Alone in the Wilderness
A man needs to be alone in the woods
every once in a while-
said I ,to myself since
No one else was listening .
I planned all week, laying in
Grub and gear and supplies enough to
meet any challenge--……….I hope,
So now I am busy rethinking everything I forgot.
The dusk is settling into the mountains now-
I can see it; I can smell it; I can even feel it
giving my legs a jolt of adrenalin and
Quickening my pace up this long and winding trail.
“A man needs to get away from the carpentered world
Of climate- control and mitered corners and microwaves
and recalibrate his sense of direction, get back in step
With nature”, so says the expert whose book I’m reading.
But right now I am looking for just the right
homestead for the night-
A few feet of level ground and a view of the sky--
That’s all I really need but I will need it soon
because things take on a whole new perspective
In the woods after dark;
up here dark really means dark ! And I wonder to myself, since no one else is here to wonder at-
What am I doing here? Why did I come and put
Myself voluntarily in this place -
My sensory equipment is working just fine, thank you
And I am hearing every sound in the forest.
There is a feeling of security that comes from
Entering one’s home and closing the door-
Even if that home is the 3 pound piece of fabric
You’ve carried in your pack all day
And I am still wondering. It’s not about the exercise
Or the scenery; that’s just gravy on the mashed potatoes and,
Like I said before, it’s dark out here. The only scenery I can make
Out now is what is revealed by my tiny headlight.
I know it’s about reminding myself that I can do this,
I think as I dive into my sleeping bag and shiver until
The warmth envelopes me. It’s about facing fears, and there
Are only a couple of options here.
I can face them and feel them; ignore them and rationalize
them or worse yet, build an altar to them. Fear is palpable but
So is my heart rate and there is no mistaking that I
Am alive, Dark- thirty and all is well.
You can talk to God here, right out loud, and he hears
You and talks back, or is it the other way around? After
All He lives here, doesn’t He? At the very least, this
Would make Him a good foot stool, if he wanted one.
Eventually, sleep prevails but I call it rock and roll. There
Is always at least one rock that ends up under you and I roll
Over and over In my bag until dawn, sort of like a roast on a spit ,
Cooking until done.
It starts to rain and the first drop of water that hits me on the nose
Wakes me up and reminds me that I had left my rain fly off in hope of
A clear night to see the stars-
As I scramble out to lash down the fly I’m reminded of another night years ago when my son and I were doing the same thing. In the dim light of what was left of our camp fire- two guys, in their underwear, running around
Putting the roof on before everything inside got wet. All the while, laughing our heads off at the thought of anyone from civilization seeing this scene! I named it the ‘Mystic, midnight , underwear dance’and we remember that night still today.
But don’t get me started with stories, I’ve got a million of them
And besides it’s day light and I have things to do and places to go.
Eat light and pack up all my possessions - but before I go, I build an altar to Jehovah God. I do this every once in a while but don’t ask me for doctrine-
I met with God here and worshipped Him and I just pile up a few rocks
As a place of remembrance . He is true to His ‘word and I thank Him and move on down the trail.
It’s only eight miles to my Jeep and a good part of that is down hill; ‘child’s play’ my old hiking buddy Lenny would say.
With any ’luck’ at all I’ll be back in the suburbs by dark-thirty, ready to face
The carpentered world but with the promise that
I will come this way again.
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