A friend recently expressed an uncharacteristic desire to go camping, and I found myself sagely offerring bits of advice and help, such as the camping checklist that Viv and I have been using and refining for the past couple of years.
This is odd, if natural, as two years ago we more or less just started from scratch. It’s interesting to me that the list really is well-developed enough to be helpful to another.
Viv and I don’t really fit the profile of the northwestern outdoor enthusiast, preferring campsites that include a parking spot to those that you have to walk your gear in to. I suppose that makes us part of the problem, but so be it.
We’ve lived in Seattle for 13 years, and until about three years ago I was more-or-less totally indifferent to living here amidst all the amazing scenery and national or state parkland. I camped a great deal with my parents growing up, and while I always enjoyed it, rock and roll, computers, books, women, and booze, in varying orders through the years, were always of greater interest to me.
Viv and I had been looking for shared interests – especially interests that we could develop together – when camping occurred as something we both enjoyed, but which we never had really pursued either before meeting one another or after. On one of our first trips (I believe to the Deer Creek campground on the lower elevations of Mt. Rainier) we happened upon an overlook viewpoint that I had childhood memories of.
The view was of the Carbon Glacier, I think. I was utterly apalled by what I saw. Half of the glacier was gone, in comparison to my unreliable childhood memory. I’m a full-blown subscriber to the idea that global warming is going to dramatically and uncontrollably change many things in our environment, and this tapped a sort of apocalyptic fear in my mind.
No, that’s not quite right.
It tapped a selfish desire to amass time in the wooded parklands of the Northwest before the increasing length and heat of the summer dramatically changes the appearance and sounds of these locations. Because I have a few childhood memories of backwoods experiences with my northwest-native parents and grandparents, somehow being in the woods connects me to those experiences.
Of course, I can’t tell in detail what the effect of the changes will be. If we do get more sun here in town over the course of a year, I can’t say I’m agin it. But it was frightening and sad to see the glacier’s retreat.
If not for that start, I rather doubt I would ever have had the experience of reading The Illiad aloud at night by a campfire, which, really, is pretty cool. That’s deep time, right there.