Last year my wife and I went off to Sequoia National Forest for a long weekend. Clearly tens of thousands of others had the same idea.
On County 521 in Kernville, we couldn’t help but notice a miles long riverside camping rave underway along the river. Tents were hastily erected stake to stake in treeless roadside culverts, garbage was piled to the side of already burping dumpsters and more than a few errant inflatables were bouncing and floating aimlessly into traffic, not unlike many of the revelers. Barbed-wire bicep tats and bad suspension lifts. A Barstow beach party.
We snaked our way up the mountain without verbalizing the collective fear that our campground would reflect the scene along the river. It did.
I’m not going to pretend that camping hasn’t long been as much of an excuse to commune with illicit substances as it has been a reason to cook s’mores. Guilty as charged. But at what point do we cross the line? Is there even a line?
I’d like to think what happened in Sacramento was a bit much. We seem to be having a harder time cooperating in groups these days. Add to the mixture of machismo and Pabst an additive of the unrestrained, un-walled great outdoors and there’s a good chance someone is going to end up in the fire.
It’s for these reasons that I no longer camp with groups of people, unless I know they’re part an organization that is outside for the outside, not as an excuse to rage-drink their shitty job/lousy marriage/money troubles into a blur of nature trampeling stupidity.
Sad thing is, there’s no stopping it. We can only distance ourselves from it. Like the skiers and boarders who deem resort trails the domain of noobs, I suppose I’m at the same point with developed campgrounds. Have your flush toilets and couch fires, I’m going camping.