I went camping with some friends on Friday night. You may remember the weather on Friday being less than desirable, and if you don't, I'll remind you. The weather on Friday was less than desirable. Typical Juneau wetness has a tendency to make even my bones feel soggy. But we hiked out to Cowee Meadow Cabin anyway. Once there, the five of us began eating and drinking—a lot. Darkness fell before 7pm, and I remember thinking to myself “this would be perfect if it were three months earlier.” It was the severity of the blackness outside that kept us from building a campfire, roasting marshmallows and exploring the meadow. In fact, the only trips that anyone took outside the cabin involved peeing—quickly. October darkness is just creepy, I guess.
Now, this is not to say that I didn't have fun in the cabin. I did. With good friends, fun comes naturally (even though “someone” may have thrown up in the bunk next to me, making the entire cabin smell like vomit) but I will say that I was very pleased in the morning to see daylight once again. I could finally appreciate my surroundings. On the hike back from the cabin, I realized that the problem with camping in the dark is the barrier that forms between us and nature.
The entire reason people go camping is to feel close to nature; to understand wildness by being in it, observing it. But when I can't see nature, I have a hard time feeling present in the wilderness, and thus the reason for camping becomes lost in the darkness. That is exactly what happened Friday night. Nothing was particularly captivating because nothing was visually available, and feelings of comfort with my surroundings were replaced with uncomfortable uncertainty. Were there any bears around that I couldn't see? Was a porcupine gonna get my ass while I was peeing? What about zombies? Vampires? Darkness kept me on edge and prevented me from feeling the breeze, smelling the trees and enhancing my understanding of the wild. I learned that to get the most out of a camping trip, it is a good idea to make sure I can see my surroundings. Otherwise, I might just end up a little tipsy and paranoid--with no visual or emotional connection to the wilderness that I love.
Oh yeah and I'm scrapping the picture thing. I drink like 4 cups of coffee a day and countless cups of Earl Gray, yet I'm still always a little lethargic. It's strange, but not worth a picture with every update.