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There Will Always Be Camping

by Michael Souther

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The alarm clock buzzes on and off waking a young man out of his peaceful sleep. This young person is a new edition to a long line of people known as the backpackers. He wears old, moth-eaten clothes, but they feel warm and comfortable to him so he continues to wear them. He slowly slips on a pair of insulated boots to keep his feet warm as he makes the journey to the wilderness. He listens to the house he is in; all is tranquil. The young person easily opens the door to the front porch, and as he steps out shuts it in the same manner. Dawn breaks, and the birds’ song gives him inspiration for the traveling he is about to endure. This young man climbs into the cab of his old beat-up truck which has the gear he will need to sustain his life on the pilgrimage to the woods.

Since the time that man first appeared on this earth, men have shown that in times of trouble, times of happiness, and basically times of inspiration they find themselves back hiking and exploring the woods like they did when they were young. Many ask the question why do men do this? The answer lies the inner most part of those who camp. Is it a need to tough the wilderness’ dangers, or is it just to get away from life’s worries?

For some who love to go into these frequently diminishing areas, being able to live for just a short while in the woods gives them a sense they are like the homesteader or adventurer. Once a good place to camp is found, and a meager, but suitable living space has been accommodated, the picture of this pioneer’s lifestyle is whole. Some feel that it is just fun to be a part of the wilderness. In short, it is like making a fort out of pillows and towels, but really making it out of sticks, leaves, and whatever one might find on his adventures.

There is still one side that one must also address if he is to see what camping, backpacking, and exploring is all about. That is the food part. Most of the food that one carries into the backcountry is not usually considered eatable by most with a weak stomach. If you ever see a can that says: “For Backpackers Only,” let the ones who are able to eat it take pride in devouring its contents. Stews of rabbit meat, carrots, and potatoes usually end up being a candy bar and the water one packed in with them. In the end, if you’re able to just put something into a frying pan and watch it sizzle over the fire, the whole camping trip is worth it. Cooking is probably the third most important part of the camping trip. Shelter the takes the number two spot, but what is the most important part of the camping trip?

I feel that the adventure awaiting one around the next bend in the trail, is what spurs one on to go just a little farther on these woodland excursions. Seeing the wingspan of a red-tailed hawk above you, or to hear the water rushing from the creek below you only heightens the feeling that much more. Of the happenings that go on around a camp, this writer feels that it is the fire that plays the most significance in the adventure. The fire provides warmth, a place to keep the explosive food warm, and for the most advanced of backpackers it provides a center of prayer. Just starring into the crackling fire can send one’s imagination to things not of this world and even into the deepest parts of one’s soul. The fire ultimately brings the ones who look into it back to a time and a place where they once felt the same. However, these are only what this writer has felt. For each who looks into the fire, it is different. Fires have more than just the uses that people think of, for they are truly magical places.

I have asked at the start of this article why do men travel into the unknown. I am not a psychologist, and I do not even claim that I am baptized in the study of the truth. In fact, I am only seventeen years old, but I have had experiences in the open air that I shall never forget and can not forget. I have just taken the times I have had with fellow campers, hikers, backpackers, and explorers and found the same experiences and written them down for all to see. I find that living with the knowledge you have of the outdoors, cooking things you wouldn’t ever think of eating at home, and finding an inspiration to carry on in a simple fire are some of the humblest, yet powerful actions that you could make oneself participate in. In fact, once one has been so drowned in the actions of the outdoors, you do not even make oneself do these things. Rather, it is a privilege to be able to enjoy them for the time that one has. To sum up all that has been said, I end this article with two sayings that I find help to propel one into a deeper understanding for the woods, fields, mountains, and anywhere on Earth. First of all, live the journey for every destination is but a doorway to another. Lastly, as long as there are those who are willing to go where most will not to take in what will soon be gone, there will always be camping.

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