I Think to Myself: “What A Wonderful World”

Will Christopher

Contributing Writer

 

One of the best aspects of the Earth is the natural beauty that it has to offer. At a young age, I realized that I wanted to make the beauty the Earth has to offer a consistent part of my life, and have done just that, through countless hikes and camping trips. Part of what makes camping enticing is how different of an experience it is for everyone. For some people, it’s as simple as renting a cabin, getting a bunch of friends together, and doing some partying in the great outdoors. For others, a camping trip can be more intense, coming in the form of a multi-day canoeing adventure or a week-long backpacking trip. Regardless of the gratuity of the trip, however, we all seem to appreciate a common set of themes when we arrive home from a camping trip, which often includes the views that we captured. People are often enthralled by the wild animals they observe, scenic views they encounter and landscapes that they traverse. In my experience, however, there is one part of almost all the camping trips that I have been on that is always the highlight of the journey. The best thing about this part of camping is that it is almost guaranteed to happen on any trip that one engages in. 

Allow me to tell a story. In April of 2021, I was in Virginia on a backpacking trip with four close friends. On approximately the second night of the trip, we had set up camp near the top of Old Rag Mountain. We talked for a bit about all the riveting memories that we were building that day, but in my head, I knew that the best part of the trip was yet to come. Within an hour, everyone had tucked into their hammocks and gone to bed, but I stayed awake. It’s funny that in the modern world, people freak out when they can’t fall asleep, but when you’re camping, it’s the best thing ever. As I lie there awake in my hammock, I looked up at the sky and listened. All I could hear was the distant hum of insects and the occasional cricket, but other than that there was nothing. Complete silence dominated the surrounding area. To go with this, there was the image of the sky. The sky sat above me with a couple of shiny stars sprinkled through it, but outside of that, there was just inky darkness. Not the kind of darkness that one fears, but instead the kind of darkness that when mixed with the right amount of silence, is simply mesmerizing. For me, that is the best part of camping. There’s a certain peace of mind and therapeutic sense of security that comes from hearing absolutely no human noise, seeing no sights, and allowing stress to melt away. The only unfortunate part of this experience is that I’ve never been able to recreate it while away from the wilderness, and that’s part of why I go back to the woods time and time again. 

Regardless of whether or not you want to do this yourself, I do strongly recommend going camping if you never have, or continuing to do it frequently if it’s already a pastime of yours. If nothing else, the sights and experiences you take in while camping are nothing short of immaculate and it would be a shame if someone lived their life without experiencing them once.