It was early morning. I stuffed a few changes of clothes, some camping supplies and plenty of water into a backpack and rolled up sleeping bag that is said to help a person withstand temperatures below freezing. I laced up my hiking boots, left another reminder of where I would be for the next couple of days for my mother on the counter and headed off up north with some friends to the half burning trees of Yosemite.
It was when night fell and looked up again to see the dazzling lights provided by the stars and the blood orange moon rising above the dark shadows of high mountain tops that I remembered how small I was and how easily life can end in such a beautiful place like this. Granted I was in a protected campsite at the basin of the mountains in the desert, but I was still sitting at the whims of Mother Nature, and anything could happen.
I thought about writers like Jack London and David Thoreau as I snaked around fallen trees along hiking trails. I could really see how so many have followed their footsteps and entered into the wild to find themselves, and that of course made it all the more upsetting to hear about the death of Jonathan Croom who had gone missing in Oregon after reading and becoming a fan of the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer depicting the fateful journey of Christopher Johnson McCandless.
Croom had with him another book, How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier, which he left in his SUV, and it sort of reminded me of the time I read the book, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, when I was younger and hoped that one day I would get the chance and the courage to venture off into the wilderness too.
I never went to the woods alone, or trekking off into the wild while leaving all of my possessions behind. I had heard the fate of Christopher McCandless who, in April 1992, walked into the wilderness of Alaska with little food and equipment and was found dead four months later weighing only 67 pounds. I figured that I could take a break from the real world every now and then for a few days to get a taste of the wild, and return to the world again refreshed with scenery which inspired other writers and adventurous people who ventured off into the wilderness before me.