Sunday, September 6, 2015

Camping Misadventures

A mountain to the south patched in snow rose out of the mist and clouds, illuminated by the rising sun. The sky transitioned from light blue near the mountain to dark blue directly over head. As I looked up, a half moon was bidding goodbye. It was the perfect scene to snap me out of the bullshit. Last night was frustrating! My partner and I flew out to Wyoming for a cousins wedding yesterday afternoon and didn't land and acquire our rental car till nearly midnight in our body clocks time zone. The campground was an hour away down unlit two lane roads with copious warning signs to beware of wild life. When we stepped out of the airport, it dawned on us that we may have mispacked for the local climate. It also suddenly occurred to us that, we didn't have anything to sleep in at our tent site. 

You're probably thinking "what idiot goes camping and doesn't bring anything?" And I would respond "well said". The only excuse I have is that we have been trying to work and move this last month and it just fell through the cracks. The hour drive from Jackson Hole to Colter Bay provided a decent wind up in the stress department; would they have any blankets available or were we going to freeze? When we finally check in it took 20 minutes of circling around the unlit roads till we located our semi permanent tent where we found only thin foam mattresses covered in that plastic that soaks in the cold. I made a fire and we huddled up together hoping we would make it. 

Curled up with my love listening to the fire crackle while rain beat down on the canvas roof was rather magical but a few hours later it was too cold and we spent the rest of the night sleeping in our rental car with it running. Needless to say I was a little grumpy, very tired and moderately sore as I stared at the mountain watching the sun rise. Looking for some perspective on the situation, I considered this mountain - it had been there for thousands of years if not millions. On top of its age, it is massive in comparison to me and I thought "who am I to be complaining about anything? What right do I have in the face of something that has withstood adversity for so long?" It was kind of like the mountain quietly said "fuck you dude". I got the message - begrudgingly, at first. Perspective is what we need to be at peace in our lives. We focus on tiny little aspects that aren't the way we want them to be while ignoring the bigger picture and how we fit into it. I am a speck of matter, a fragment of consciousness seeking to find my place. While we were on a rafting trip last night down the Snake River, our guide Will told us several stories about the area particularly about several notable people who pioneered this area. Whether the story was mostly fiction or all true, I learned a valuable lesson from the life of John Colter. Colter was the foremost mountain man of his time even at 20 years of age. After trekking through much of this northwest region for a decade, John decided to head back to civilization for a bit. Despite surviving the harsh elements and a harrowing experience with the Blackfoot tribe, he died at 32 because he didn't have the anti-bodies to deal with the bacteria floating around in the general population. When you try to be something other than who you are, it may kill you. Find your place and then enjoy it.

Post script: Despite having a rough first night, our flight into Jackson Hole was delightful due to conversing with the woman at the end of our row. We were able to get some sleeping bags from the general store which was imperative since it ended up getting down to 30 degrees last night. They say the mountains are actually magnets that will draw you back and I can feel the pull already. Before going to sleep in our brand new sleeping bags last night we gazed at the stars for a while. It's one of those scenes where you have to tear yourself away because it is so awesome and vast that you don't want to turn your back on it. We are all star dust looking up into the scroll of our history. 

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