Opinion: Rolling under the stars
The Milky Way above camp last week. (Chris Peterson photo)
Editor | October 11, 2023 2:00 AM
So on Saturday we didn’t have much time, so the boy and I went out into the Badger Two Medicine area south of Glacier National Park.
The nice thing about camping in the National Forests is that you don’t need a permit like you do in Glacier. Of course, you don’t get any amenities, either, like a nice flat campsite, an easy food hanging pole and a pit toilet.
The pit toilet apparently isn’t an amenity for some folks. The last time I camped in a Glacier Park campground the guy who was next to me took it upon himself to take a poop in the woods about 30 yards from my campsite.
How do I know this? Let’s just say I had a good view of the moon, and I’m not talking about a celestial body.
Thing is, Glacier had just put in a brand new pit toilet at the site. Some older pit toilets, admittedly, can smell exceedingly rank, but this one was great, so I have no idea why this guy opted for the woods. I mean, if you’re going to opt for the woods, why not walk the extra 50-60 yards or so and poop well outside of camp?
I never saw the guy, except for his backside. We scrammed shortly thereafter.
But I digress. Like I said, on Saturday, we got a late start and headed into Badger. We filled every water bottle we had and the headed up a nice, grassy slope about four miles down the trail.
From the bottom, it looked like a nice flat spot on top. But once we got up there, there were a lot of downed trees. The actual summit wasn’t all that scenic and plus, it was dirt, with no grass and I didn’t want to camp in the dirt.
So I opted for a couple of spots just below the top. The boy’s site was behind a big rock and was nice and flat. My spot was about 75 feet away on a little ledge. The rest of the hill was rather steep.
So we set up camp, found a good tree to hang our food, made a very small campfire and ate dinner. It was, perhaps, one of the most pleasant camps we’ve had all season, namely because there were no bugs.
Night came quickly and the stars filled the skies, with the Milky Way straight overhead. The boy had been fighting a cold, so he went to bed early but I stayed up and took photos of the stars under a moonless night.
I hit the hay about 9 p.m. and woke with a start at 1 a.m. in the throes of a dream. The dream was rather mundane. I was leafing through a magazine because a friend of mine was in it and I was looking for his picture, but was having a hard time finding it.
But when I awoke, everything was awry. I had rolled off the ledge and the tent went with me. The floor was the roof and the roof was the floor. I struggled out of my twisted sleeping bag, undid the zipper and crawled like a rat under the door to get out of the tent. I then went about setting the tent back up straight, but pointed it downhill rather than risk rolling off the ledge again.
It wasn’t a comfortable arrangement, but what does one expect at 1 a.m.? At least it wasn’t raining. The Milky Way had now shifted to the north and the Big Dipper was spilling its contents over the grassy hills.
A light breeze blew as I crawled back into the tent as another dream approached…