20.16.00 - Mark
It seems like every time I go camping, I come back wanting to write about it. To me there's nothing like getting out into the world, hopefully away from the connectivity hot zones and power outlets that I usually inundate myself with. When I started camping though Boy Scouts years ago, I was the guy that took out a tent or two, a sleeping bag, sleeping pads, a hammock, a lounge chair, a folding reclining chair, a couple folding stools, the coolers, the tarps, rope, two backpacks, flashlights out the wazoo, more pots and pans than the average small kitchen, etc. I'm sure my geeky nature shows in that, but more recently I've picked up a zen like camping style. On the camping trip I took up to Raven Knob a week ago I had a tent (I didn't end up using but always pack just in case), a sleeping pad (again not used, but always pack), a sleeping bag, a backpack with cloths for the weekend, a couple Nalgene water bottles, a mess kit, some trail mix, my cameras and a phone. Not a whole lot.
I didn't have to worry about food myself since it was a group trip, but aside from food I still wouldn't have taken much more.
To me there's a zen to camping, the idea is to get away from the information overload and stresses of everyday life. I know I have 48 some hours of podcasts, hours of video to chew though and a pile of books to read, and yes if I wanted I could take them with me, but I'm not going to take them. In daily life I would feel guilty if I idle around, but last week I did just slightly more than nothing and didn't feel the least bit bad about it.
What's odd is, that although I count my self among the digerati, I turned off all of technology I had with me, at least other than my cameras. I left my ipod in the car, the cell phone was turned off, the GPS was in my pack unused. I even had my laptop in the trunk of the car (because I forgot to leave it at home) and I wasn't the least bit tempted to turn it on. Yet I saw half a dozen pod people, not to mention people concerned with cellphones, a GPS device, radios or some other form of an electronic tether. I've even known people to bring personal video devices and TVs to camp with which combined with the gear some of those people bring, almost entirely defeats the purpose of camping. I can't think of something more ironic, or disheartening, than a camper yelling "Hey what's on Survivor over there" (Yes, I have heard this said while camping)
So I'm back to less is more. As long as I'm warm at night and can eat during the day, I'm fine. In the end that's all you really need, and when you strip away all the technology and communications to get back to mankind's pre-tech roots, it reminds you of how little you really need.
Camping really does wonders for the soul. (and hopefully next time, it won't take me a week to write up my experiances.)