May 28 2010

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Sitting in the Woods

Posted at 8:43 am under Blog Post

After hiking hard for several hours, I leave the groomed trail and bushwhack along the brook until I’m way back in the mountains.  Then I drop my rucksack on a knob of high ground next to the brook and start making camp.  It’s an unseasonably hot day in May.  The leaves of birches and maples at this elevation are just opening up, so I’ve taken cover beneath a copse of conifers.  The terrain around me is rough but I’ve found a relatively flat spot to pitch my tarp.  After doing that, I fashion a small campfire circle then sit down to rest.

The black flies are out and looking for blood.  My dog, Matika, and I retreat beneath the tarp where the mosquito bar keeps the flies at bay.  By early evening, the temperature has fallen dramatically and the black flies are gone.  I make a seat out of my foam pad, leaning it against a big rock so that I can sit for a while, grooving on the wild.

At first I am busy cooking dinner, but when daylight fades to twilight I just sit, throwing thumb-sized sticks on the campfire and jotting down my thoughts in a journal.  Tightly wound nerves slowly unravel.  The incessant rush of water helps.  Soon I’m looking around, admiring the woody chaos all around me and wondering why I’m so lucky to be alone out here.  Why aren’t these woods full of other people doing the same?

Darkness slowly consumes the forest.  My modest woodpile has dwindled so I call it a day.  Matika is already lying in front of the tarp, ready for bed.  As I settle in for the night, the stars come out.  They twinkle through the canopy.

In the morning, just before sunrise, a gentle breeze sweeps down the mountain.  The forest smells like clean rot.  I go down to the brook to splash some cold water into my face and fill my pot.   It’s time for breakfast.  The small tepee of twigs bursts into flames in no time.  Soon I’m sitting in the woods again, journal in my lap, coffee in hand.  A wood thrush sings in the distance, as if to remind me that this is where I belong.    A wood thrush is always singing, it seems, when I am happiest.

Eventually I grow restless.  I want to start hiking again, so I break camp and pack up.  By the time I have bushwhacked back to the trail, I’m sweating heavily.  Yeah, it’s going to be another warm one.  But I don’t care.  It’s a glorious, summer-like day and I am footloose in the forest.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

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