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How to Camp With Strangers

Figure 1: Former stranger and NW Rockhoud member, Timotheus, leading the way to First Creek.

I have only ever camped with total strangers once, so I boast only cursory observations in this instructional post on exactly how to go about camping with strangers.

Figure 2: A blue agate geode I found and extracted with the help of Theus at First Creek dig site.

First, you will need some strangers [Figure 1]. For this, I recommend leaving the apartment, house, or even looking up from this screen. I had to do all three (and many other things), on several different occasions (my entire life up to this point), until such an event as will be depicted here could be achieved (I had no idea what I was doing regarding any element of this adventure).

Next, you will need to interact with the stranger(s). Walking up to someone with the opener, "What are your dreams and deepest passions in life?" may be tempting, but I advise against its frivolent use. My surveying says the response is almost always a very laborious and pregnant silence.

Starting from a place of common interest is a good way to go (everyone has always told me this, in some cases in different languages, so this is just a human thing, apparently). If you go about it right, you might end up driving away from your camping excursion in a state of divine bliss with something new on your list of 'Have-Done's. Plus, there might be ice cream.

Camping with strangers was precisely what I did this past weekend, and it was down right phenomenal. This is that story.

When a total stranger asks you, "Are you pretty agile?" while leaning casually on a ginormous pickax, you may feel compelled to assume the worst.

Had this happened to me six months ago, my gut reaction would likely have been, "Dear god, I am about to be murdered and buried with that pickax, and I haven't even paid off my car."

The man, already grizzled from a morning of digging elsewhere, asked me this while we waited, alone, for his friend to return from their car. I believe in providing people with the space to define themselves, and so that is how I will describe my weekend mountain rock heroes: Timotheus was an adventurer and Nathan a farmer. Both were staggering in their expertise as to the geology of the region, and nothing other than gentlemen. Theus's dog loafed happily in his wake around the trail while we waited [Figure 3]. There was no trail, actually, we happened to be following coordinates from his GPS along a ridge of Red Top Mountain.

Figure 3: Pull-off on the trail up to Red Top Mountain Trail.

Thankfully, this was not six months ago, and my gut surprised even the other self-aware body parts that compose me. I tried to smile without being smug, and said, "Yea, I'm pretty agile; think I'll be fine." I beat down my Kaufman-clan impulse to wink, because who winks at a stranger holding a dirt-caked weapon, in the middle of the forest?

Theus nodded, somewhat to himself, and said, "Good, because this is gonna require some agility." Half turning back to me, he added, "and a lot of digging."

"Thank god," I thought. I knew I had come to the right place [Figure 2].