A Camp With a View

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Mount_Chocorua_(JJH)I refuse to accept that it’s stealing, as long as all due credit is given to the source, so forgive my use (as the featured image) of another guy’s camp site pic as I prattle on for a bit about what beauty is found in settings such as these.

Seeing this camp site got me to thinking about all those years ago when I first became enamored with the outdoors, and what it was like to experience nature up close and personal. Having grown up in DC – sans a father – I never really got any exposure to camping and fishing and whatnot. That’s ok… it’s just not what we did. But… having said that… city/suburb living is all well and good until someone takes you out to the backcountry and lets you get a great big honkin’ whiff of Mother Nature in all her glory. That’s the stuff that changes lives.

When I left home, and headed to the Great Northeast, I was so overwhelmed by, and overflowing with, the love of all that God gave us to embrace and immerse ourselves in, that I could scarcely sort out just what to do first. Once I left DC, I never went back.

As it turned out, the White Mountains is where I landed.

chocorua_amc_hutMy first camping trip, such as it was, came atop (well, just below the tree line atop) Mt. Chocorua in the White Mts.. The accommodations were… well… “rustic” (h/t SummitPost), but I must say that – to a 21 years-young youth – it was like dying and going to heaven.

No running water, no electricity… and no food, unless someone was smart enough to remind you, before you began your ascent, that it was a smart idea to make sure you had enough supplies to sleep overnight if you had to, on the outside chance you wouldn’t make it back down before dark.

I wasn’t prepared for any of that; my brain was so accustomed to there being a McDonald’s within a 2 mile radius that it never would have occurred to me to worry about fending for myself up there. Thank God I learned that lesson early, before I found myself waking up dead on the side of a mountain trail due to exposure.

We did, in fact, stay overnight (having begun the ascent too late in the day), and I can say that it was a night I’ve never forgotten… and one I’ve thought about many times in the 34 years hence. There was a wood bench cot for a bed, a backback for a pillow, and an incredibly talkative Forestry guy (Park Ranger I guess) to keep us entertained. However much the Forestry Service may have changed after all these years, I’m willing to bet the guys and gals at these sites, and along these trails, love – every bit as much as that guy did oh so very long ago – doing what they do. Nothing else explains how he treated us that night.

view_from_atop_chocoruaIt was this first experience… this maiden voyage… that woke up the outdoorsman in me, and led to many good memories that I still cherish today. Now that I am retired from all the “stuff” I used to do for a living, these memories are (and will continue) flooding back in. That’s a damn fine feeling… I want more of that, thankyouvery much.

Though there were no digital cameras back then, I will leave you with a reasonable facsimile (Google is my friend) of what we awoke to that next morning (in addition to the backache so quickly forgotten back in my youth (damn you old age!).

If you can ever make a trek to the top of this (or any other) mountain before your ability to do so has passed you by… I recommend you do so. It never fully leaves your mind, and is forever in your heart.

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