Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 29, 2015 - Stealth Camping

Thinking about doing some stealth camping under the stars.  Have you ever slept outside at night?  In the warm weather, the problem is the mosquitoes.  In the cold weather, well, it’s the cold.  Both present difficulties, and in either case, those difficulties can be conquered, but sleeping under the stars is not about overcoming difficulties and hardship.

There’s something that happens when you sleep outside.  I can try to explain it, although if you haven’t done it, these might seem like shallow words.  See, you really become a part of the outdoors.  You might get a tiny feel for it here and there in a regular camping situation, but in that kind of situation, you often have a grand tent or trailer, lights, fires, music, etc.  That’s all very fun and does bring us closer to nature, but it’s not the same as stealth camping.

Moving to a secret rhythm.

When you sleep the night in nature, you leave no trace.  There is no fire and not much of a setup.  The idea is to blend in.  A tarp strategically placed here or there, draped over a rope or branch and anchored to the ground with rocks can be very helpful.  Depending on the weather, you may use bug nets or subzero sleeping bags.  But it’s not about the equipment.  It’s about what happens when the sun goes down and there is no fire and no flashlight and the sky is awash with billions of stars.

The world doesn’t go to sleep at night.  On the contrary.  The world comes alive, perhaps even more so than during the daytime, and because you’re not frightening it away with fire or lights or noise, it dances at your feet.  There are sounds and scents that will amaze you.  There are forms of communication between animals and plants that will surprise you.  Yes, plants communicate.  And there is fear sometimes, too.  Most of that fear exists in our minds only because we fear what we do not know or understand.  A real lesson in self-control and faith is learned in the woods at night.  For free.

I think the best part is the “humming.”  I don’t know about other people, but when I wake up outside at the crack of dawn, it is because of the “humming.”  I actually hear a sort of “hum,” a kind of rhythmic pulse.  It seems to go back and forth, closer and farther away, like a giant top spinning somewhere.  It seems louder during the two equinoxes--equally at spring and fall.  It’s the humming that wakes me up, not the dawn.  It’s the humming that announces the change in rhythm.  Then the light comes and the humming goes away and the secret night creatures hide for the day.  It’s the humming that makes the announcement.

When I go back into civilization after a few nights like that, all of the buildings look smaller than usual and are strange to me.  It’s as if they’re slightly wavering and shimmering back and forth, as if they are some sort of mirage that can come and go at any moment, as if they are “humming” somewhere in their own sphere but I can’t hear them.  Then after a few hours, my eyes adjust and everything seems “normal” again.

Sometimes I wonder about the humming.  I wonder if it’s taking me from one reality to another.  Is it really that easy just to jump across to the other side?  I think it is.  Sleep a night under the stars and see if it isn’t true for you as well.

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