Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the wind river range

My family backpacks, as an annual vacation; instead of hotel rooms, tents; and instead of Italian restaurants, dehydrated bean soup and potatoes. Escaping work, my dad would fish each stream and lake in the Wind River Range till he ran out of flies, or until my mom decided that the thunderstorms were becoming a problem. This summer, we explored the Whiskey-Creek basin. My parents are still up there, in the Wind River Range, for the rest of the week. My sister and I hiked out before we got to see Bomber Basin, a relatively unexplored area that (supposedly) still hides the remnants of a WWII plane, that crashed in the mountains decades ago.

I swam every day for 60 seconds in water that increased my heart rate to aerobic workout standards. The change I felt in my lungs (after 7 days living above 10,000 feet in elevation) was dramatic. Whiskey-Creek is one of the lower basins we've visited; still, as I circled a lake, climbing over large screes, I felt the tingling in the bottom of my feet and the ends of my fingers that says "We are not getting oxygen!"

At night, you can see meteors. Sleep is something that saves you from the wind. In the morning, my feet always hurt from the day before, and putting my boots on makes me wonder if I spent the previous night karate-kicking cinder blocks or something. By 8 o clock, or after breakfast, I'm acclimated and limber, even mentally alert; sometimes I go entire workdays in a state of mental detachment!

Camping isn't about camping, really. It's about the rest of your life.

I am indoors a lot. On a daily basis, I get served a lot of things, turn a lot of keys, press a lot of buttons. Consider how much forethought you would put into a day spent entirely alone, outside on your front lawn. If you couldn't go inside for 24 hours, and if your girlfriend didn't cook you dinner, what would you bring? I gawk at how much I depend on simple things like a porch light, dry furniture, and windows.

Windows? ...so you can choose when and which and how each outside element effects you.

I also decided to undertake Moby Dick, buying a paperback version at a small bookstore in Lander, Wyoming. As I was huddled up in my sleeping bag, listening to the wind (which had already blown the stakes out of my tent) and the stream (ten yards from my feet) I read this, and went to sleep:

"To truly enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself... for this reason, a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal."

...Such a cute example of a concept pastors try to teach their churches, parents try to teach children, and martyrs try to teach themselves! True appreciation comes only through some element of disregard, suffering, or loss. "Nothing exists in itself." Well put!