An Intro to Camping & Hiking
Why climb the stairway to heaven on earth?
For campers and hikers, the phrase "when nature calls" is more than a euphemism for going to the bathroom. Open skies, mountain ranges and desert plains have an allure the Manhattan skyline can't match.
For some, summer holidays don't begin until the family vacation starts, while others need an isolated mountain top to shake off the cubicle blues. But with all the gear, planning, supplies and time it takes, why do we do it? The answers are as varied as our readers.
Face to Face with Nature
Many nomads got their first glimpse of wildlife through Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. But zoom shots of wildebeests at a watering hole won't prepare you for the real thing. Winston Churchill once said, "There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result." Clearly, The British Bulldog never crossed paths with a grizzly.
Fortunately, most close encounters of the wildlife kind are benign and bring a sense of peace rather than fear. Stumbling across a family of deer nibbling branches in the woods or spotting a mountain goat scampering up a rocky cliff can't be replicated in staged environments or captured adequately on film. Seeing is believing, and you can't see nature through a TV tube.
When a Tree Falls in the Forest …
If no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Unless they've taken advanced philosophy, most campers and hikers don't care. After all, they're trekking the woods to discover nature, not solve existential enigmas. Spend some time in the forest and not only will you be able to describe the sound of a mighty pine crashing to earth, you'll witness the new life that springs from fallen trees. Once you've witnessed the intricate cycle of nature, you won't be content wandering the malls in your time off.
The Great Escape
As our world becomes more connected through e-mail, text messages and cell phones that never stop ringing, the only place we seem comfortable abandoning our communication hardware is at the campground. While we might feel naked without our Blackberry, bar-hopping on Sunset Boulevard, it's considered boorish to hike the Adirondacks with a cell phone crammed in your ear.
As we disconnect our technology, we connect with our travel companions. So the real question for outdoor adventurers is: If a hiker talks in the forest, does anybody hear? Apparently so.