“The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.”
— Joseph Wood Krutch, Today and All Its Yesterdays, 1958
That’s how I feel after getting back from a 10 day camping and whitewater rafting trip on the Nahatlatch River; the wilderness was truly the home of my human spirit for those 10 days. 10 days of living in a tent, hauling water from the river, camp stove cooking, no power, no cell phone, no internet. 10 days of bliss cut off from my world as I know it.
Henry David Thoreau said of nature:
“The indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature–of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter–such health, such cheer, they afford forever and such sympathy have they ever with our race, that all Nature would be affected, and the sun’s brightness fade, and the winds would sigh humanely, and the clouds rain tears, and the woods shed their leaves and put on mourning in midsummer, if any man should ever for a just cause grieve.”
Mr. Thoreau was a master wordsmith and he manages to capture exactly in this paragraph the sheer marvellousness of Nature, of living with only her rhythms as your time clock and guide. I came back home tired, but completely refreshed in spirit and mind (and in case it wasn’t obvious, while I may have some small talent with the English language, I’m not Thoreau). The privations of living without all the modern conveniences force you to live totally and completely in the moment. Each day is filled with the simplicity of just living, looking neither to the past or the future, totally absorbed in today.
Here is the gorgeous Nahatlatch River from the Apocynum campground we stayed at. Totally off-grid, totally unserviced. Pack in everything you need, pack out everything with you.
The first night in the campground it was just the wingchick and me . . .we were absolutely the only human souls there and I have to say we were just a wee bit nervous . . .there might have been non-human souls (like bears) really close by. Or worse yet . . .hillbilly souls. These gals had no desire to become the unwilling brides of a couple good ol’ boys from out of them thar hills. We were 20 miles from anywhere, down a steep, winding, rutted forestry road that gave us fits driving in. Hillbilly country without a doubt!!! Fortunately it stays light until late, but as night finally fell over the campground the darkness was complete and absolute. Hold your hand up in front of your face . . . it’s too dark to see it. There were a few stars, but in a heavily forested area their little lights don’t shine very bright. Going to the outhouse at 3am is an exercise in determination . . .and fear!
Something we quickly came to appreciate, however, was the ever-present rushing of the river. I had not realized just how loud a river in full flow can be . . .really loud. The blessing is that it covers up all the little night-time rustling noises of the forest, so you don’t spend all night lying in your tent wondering if THAT rustle is Yogi coming for a snack, or Billie Joe coming for a bride. And you come to love the sound of the river. It was disconcerting when we finally left and didn’t have that river noise anymore, I missed it a whole lot.
The next day the rest of our camping group arrived and the blissful serenity of that first day gave way to the busyness of camping with a large group of people. But it’s also a whole lot of fun and you really connect with people – no TV, no music, no anything to provide distraction. You have the campfire to sit around and conversations just seem to flow. You spend a whole lot of time talking and listening and getting to know people in completely different way than you would under “normal” circumstances. Lifelong friendships are made at camp. Always.
But it wasn’t all deep conversations and communing with Nature. Heck no, we were there for some fun and excitement as well. And what better way to do that than whitewater rafting. We were hooked up with the amazing Reo Rafting for our rafting adventure, and we could not have made a better choice. So much fun, amazing, fantastic guides and a great resort to hang out at after rafting.
And that’s how we spent our days – raging fun and excitement on the river, hot tubbing at the resort afterwards, some serious R&R by the campfire and a blissful nights’ sleep. And yes, we got over our fear of both bears and hillbillies and managed to return home unravaged by either, although these are paddling words to live by and if the guides said “paddle hard” I never questioned why, I just got on that blade.
“The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched”