.
By choice, my days of winter camping are gone. It’s not fun anymore to wake up in the morning when the thermometer has dipped down into the single digits.
My annual trek on snowshoes has come and gone. It’s time to dream of hiking in the summer sun, somewhere on the edge of nowhere.
Who do I go with on the trip coming to be in my mind, and where do we go? At my age of self-imposed exile from an insane world, there are only a handful of folks I journey with into the outback.
There’s a certain unspoken protocol my hiking buddies and I possess that cause us to want to share these special trips into God’s country.
It’s not really the apparent destination which really matters. Once we arrive at a good campsite, either a base camp or special place that requires hiking to, the journey has just begun.
My favorite hiking buddy calls this “in-scape,” and it is not easy to define. The landscape is the setting for the experience it helps create within a person through the spirit of place.
But it’s not the place alone. Such experience can’t bring you along when you are there to only be an observer.
Around the campfire you tell stories, read yours or someone else’s poetry, let your hair down. You write in your journal and share genuine heartfelt feelings about being alive in such a universe.
You’re not competing with the world, or even yourself out there. This isn’t a contest to see who wins. It is no time or place for foolish extreme sports death-wish mania.
Leave all your fancy toys at home where they belong. We don’t come here to see who is the best dressed. We don’t care a tinker’s damn about how much money you have or what your stocks did or didn’t do.
What matters most is often unspoken. Being with someone you can laugh at as well as with, who expects the same from you. No reason being ashamed of who you are. Or better yet, not being ashamed of your body and it’s random antisocial functions.
That trip in the next few months is coming together in my mind. There is ceremony and ritual to follow. Got to first find the gear, check it out, add and subtract; then use the process as an excuse to go buy an upgraded air mattress or camp cot.
A minimal amount of planning is a necessity with room left for that element of surprise … expecting the unexpected.
Where and when will come in their due time.
With more than 30 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, has shared his stories with readers for more than 15 years. Bill’s column will appear once per month, on the second Saturday of the month, in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
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