At 12,000 feet, the air feels different on your cheeks.
It tenderly dances across them to cool the way-too-close sun.
And then you pull up your pants and return to the hiking trail.
Outdoor adventures can certainly place you in alien situations. Toilets, for example, rarely find themselves rooted above tree line, or even amidst the Evergreens down the slopes. (A “toilet” in this instance being a crude cylinder atop a pit.)
In the Rockies, however, I have seen a few outhouses beaming like gaseous icons just below mountain peaks. Occupants exit the rickety stalls shaking fanny packs into position once more. I laugh thinking about the park ranger who pulled the short straw one day and had to slog several miles only to build a cesspool — I bet they angrily christened it.
When that “luxury” isn’t there, you’ve got to freestyle: find seclusion, dig a hole and bury your treasure. My brother in Denver always packs a garden trowel for that very detour. There’s no other choice.
But that’s the appeal of the whole thing; you aren’t particularly looking for choices. You ditch city living for a far more elemental existence in which nature holds the reins. A wayward flow replaces an often-mechanical to-do list. Your thumbs might twitch without a cell-phone keypad — give them a walking stick to choke.
You’re certainly able to tote some comforts on your back (e.g. toilet paper), but the air is no longer at the mercy of a thermostat up-arrow and you forfeit a down comforter for a thin cocoon. You’ve got to leave your grill behind, too; we’re not talking about RV’s or drive-up campsites.
Yet, you don’t abandon the notion of a home completely. But while it is shelter, a tent doesn’t have much of a floor plan. It’s a one bedroom, no-kitchen, no-bath with a view. (You have to really like that view).