Posted by: highmountainmuse | June 20, 2009

Being at camp

In the early morning watching the sun come down the mountains

In the early morning watching the sun come down the mountains

Camping is one of those things I know is not for everyone – sleeping just an inch or so off the ground, smoke wafting in your face and ash settling in your food, dirty clothes and fingernails a constant – but I love it.  Call me crazy (you won’t be the first one) but I miss it and long for it by the end of winter, and after the spring rush of roads opening up, the mountain buzzing to life with projects, people, plans, problems… heading to the high country is a welcome relief for me.  Even if it means digging ditch while I’m up there. 

The first night I begin to unwind, relax, let go. I breath and it becomes deep and slow and steady. The high mountain air fills me with its thin but intense richness until I am full, complete, feeling myself and the world around me in away I cannot do with distractions and noises and sights and sounds that remind me of other things I could and should be doing besides just being there.

In the sound of the rushing creek, I still here motors approaching, trucks and ATVs driving up, for which back home I must stop whatever I’m working on. But here, we’re in the Wilderness.  The one with the capital “W.” The magnificent Weminuche Wilderness, the largest of Colorado’s Wilderness areas.  There are no vehicles here.  From our camp, the nearest motors are miles and miles and miles away, except for the occasional over passing plane.  And still, all that first night I mistake the sounds… the creek is the roar of an engine, the stomping of a horses foot is the slamming of a cabin door, the chorus of the birds is the barking dogs and yelling neighbors…

But slowly I learn to hear.  And the rush of the river fills me, the sweet song of the birds whirls around me and surrounds me with relief.  The snort of my horses relieves me, a reminder of how content and relaxed they too are in their high mountain pasture.

The first morning I awake as the tent begins to glow with early silver light.  I bundle in wool and down before heading out of the warm zipped up cocoon of the tent, leaving the sleeping boys and dog behind for another hour or so of well needed sleep, to take the horses from the high line and turn them out to graze.  They are anxious; they nicker excitedly as they see me and paw the ground until it is their turn to be released, always hardest for the last horse tied.

Then I return to the camp, build the fire and put on a big pot of water.  As I await the first cup of “cowboy coffee,”  I wander up the trail, following perhaps an elk trail across the frosty meadow, or meander through a thicket of spruce and sub alpine fir trees, heavy and lush with the rich ground amassed from years of undisturbed growth.  I return to camp as the coffee has boiled, pour a cup, stoke the fire, sit quiet and still and listen.  It is loud. The birds – I can not make them all out there are so many in those early morning hours – create a wild but joyous cacophony throughout the surrounding treetops.  The river runs stronger in the morning, roaring loudly to one side of camp.  If I listen clearly, I can discern this from the sound of the gentle brook flowing on the other side, the one from which I gather our camp waters and from which our horses drink.

The fire begins to warm me.  I sit and listen.  And for but a moment, there is wanting for nothing else.


  1. Basil and I love those nature sounds too, but we have to be creative to hear them. Basil has landscaped one end of our yard and included a rippling stream of water and waterfall. We went to the Amist country and picked up a big birdhouse and planted many flowers.

    Now, we can sit on the screened porch or yard swing and just listen to the sounds. The birds love us for providing their treats and the squirrels are not sure. They can’t figure out how to get past the squirrel guard on the feeder post…so they are eating the post. :))

    I can feel the sounds in your writing.

    Brenda Hudson

  2. Lovely description…takes me right there.

    *serene moment*

    I admit my idea of camping involves room service. I love being outdoors for days on end, don’t mind bugs and dirt, have napped in the dirt with my head on a saddle, and could stay outside forever, in fact.

    It’s the sleeping/shower thing that gets me every time. When we camp, we do camping lite: air mattresses, campgrounds with showers and 400 of our closest neighbors who party all night. *sigh*

    I still think “if only I could ‘camp’ and return to my bed at night!”

  3. Brenda, I so enjoy picturing you and your Basil on your swing… your love of each other and appreciation for your world around you. What could be more beautiful?

  4. Jane, I’m trying to picture your camping scene – and once again, getting a chuckle at the visual. I don’t know about that 400 close neighbors part… that sounds scary to a hermit like me.

  5. Being away from the sounds of the city is like a wonderful dream . When i used to get out i would get up before the sun and watch it come up sipping a good cup of coffee . Warm up last nights stew and get ready to seeing what the day will bring . Walking and hiking used to be my favorite with to do .Im going back to doing it after i get back in shape . It will not be the same doing it by myself . But i guess one has to move on and that will be a good start . I have read a lot of people writing about there life and what they do and have done but no one has made me see and be a part of it like you .Keep up the writing it gets me and im sure a lot of other away from there frantic pace to a slower pace that life should be depending on our self not someone else to do every thing for you

  6. Don, I so appreciated your comment last Monday, I read it right as we were heading out and it meant a great deal. Yes, we are family now…

    I was thinking about you starting… just getting out there and walking. A man and his dog. You don’t need to wait for a companion; you don’t need to wait to get in shape. Just a little at a time. Just start. Just be out there. Walk a few steps and sit. Sitting is good, when you’re “out there.” You know how healing that can be on so many levels.

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