SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – October 2005

Wide Awake And Dreaming

The author sets out to camp in New York's Central Park--and winds up roused by matters of life and death.

by: Mark Levine


The Great Hill of Central Park is a meadow ringed by lavish hardwood trees and perched just above the traffic of Central Park West. When I arrived there, parkgoers were jogging, walking their dogs, and finishing picnics. I found a flat spot in the shade of an American elm and set up camp. Other tents were going up nearby and attracting curious looks from passersby. By dusk, the area was practically deserted, except for three-dozen campers and the half-dozen park rangers--one of them equipped with a handgun--who were our chaperones. We ate sandwiches and played some silly games. (During one, I was instructed to hold hands with BACKPACKER's editor-in-chief; a surreal moment in the annals of freelance journalism.) Fires are prohibited in Central Park, so there was a halfhearted attempt to make s'mores with dehydrated marshmallows. I drifted away. My thoughts were elsewhere. After dark I followed the group on a walk through the park's North Woods, a 90-acre forest bisected by a stream and five waterfalls. We were trying to hear owls. A ranger brought a stereo and played a CD of high-pitched owl calls. All we heard in response were sirens. We wandered back to our camp. I nearly tripped over a couple stretched out on a blanket in the dark. Otherwise, there was no one to be seen. Without people, the park felt vacant--not like wilderness, but like an eerily deserted city.

The campers zipped themselves into their tents and went to sleep. I wasn't tired. I roamed the park for a while, and passed a few dogwalkers. We stopped and eyed each other and moved past. I was tempted to go to Columbus Avenue for a beer. I listened to the wind in the trees. Nothing was happening--no intrigue, no mayhem, no quirkiness. It was just the park, and night. I sat on a bench watching the silhouettes of the tents on the field. When I turned my head I could see apartment buildings nearby. Before long, most of the lights in the windows went out.



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Blood in the streets of DC
Posted On: Jul 30, 2014
Submitted By: george of the j
Trailhead Register
TR: Cook Forest, Pennsylvania (7/27/14)
Posted On: Jul 30, 2014
Submitted By: Adirondackiteer

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions