Why is camping stench fun?
By JEFF LUND
September 12, 2015
That is, I don’t know why I like (and get to do) the things I do. Yeah I have a job, and teachers get the summers off, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There are more circumstances involved, none of which are really worth isolating and analyzing, but I am a little curious about life ingredients.
I’m sitting on my couch, in my half of a duplex with no television, watching friends post more pictures from our summer float down a section of the Stikine River.
It’s so easy to be deliberate and meaningful in life, but that isn’t what happens. Even the slightest bit of work detours us. We can go long stretches with no deep visits to the lifestyle that makes is alive because we can’t afford it, have no one to go with or the plan is never mixed with action.
On the way back to Ketchikan after four nights in tents or hotel on hotel floors, finished with the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet in the dining room of the Columbia, Ben wanted to keep going. Not dock back at our normal lives. We all did. Not literally, because staying on the boat meant we’d be leaving Alaska, but Zack and I knew what he meant.
I’d wanted to check out the Stikine River since I saw the glacial hue it created in front of Wrangell the first time I went there as a high school freshman. It took a long, long time to make it happen, but it was worth the wait.
You can’t come back from a trip like that and not wonder how many people would be that blissfully alone and willing to take on the whims of nature. Camping is torture for some, but you don’t want to judge, because you don’t know what makes you wired like this.
Not everyone can wake up, see that a kayak was either pushed out into the current by a moose with a sick sense of humor, or the wind and river, then shrug and figure out a plan rather than panic. It’s engaging to be forced to deal with mishaps afield. It’s the only time I tolerate math story problems.
Okay, we had a ton of gear we barely fit into three kayaks, two canoes and my one-man raft. Now, we still have eleven people, still have a ton of gear, yet we are a vessel down.
Of course it is easier to handle this when you’re with ten quality, non-panic people determined to have fun, not set on having a bad time, and it's June and the weather is in the 70s.
We obviously made it and the kayak was found downriver and returned to the owner. Now we’re in the inevitable replaying phase of a good trip: being without cell phone service, putting contact lenses in dehydrated eyeballs, scampering into bear territory to squat and dispose of yesterday’s spicy turkey chili MRE, flipping canoes into frigid water, mosquitos and sand - in the tent, between the toes, in the ears.
I’m glad all that is fun for me. I’m glad I figured out I was programmed this way before it was too late. Most of all I’m glad I live in a place where floating down rivers is so convenient, and there are plenty of people ready to go.
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, living in Ketchikan, Alaska