Inside: The itinerant wanderers; Camping; Backpacking; StayCamping; #HikingWhileBlack
So that’s what it’s like.
I talk about people who travel a lot. Extensively. Compulsively. Because they never seem settled. It doesn’t matter where they are. They need to be somewhere else. I don’t really relate to that and it’s a downer when the dynamic, adventurous nomadic people take off, which they always do
I’ve been out of town on the weekends (car) camping four times in the past six weeks.
Not including the backpacking trip tomorrow at Dolly Sods in WV with the DC Backpacking meetup group. My pack is very heavy. This is a beginner friendly trip, though. Only 3 to 4 miles from the trail head to the campsite. I’m a little nervous. My knee has been clicking a lot the past two days. Also, there won’t be any bathrooms. I used to just hold it for the entire weekend but that is not good for business. That’s not good for anybody. Sometimes it’s just not possible. Guess I’m gonna learn about cat holes this weekend. Not a euphemism.
It’s amazing how much stuff is in the pack.
I got some organizers, which helps a lot. I’m intentionally not going for ultralight or even light weight. For example, I’m taking an overpriced lightweight, relatively speaking, cot. I’m determined to get a good night or two of sleep this weekend. Comfort is my priority this time out.
It should be a good time. Another weekend mini-vacation.
It’s a strange thing. I’ve met, hiked, and camped with great people. I’ve seen some unbelievable sights. Surreally beautiful. A real, live horse’s head was inside my car less than a week ago. Right through the open front passenger door as I watched from the open driver side door. (She was trying to eat my Vita Coco lemonade.) Then I had to move because another horse trotted over to the driver’s side.
Then I come home and decompress, mentally preparing to work the next day.
It’s like being filled and emptied at the same time. Full of the energy and centering that the outdoors provides. Drained from the travel, the outdoors sleep, the change in eating habits, the change in your circadian rhythm, and being a little homesick. Two days of camping completely resets my internal clock for weeks. I’m naturally waking up around 6:30 now. Weird. Gotta start using that time to be productive, though. Extra lifetime is not to be wasted.
When I get back I have the compulsion to be outdoors again while simultaneously flirting with mental fatigue at the thought of all of the organizing, wrangling, researching, and mental energy it takes to get things right. Anticipating the necessary obsessive attention to detail.
So maybe I can relate to my meandering nomadic friends. I’m more grounded and more unsettled. Sated but parched. Stoked to meet new people but missing the ones who aren’t there.
I’m definitely going to chill out after this weekend, though. Gotta recuperate and build up the energy stores.
What a world.
I had an idea. I think it’s an amazing idea. It can be tiring to road trip all over to enjoy the outdoors. Besides, I can’t keep up with serious backpackers. Those folks are intense. In. Tents.
I did a short 3 mile training hike with the full, loaded backpack a few weeks ago. It was interesting. Backpacking packs are so well made these days that you barely notice they’re there, despite the 20 to 50 lbs. Until you’re climbing. That’s when it hits the fan.
I’m not into long hikes these days, though. Seven miles is a good length for a long hike. They will easily do 15 miles for a long day hike. They’ll hike 50 miles over three days. Three days in a row of 16+ miles of hiking with 30 to 50 lbs. of gear.
But here’s my idea: Load up the gear and hike/walk/hitchhike to the Burke Lake or Lake Fairfax campsites and enjoy the suburban wilderness. Hike right up the CCT to W&OD or whatever. Heck I could even take public transit. I’m not ready to do bike camping even though it’s kind of the best of both worlds. Mo’ money.
Local getaways right here in our proverbial backyard.
I can do a car camping and mountain biking weekend at Patapsco State Park — my favorite place ever. Or multiple parks over the course of a few days.
So many possibilities.
IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN
Oh. I’m doing that thing again. I find a new hobby and get much more excited about it than anyone I know. Hiking, biking, tennis, snowboarding, camping. You name it. Then I spend all the money on gadgets.
It’s hard finding people with matching or compatible crazy. Not to mention the time. Even the social scenes and activity-specific meetups I’ve sought out don’t fit the bill. Some aren’t nearly as active as I’d like and others are too advanced. REI has great outings but I’ve spent my class/tour budget on camping gear this Spring. I’ll find ’em, though. I’ll find my outdoor tribe. I know you’re out there. Come out, come out, wherever you are! Ya bunch of crazies.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. It’s all going in the library of skills, knowledge, and experience and charisma points. When you’re ready, let me know. What I know, you know.
HIKING WHILE BLACK
A friend asked me to contribute to a FB page and instagram for #hikingwhileblack #hwb.
The idea, for me anyway, is to contribute images and writing to normalize the presence of black people in the outdoors.
That may seem weird. Like … why? It’s not meant to be exclusive of anyone else’s experience but….
Do a google image search for yoga or hiking or anything fun and outdoorsy. Look on Pinterest. It’s 99% millennial white people. There’s nothing wrong with millennial white people. Some of my favorite people are millennial white people. Everything I’ve learned over the past few years that’s outdoor related? I learned from adventurous, outdoorsy white people. Some of my best friends are adventurous, outdoorsy white folks. Nothin’ but love.
But it is infuriating and stressful to be erased. To not exist in the eyes of the world. To not be seen in these positive, relaxing, beautiful images and environments. To not be associated with lush greenery, flowing rivers, turbulent rapids, blue skies, tents, valleys and summits.
Personally, I want black people to also see the outdoors and assorted adventures as restorative, rejuvenating options for therapeutic leisure and entertainment. Everybody benefits from taking a step closer to our natural surroundings. Knowledge of the outdoors — skills, places — are heirlooms and legacies that are passed down from one generation to the next.
When I showed pictures of Great Falls to my family my mother said, “Great Falls? That’s where we took you all a long time ago.”
I was like, “Exactly. Thank you.”
I want to take professional quality images of underrepresented people in the outdoors. It’s very hard to be what you never see. Photos of all kinds of people together in the outdoors. Operative word: “together“.
With all of the benefits, tangible and intangible, that nature provides, it’s a travesty if and when so many are missing out, especially at a time when everyone needs to increase their chill.
Let’s get out there and play together, everybody.