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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Ten Stages of Camping Grief


I really should have followed my own advice about camping on Labor Day weekend,

“Don't.”  It serves me right to suffer though the ten stages of camping grief. These include but are not limited to anticipation, denial, bargaining, depression, hopelessness, fear, bitterness, blame, disgust and gratitude.

The camping trip began with anticipation.  I thought there would be the traditional Labor Day blackberry cobbler. Many species of wild life cue their seasonal migrations to a food source so when the blackberries are ripe on the Hoh River it is not unusual to see fishing guides congregate on a river bank for the expected pie or cobbler.  When there was no blackberry cobbler I fell into a sense of denial where I thought we could get some cobbler if only it would stop raining long enough to pick some blackberries. That was a futile notion that things were bad but they could not get any worse. Read on

This lead to another stage of camping grief, bargaining where you hope things will get better if you move somewhere else but really who were we trying to kid? It's Labor Day. All of the campgrounds were full and we're stuck in a war zone where scary people want help, right now!

They drove their trucks into the Hoh River.  One truck got stuck trying to pull the other one out. This triggered another stage of the camping process, depression.

In the old days people travelled our rivers in canoes by poling them. That’s where the canoeist stood in the stern of the canoe and pushed it upstream with a pole. There is a story of the old Indian Chief that forbade the use of poles on the river near his village, insisting the people paddle their canoes instead.  He feared the poles pushing down into the gravel would kill the salmon eggs in the spawning beds.

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend where people were driving their trucks in the river to go camping.

A truck represents many gallons of toxic waste. The Hoh River is unpredictable. It might not even be raining where you are, but there could be a gully-washer up on the glacier that will raise the river one foot per hour.  If the river had come up just a couple of feet while the truck was in the water, it would become  just another twisted chunk of scrap metal in a log jam. One of many witnessed over the years. This was an emergency but with all of the borrowed rigging we could find we could not move the muscle-truck one inch. There was nothing we could do but lapse into another stage of camping grief, hopelessness.

This lead to a sense of fear as the campers cranked up a Death-Metal jam to “11,” began shooting semi-automatic weapons into the river and started a campfire the size of a truck that looked like an incendiary explosion by night and one of Saddam's burning oil wells by day.  Then I heard something whistle like a bird call but all the birds had been scared away.  That was no bird. It was the sound of bullets ricocheting off the water. Must be why shooting on water is not recommended, even if there is not a highway on the other side of the river. Bullets can ricochet off water in any direction.

One of the great things I have always liked about camping is that it can bring people closer together. Unfortunately many campers do not appreciate huddling closer together behind an engine block hoping to dodge the hail flying lead. This lead to another stage of camper's grief, the bitterness and blame on whoever wanted to go camping in the first place. By the end of Labor Day weekend all that was left was the disgust of cleanup. The scary camper’s fire burned for two days after they left. We filled garbage sacks with empty shells, live rounds, half burnt plastic, broken bottles and burnt cans. All of which left us with a sense of gratitude that Labor Day Weekend was finally over.





1 comment:

  1. WOW!! I'm sorry the first/?last, hoh river blues festival seems to be part of your rotten holiday weekend----mine was great...thanks and thankee and I think I have your harmonicas, someones guitar pick and a pair of sunglasses. you know the address. Let's do it again.