What Goes on in the Woods (July 6)

What I learned from my first backpacking/camping trip:  what goes on in the woods stays in the woods (and the internet, of course).

I was initially disappointed about the choice of hike I was stuck with, but this quickly changed.  The hike was not at all “one of the easiest”, involving a 9-mile walk the first day–mostly uphill.  And, well, out trip leaders were, as we all decided to thereafter say, “really the most awesome people” though for different reasons than we might have told the outside world (i.e. camp).

When we’d finally made it to the campsite, a small abandoned orchard, we were all too exhausted, scratched, sweaty, and bug-bitten even for a massage circle.  So the next hour of so was spend filtering streamwater, cooking disgusting macaroni and cheese (the amazing taste of the first few hungry bites was misleading), and setting up our tents.  Over dinner, we discussed the aesthetics (or lack thereof) of the cheese, and decided on a group name for our hike–the Gonorrhea Gang, known only as “GG”.

Next, we used our creativity for the narration of a game of mafia and then– dusk.  The stars came out, and the constellation story-telling began.

And finally, it was dark enough to dig out the flashlights for the highlight of the evening– STAR-TRIPPING.  A simple premise: spin around quickly for a while, looking up at the stars.  Then stare as someone shines a flashlight in your eyes and… well, there you are on the ground, laughing hysterically as the stars and the trees vibrate overhead.

And so, far from civilization, in the middle of the forest, our screams and laughter mingled with the distant thunder and the rustling of the leaves as we revealed the secret moments of our past in loud voices.  And no one cared as the shame light circulated.

As the cold followed the night dew, and lightning lit the horizon, the idea of a midnight swim (skinny dipping in the river?) lost its appeal, so we continued our conversation in the trustworthy privacy of strangers.

Eventually, even our ever-smaller circle grew tired, and my tent-mate and I withdrew… but we needed to “make a phone call”–that is, fertilize the apple tree.  This was sufficiently uncomfortable, but unfortunately necessary after not having used the restroom for more than twelve hours.

12.30 am.  Time to sleep!  Shit.

There are spiders in our tent… oh well.  We were able to get most of them out, sleep for a short six hours, and eat our oatmeal out of a communal pot.

Today (July 6) was less tiring–sneaking into an actual bathroom by a pool on the way, wading in a creek (somewhat clothed), a fifth lunch of peanut butter on bread, and a walk around the NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory).  Sunburnt?  Yes.

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