|English: Wikipedia:Heilbronn, hike tour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Winter camping was never my favorite activity though I did my share. As the warmer days set in, camping became higher on my list of things to do. The camping adventures typically happened on a Friday or Saturday when most of the other adventurers in our circle of friends didn't have to work the next day. This one April Friday evening was an ideal night for camping.
About eight of us gathered at the cabin in preparation for the hike to the top of Kelly Ridge. The trail head was about a quarter mile from our cabin and from there it was another mile or so to the top of the mountain. By the time everyone was ready to go, darkness had set in. It was a clear moonlit night. Though we used flashlights, we could have made the hike with the light provided by God.
We were a bit of a Godless bunch at that time. Backsliders, most of us raised in the church, but now wild young men who partied on week-ends with booze and drugs. We may have been hiking in the night, but God was always nearby, not guiding us, but watching over us keeping us from harm. We could act tough, but we were also thoughtful and more spiritual than an outsider might have thought.
At the top of the mountain we set up camp not far from one of the deepest caves in America. Except for me, everyone unrolled sleeping bags onto the ground. I strung up a hammock between two trees and laid my sleeping bag in it. Our beds were made, but it was not yet time to lie in them. There was the business of fun to attend to.
We smoked and drank in the semi-darkness and talked about life and its mysteries. Stories were told and we jousted with witticisms. Then a quiet set in as bodies and heads grew heavy. Soon there was no sound except the occasional rustle of the trees above us. It was a quiet forest. The summer sound of insects was not there yet. I looked at the starry sky in the spaces the tree canopy did not cover.
Someday there would be no night hikes or mountain camping for me. This was far from my mind on that night. I was already in the future and continually going further into it. Into a time unknown, but dreamed of. Something was coming for me soon. A new horizon. Tomorrow was another day--a very different day.
Have you ever gone hiking at night? Have you done any wide open camping in the wild? Did you live a wild youth?