Archives for August 1990

Solo Trip

North Carolina

8/11/90 – 8/13/90

This solo is long overdue. As I pull into the parking lot, the "trailhead" sign takes on a special significance. "This is the beginning," it implies. Just where it comes out, you will have to travel and see for yourself. And the trails continually split, leaving me to choose my direction in an unknown land.

Yet the trails through these woods look much the same as trails in other woods. Though I’ve never been here before, somehow I know I’m on familiar ground. There are trees and streams and sights and sounds all about me, and it doesn’t quite matter which way I go, so long as I know how to get back when I’m ready to leave.

* * *

Deciding where to camp: while walking along a trail that parallels a stream, I found myself looking for a place to camp. Yet with each potential spot, I would say to myself "what if there is something better around the bend?" Although on one level, the question makes perfect sense, I wonder how many really good sites might be passed up due to expectations of what may follow.

* * *

Solos are indeed unique and valuable. There is something special about spending time alone in the woods. I walk through steeply sloping hills and valleys and am made quite aware of the fact that I am a living being and that the earth is my home. A house on a plot of land provides permanent, secure shelter, but houses in towns and cities have become so removed from the natural environment that a tent in the woods is often a far more comfortable and realistic place to live.

* * *

Talking — the ability to speak our thoughts to others is truly phenomenal. Yet on solo, there is really no need to make any noise at all. By themselves, people are basically silent creatures.

* * *

I’m perched beneath a dense grove of rhododendrons, looking out to the creek in front of me. Occasionally, drops of rain fall through the canopy to reach me, but they are nothing compared to the torrent of rain I see just feet in front of my face. I’m sitting here, protected, looking through a natural window to a world of wetness.

* * *

Few things are as much fun as the simplicity of throwing rocks at a pool of water. Big ones, small ones, flat, round, pointed or square ones — throwing rocks is just fun to do. I like to spin them and watch their gyrations as they are following the parabolic arc that starts as they leave my hand and ends with a splash or a thunk when they hit the water.

Aim is not important, but trying to hit some target can easily occupy a young mind for hours on end. And once the rock lands in the water, the surface quickly struggles to regain its composure. Having sunk to the bottom, the stone becomes motionless until stronger currents or another hand sends it soaring again.

* * *

I’ve been sitting here on a cold rock for close to an hour now, yet were it not for the encroachment of night, I imagine I’d stay for several more.

The repeating terraces in the stream in front of me have changed from a reflecting sheet of glass to a taught fabric of darkness. The individual leaves and branches along the shore have merged to become a curtain across the horizon.

The rocks and white ripples are the last of the details to fade into night, but as visual details give way to the darkness, the air becomes filled with the sounds of the emerging world of night. First comes the peeper frogs, then the crickets, followed shortly by the flutter of the bats, the buzz of mosquitoes, and the cries of distant owls hunting afar. Dusk is less the end of day than it is the transitory gateway to life in the dark.


Copyright (C), 1998, by Ashley Guberman