I haven’t done a lot of camping, unless you count the weeks at the end of the summer when my sister and I would sleep in a faded blue canvas tent my dad bought at the Holiday surplus store in the 60s. We would pile in all of the blankets from our bedroom, listen to Neil Diamond and John Denver records, and read chapters from The Boxcar Children or Judy Bloom to each other by flashlight. When the time came for us to take down the tent and return to our beds, days before school would start, the grass would be flat and yellow and match the changing aspen leaves.
In early August, my husband Ben and I spent 6 days backpacking across the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia with our friends Ryan and Jess. We hiked 50 miles along foggy coastlines and through canopy covered rainforests, making our way up and down ladders and over suspension bridges and zip lines, falling asleep every night on the beach, listening to the waves moving away from the shore as the tide went out. It was paradise.
When we finished the hike, our boots were thick with mud and our bodies were covered in a weeks worth of sweat. A ferry took us back to the landing at Port Renfrew to sign off of the trail and wait for our pick-up. We sat on our packs by the road watching cars pull in and out of the harbor, waiting for a man that we had never met. After an hour, Evan arrived. He was easy to spot. We could see the rubber testicles dangling from his trailer hitch as he drove up. He was tall, his head was covered with tight red curly hair, and bright gold crowns covered his 4 front teeth. Jess and I rode in the back seat of his white ford truck with an older Swiss couple that had finished the hike shortly after us. Ben and Ryan jumped in the bed with our packs and Evan’s dog. I could see them through the back window, bouncing as we drove over the washboard surface of the dirt road, kicking up a cloud of dust behind us. If we had the supplies to turn around and do the trail again, we would have, but at that moment it was good to be back in civilization.
In my first week after moving to Ann Arbor the rain hasn't stopped. I finally pulled my nylon jacket out of the trunk of the car and could still smell the heavy smoke from the driftwood campfires we had every night on the beach. It reminded me of the trip, of being with friends, of the musty tent from my childhood. It made me feel like I was home.
(photos by: erin)