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


I crawled into my tent. I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about Victoria. It was good to have spent time with her friends and family in the morning, but it was better to be alone at night with my thoughts of her. I was glad to be outside. I wanted nothing between me and the night. I knew that I could just as easily be steeped in my ponderousness at home, a few miles away. But it wouldn't be the same. I wanted some of the clarity, some of the direct connection with night that tends to be obscured by the comforts of one's own bed. I watched one of the rangers patrolling the campground, talking quietly into his cell phone. I heard helicopters hovering low overhead. I lay atop my sleeping bag and settled into the night.

I couldn't help but be struck by the oddness of what I was doing--pretending to be on a camping trip--and the further oddness of having no desire to be doing anything else. It occurred to me then that merely sleeping, or trying to sleep, may be our most undervalued outdoor activity--if sleeping can be considered an activity at all. Sleeping, to my mind, is a more primal act of intimacy with the outdoors than hiking, climbing, paddling, even hunting. It is what separates the indoors-person from the outdoorsperson. It requires no expertise, nothing but a commitment to being out there, bedded against the dirt. It is a temporary return to the elements from which we usually take such extravagant means to shelter ourselves. When we sleep in the woods, we are just one more nesting animal whose rhythms are dictated by the rise and fall of the sun. We're accustomed to thinking of outdoor adventure in terms of daylight possibilities: the mileage we gain, the vista to which we ascend, the pristine stream we reach. Night in the unlit reaches is about negation. We're not going anywhere. There's nothing to see. We've arrived, and that's enough. Soon, if our exhaustion catches up with us, there's the blissful emptying-out of sleep.



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

Southern
SEC! SEC! SEC!
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: CajunHiker
Trailhead Register
New random photo thread.
Posted On: Sep 01, 2014
Submitted By: Echo

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