So, I didn't sleep well the whole night. Getting back to my roots was not all it was cracked up to be. It sounded much better in the Smoky Mountain National Park brochure. But as soon as the sun started opening up its eyes, so did the Scoutmaster. He was up early because he had a goal to make sure the camp fine didn't die out during the entire trip. (For the record... it didn't.) That meant early morning chopping of firewood.
I could hear the chopping off in the distance. Then it faded away. Not because he got farther away but more because I was finally starting to fall asleep. And just when the sheep started counting me... B-BAM!!!! If you don't know what B-BAM is, that's the sound of a LOG being dropped on the ground and rumbling the surrounding area (like the tent I was just sleeping in). I was able to brush that one off and attempted to go back to sleep when I heard... HACK! HACK! HACK! Of course, THAT'S the sound of a log being chopped into smaller pieces... near the tent That was also the sound of me getting up and getting my day going.
When I emerged from the tent I noticed that Scoutmaster wasn't using the hatchet to chop down the tree. I could only assume it was still being held tightly from what happened the night before. But I found out later that his weapon/tool of choice was a machete. (Quick analogy lesson: Machete is to the knife I had as 50" plasma HDTV is to the screen on my wireless phone.)
The machete was an AWESOME choice but it did bring back some deep rooted fears. The reason I don't get scared watching scary movies is because my mind can't wrap around the "impossible". When something just isn't REAL to me I don't get caught up in it (minus fantasy football and sci-fi (no problem believing sci-fi)). So when I was watching those Friday the 13th hacker/slasher films in the early 80s they didn't bother me. Even at a young age I knew for a fact that no one was REALLY strong enough to take a machete (Jason Voorhees weapon of choice) and literally dismember someone with one swing. That just wasn't possible! And the thought stayed in the realm of impossibility until I watched Scoutmaster chopping this TREE into firewood. NOW that movie is real to me and I will never be able to watch any of them again. I will be telling my therapist the same thing in our next session.
This is the day of nature as my title suggests. And one thing happens when a group of guys are void of women for at least 24 hours is that they start going primal. It's small at first and grows with each passing day there is no female presence. It starts with the chopping wood. Then it goes to the grunting (usually due to aches and pains depending on the age of the camper). Then it goes to the favorite area among men... the Gas of Passage. (It's kinda like a Rite of Passage only it smells a whole lot worse.) With that statement it is also noted that women pass gas as well. I know this for a fact. But I have never seen women pride themselves on their ability to clear out a room (or campsite) with a single blast. I have never heard of women naming their flatulence. I have also never seen a woman go over to another woman (or man for that matter) for the sole purpose of unloading butt bomb on them and then running away to keep from being collateral damage to their own explosion. I'm guessing that MOST of that (with a few exceptions) is distinctly male.
I don't want to downplay this ritual in any way, though. Apparently, (unbeknownst to me) it is a highly-celebrated tradition. It is also one that lasts the ENTIRE day. At one point I could have sworn two butts in our group were having a full-blown (pun intended) conversation with one another (complete with questions AND exclamations). I would also like to note that 2 of our butts were silent (mine being one of them). And it wasn't that my behind didn't want to join in the fun and put its 2 cents in... It was really that mine didn't have much to say. It would act like it wanted to join the conversation but then change its mind at the last minute. I found that very disturbing. I felt like Rudolph not being able to join in any of the reindeer games. Everyone else was just tooting away (and by everyone else I meant the Scoutmaster and the Rookie) and I was just a brass section outcast.
Part of the reason for my lack of organic, homegrown methane is that I made sure I cleared out my system before we headed down to the campsite. Why is that, you ask? (I know SOME of you are asking.) That is because the shortest time to get to nearest "bathroom" was 2.5 hours (longer for wireless - even longer for emergency help). And that is being very generous. When I was 17, "roughing it" was cool. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I don't particularly like the idea of dropping a deuce in the forest. And it's not that I wouldn't do it, it's just that I didn't want to if I didn't have to. (After explaining to my wife what you have to do when you use the bathroom in the wilderness (before and after) she has opted out of ANY and ALL camping trips that put us more than 10 minutes from the nearest potty.) That doesn't sound too manly but I have to draw the line somewhere.
But with all of that (olfactory disintegrating) auditory FUN going on, the morning was really set aside for important things. We had to setup our clothes on the makeshift clothes line to get the most of the 3 hours of direct sunlight we were going to get. Our clothes were soaked from the rain on the way down. We also had to finish getting enough firewood to last a few days. That took a bulk of the morning. (Another side note: It was really impressive watching the Scoutmaster and the Rookie cut into (and through) these really large trees with that machete. The Dr. and I used the hatchet and we weren't nearly as affective as they were with the military issue machete. But we managed and are better people for it... blisters and all.)
The clothes were on the line drying. We had plenty of firewood. It was time to explore the wilderness.
That is where we will begin Part 4 of this 5-Part experience.