May 22, 2007
At a local mutual support meeting a couple of weeks ago, we did the round robin bit where we each explained “what we do”. My mention of this blog caused a bit of confusion. “You write about trespassing?” “Illegal camping?” So I decided to explain what Guerrilla Camping is.
Guerrilla Camping is simply camping where you aren’t supposed to. The term is in vogue with cross country cyclists, while distance hikers seem to prefer the term stealth camping. Either way, it is an option that allows a more direct experience of the wilds we find ourselves retreating to. It is also an option forced upon the increasing numbers of people who set out to bike or walk incredibly long distances.
The act of guerrilla camping comes with great responsibility. As you are often camping in pristine environs, it is your duty to assure that when you leave, no trace is left of your presence. No burn scars from cook fires, no mounds from cat holes, to trash and only the flattened grass gently rising for a day after you depart to hint at the one time presence of your tent or sleeping bag.
I adopted the practice in the mid ninties when I spent my long weekends hitchhiking and walking throughout the deep south. I discovered that the best nights in towns were spent camped out with the resident street artists and hobos who knew the back sides of the cities. I found that camping in a hidden corner of some farm’s grain field was always quieter than that developed campsites on national forests, lacking the throngs of RV driving loudmouths who must live in war zones to consider a night in the woods with a generator, camped out next to a dozen others with generators to be relaxing.
To me, the act of guerrilla camping is one of empowerment. Especially when on foot. Increasingly today, there are places that are legally unreachable on foot, boxed off by no pedestrian signs, freeways, no-trespassing signs and other imaginary lines. The first time you walk someplace distant, without a trail, without an authorized path, you realize how much we have forgotten about our land and about ourselves. Weather you are camping in a hidden clearing in a national forest hoping to avoid the rangers, or camping behind an abandoned paper mill in a half forgotten boomtown hoping to avoid the sheriff, guerrilla camping shows you that the world is not the place of ownership and fences we believe it is. Going guerrilla teaches you that camping is what you can get away with.
May 15, 2007
I’ve recently been published in the journal 20 Dissidents, copies are located at the above link.
Also, if you enjoy what you read here, click the ads. At worst, you waste a second looking at how to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, at best, you help them. Either way, I get a dime and get to find out if adsense is working. It hasn’t been so easy to help so many people since I wrote Nancy Peolsi’s phone number in a bathroom stall then set fire to the impeachment circus bigtop.
Thanks again everybody for the generous support. 4th of July invitations are coming soon. If you never got a postcard or letter from me, I probably got yours back in the mail, please send me your address again.
May 15, 2007
After sundown, the silence is dense and heavy. The weight of the star filled sky comes down on the cabin like a lead shroud, and the daytime sounds of lizards, frantic tow-truck bugs and overhead hawks fade away, leaving nothing but the vague hints of distant animals. On moonless nights the silence is accompanied by an impenetrable darkness. Huddled around the campfire in our front yard we see nothing.
“Then pull this forward… and yank…”
“Then just slide the choke back to here..”
As the generator steadied into a consistent roar,
We spent a long time living in a tent with solar charged batteries providing our light though small LED headlamps, and standing there in front of the cabin, bathed in the bleach white glow of the lamp I was struck by how far we had come. The campfire, only fifteen feet away seemed ancient and the shattered silence, obnoxious in its volume, spoke of futures of civilization, of finished walls and conveniences.
We barbequed burgers on a cheap grill as I sautéed mushrooms on our faithful campstove. We chased the burgers down with beer, joking about how we no longer needed to go to town for cold beer and hot burgers.
“How far have we surpassed car camping?” I laughed, looking sideways at our bags sitting in the middle of the shop, bags that less than a year ago had carried our lives’ possessions to the spot where we now stood, bathed for the first time in artificial light, surrounded by the sparking promise of electricity.
Ere… ere… ere… ere…er….
Cast back into darkness the forest was alive. Moths battered themselves against our battery powered lanterns, forcing me to ponder what Darwinian trick had lured their kind to ancient lights; provided only by fire assuring a scorching and immediate death to their ancestors. Instead, their shadows played at the edges of the tent, alluding to monstrous fifteen pound moths, with foot long wingspans.
Our noise, our light and our cooking changed the place subtly, and that night we would listen to moths bat gently against the tent, as packrats looted our trash can.
Civilization had come to the mountain.
May 8, 2007
haven’t blogged in a while. At first, this was due to a severe lack of internet. But now, I have a raging 3mbs connection, and I’m still not blogging much. Oh, I’m online, jumping around the permaculture and primitivism forums, but I haven’t had much to blog about, since most of the news seems remote and absurd from where I’m standing. Monday morning, I awoke to the first traces of sun rippling across the top of our tent and stepped out to watch the first slow sunrise on our property. The bugs, hawks and snakes were still asleep and a few hyperactive alligator lizards darted along the dirt hunting ants. Next to the tent, the grass was matted and spiraled, looking to me like a deer bed. I doubt we had a deer sleeping two feet away from the tent, but up there, anything seems possible.
Not wanting to wake my fiance, I spent an hour or so pulling out coyote brush and making plans to clear the area housing the animal pens. The prior residents left the place a fabulous disaster, with trash ranging from a Volkswagen clutch to three camper shells in various states of dissolution. I flipped one camper shell onto it’s side, revealing an intricate network of tunnels dug out by carpenter ants, along with two ringneck snakes and a garter snake. The ringnecks are gorgeous snakes, dark emerald green with a crimson stomach and a slender serpentine grace. Talking to neighbors up on the hill, they are apparently quite rare, though my boss has video shot at our property of three of them in an intricate intertwined mating.
So far, I have done lots of road clearing and trimming. In two months, the well goes in. Yesterday, we got our first generator a 4500 watt screamer that will serve to run our tools as I finish reinforcing the foundation. I’ve sorted out maps, resources, and a list of likely materials I will need to start getting the cabin up to modern living standards.
Coming down the hill, Venezuela has privatized the last of its oil fields, bush is vetoing the war spending bill, more static is coming up about the Virginia shootings and the overpass in San Francisco is likely to suffer delays to rebuilding caused by steel shortages. I shrug. None of it seems to effect me anymore. It’s not laziness of apathy, more a creeping sense of “I told you so.” that plays on my conscience. I tried to change the world, now I try to make my own; far enough down a dirt road that none of this will bother me, though the only broadcast entertainment that comes in clearly at the cabin is NPR. The sea level would have to rise about 2000 feet to give me beachfront property, the bees, wasps and butterflies are voluminous and the other wild animals leave hints to their presence, bear scat, a deer antler, the soft gobble of wild turkeys shaking through the trees. No, politics is someone else’s game now. I have to worry about water, power and heat before winter arrives. Worrying about winter before summer officially arrives gives you a sense of perspective you seldom have living in the city. I don’t have to worry about heating bills, just limbing trees to stop forest fires and getting this old woodstove fixed up. I don’t have to worry about a facist crackdown, the paddywagon would never make it down my road, and if it did, I doubt it would make it past my neighbors.
No, there is nothing for me to be angry about anymore. I know the world has problems, and I might still try to fix them, but for now, they are yours. I’ve got my own. Simpler, easier to fix, easy to understand, hard to figure out why we left such simple living behind, no matter how hard the work may be.
Anyways, I have to go, I have design work to do before heading back up the mountain and the soundtrack I’m working on is about rendered and therefore ready to send. Yeah, some mountain man. 😉