In the tent: Camping invasion
Fifteen people and six tents isn’t a camp out, it’s an invasion. At least, it seemed that way to me, a seasoned solo backpacker who’s used to a minimalist’s existence in the woods.Still, I was pleased to note that, among the group of friends, offspring and a couple of extraneous teenagers who gathered at Chapman Campground last weekend, no one among us showed up in an RV tricked out with a rumbling generator and a television set. No wimpy geezers here. Plus, we had all the noisemakers – and entertainment – we needed with three children under the age of 8 hopped up on s’mores around the campfire. Yes, we were all still hard core enough to spend a couple of nights in the great outdoors without bringing every convenience of home, but our colorful array of tents dotting the woods along the river proved about the only exception to the aura of middle age that permeated our camp.It wasn’t so much the presence of kids that reminded me we’re all growing older, but rather the choice of drugs being passed among the adults. Several among our party were using/abusing a veritable drugstore of cold and allergy remedies. At least they washed them down with hard liquor and/or beer. Personally, I turned to painkillers – ibuprofen, specifically – after three of us took off for what the trip leader figured to be a relatively easy summit attempt on Saturday. He said there’d be some bushwhacking at the start. Needless to say, the entire climb – at least the part I managed to finish – was one grueling bushwhack through underbrush and across boulder fields, most of it on what felt like at least a 40-degree pitch. I made it to the ridge, which afforded views of not much, and refused to go higher. Instead, I opted for a crippling descent. I felt 10 years older by sundown.On Sunday, I managed to sustain the most impressive injury of the outing, despite the ample opportunity for trauma afforded by tots playing with burning, pointy sticks and a feverish woman, reeling from a cocktail of over-the-counter medications and mosquito repellent, wielding an ax.Yes, it was I who provided the final act of entertainment by puncturing my thumb with a fish hook well beyond the barb. The little kids appeared to find the whole incident pretty fascinating, especially when their dad yanked it out with a forceps while I gritted my teeth.At least I didn’t cry.
It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.