Since reading Microadventures, I've been fascinated by the idea of sleeping under the stars. Not in a tent, but actually outside, in nothing more than a sleeping bag.
I've done it before. But never alone, far away from comforts of home and hearth, in the wild. I suppose I'm still a bit afraid of the dark.
As I motorcycled east across the state, I was determined to do exactly what I dreaded: find a quiet, secluded corner of earth and wood all to myself and camp there.
Since I left Saturday morning and was returning on Sunday, I had only one night to try it. But by the time I finished up on the lake I was exploring and was on my way, the sun had set. I also hadn't eaten anything in what seemed like ages, and an empty stomach has a way of making itself a priority.
I've learned that it's best to scope out potential campsites during daylight. That may just be personal preference on my part.
I knew then what would serve my purposes. Earlier that day, trying to find the lake, I'd taken a wrong turn and found myself at a derelict, abandoned bridge. I would return there to sleep. I figured I would be safe from anyone stumbling into me during the night as the unused bridge was barricaded with earthworks and warning signs.
I love places like this, despite how creepy they can be (trust me, they are even more so during the night). I think they naturally incite one's curiosity. Where did this road lead? What places are no longer accessible after this road and bridge were closed? Why went into the decision to abandon the road versus repairing it?
Those were the thoughts as I had during the day. Now, at night, conscious thoughts fled as my senses became hyper-attuned to the sounds and sights around me. The rustle of leaves and twigs in the woods around me, slowly encroaching and consuming the asphalt. Broken glass grinding beneath my boots. The beam of my flashlight cutting through the darkness.
In the end, I went slightly beyond the bridge to a row a large, round haybales that lined the road. I can only guess that local farmers and ranchers used the abandoned road to store their extra hay. For now, it would make a great bed. I ate a second dinner and climbed up top with my sleeping bag and my rucksack as a pillow. Besides the rustling of what I hoped wasn't a skunk in the hedge next to me, the night passed uneventfully. And far from any major city, the stars were incredible. I don't think I make enough opportunities to stargaze. It's good for the soul.
I woke up at 4am damp and covered in dew. I should have used my bivvy sack!
...sees much and knows much