The first warm weekend of each year means a special camping trip. Instead of planning an extravagant hiking or fishing trip – we simply choose a new, but beautifully scenic location and pack accordingly. These first adventures serve as a way to reconnect with the wilderness and familiarize ourselves with new outdoor gear purchased over a long and cold Maine winter. I like to call this a time to become “re-grounded in how life is meant to be”. Chopping wood, cooking three meals a day over an open flame, and listening to the rustling overhead as wind blows through the trees is serene.
Rifling through a New England atlas, we find a promising location along New Hampshire’s Swift River to make camp. Offering both mountainous views and, as the name would suggest, a wild river by which we’d make our weekend home. Located in the heart of the White Mountain range, our tent would be wedged between forty-eight 4,000 ft. mountains.
GPS coordinates lead us to a spot with just enough grass to park alongside a narrow country road. Tossing packs over our shoulders, we follow a compass into the woods and listen for the sounds of rushing water. The afternoon is young and within an hour the tent is setup. A stack of firewood begins to grow next to a circle of stacked rocks still caked with spring dirt and mud. This ring will serve perfectly for this weekend’s fires.
Afternoons are well-spent in a hammock re-reading several books by Henry David Thoreau snatched from the bookshelf on the way out the door. Warm rays of sunshine gleam through the forest ceiling. The sun, combined with a chorus of songbirds, soon finds the book resting softly on my chest and my eyelids closed tightly. True relaxation has set in and is hopefully placing a precedent for the remainder of this year’s camping trips.
Bacon and egg breakfasts, lunches of dutch oven pizza, and dinner-time stews adequately fill the void left in our stomachs from hours of exploring the lay of the land, chatting fireside and splitting wood. Entertainment is found in card games as well as a Frisbee we packed. No matter how you choose to spend your time in the woods – enjoy it and relax; these memories will stick with you for a lifetime.
As we exit the woods and begin the drive back home I mull over how my new axe proved to be as sharp as it is American made. The Swift River was as refreshing to quench our thirst as it was to wash our faces in the early morning. I can’t wait for next weekend…