Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I Don't Need No More Tent Stakes

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The first time I came across a buried-to-the-hilt one in my site, I thought "Sweet! I feel bad for the guy who didn't grab it when he broke camp, but I can always use a spare." And I pocketed the thing.

When I camp in JTree it gets windy, sometimes apocalyptically so, and it's every guy(wire) for himself. Unless you want you to find your tent blown past the wash, saved only by an armored cholla, you'd tether your tent at every point, too.

But back to my story....The next time I found a stake, at the same camp place(Camp Slime in the Gunks), I though "What's wrong with people? ADDH has gotten way out of control...."

This weekend, my favorite spot was taken. So was my second choice. Hopeing there was something behnd Door Number Three, I gazed over, behind the ranger cabin, and saw....emptiness. Lugging my gear through the wooded lot, stepping carefully over the moss growths and jumping a log-come-gate at the entrance of the site, I began to unstuff my tent.

If you've ever been in Slime, you know that finding flat ground is an adventure; the whole place slopes gradually downhill and is actually a talus field glazed with a few millenium's worth of soil. Poke around, just a few inches below ground level, and you come to rocks. (Sung to the tune of the old Armour Hot Dog ditty "Big rocks, little rocks, lots and lots of rocks! Flat rocks, sickening rocks, wish a lifelong pox on rocks....). It's not like you can plane some space; you're pretty much stuck with what is available.

So....I locate "the flat space"(which is actually my prime requirement in a Camp Slime *favorite site*) and lay down the groundcloth. "What's this?" I query, catching a glint of shining silver in the light.. Disappointed, I see it's just another tent stake. But I pull it up anyway. Even though, in the last month alone, I have garnered enough new nails at Slime that I can now come to the aid of my neighbors in a windstorm, there comes a point where weight becomes a consideration..... well, at least if you're taking the alpinist's attitude..... I hate to waste. So I set the stake aside, and will holster it when I stow my tent nail quicker.

Going about my business, I notice more buried stakes. Not just the one. Not even two or three. There is a FULL SET of tent stakes at this site.

It's come to the point where I'm beginning to think there are as many nails in the ground at Slime as there are rocks!

But....back to my story.

I can only imagine how this whole tent's worth of pins came about....Some guy maybe brought his new Big City little cutie along for a weekend in the great outdoors, her first time in the woods(...awwwww). She might have pretended she liked it, and even offered to help with camp life work. But by weekend's demise, she had had enough. Especially after finding out a "day at the incredible Gunks; I'll teach you to climb. It's awesome!" consisted of intermittent scenes of terror(while she went up to clean gear on his routes) and belay slave(as she held the rope for his leads or, more likely, TR hangfests).

And so, when Johnny directed Mai Ling to "pack up the tent, sweetie" as they broke camp....passive-aggressiveness took hold.

That's the only reason I can come up with for someone to leave behind a full set of (brand new, by the way) stakes. Imagining the sweet revenge, as John goes to set up camp next time and finds no way to batten down the hatches, she smiles at him and performs as directed....
.Okay...there are plenty of other scenarios. But I am out of time. This is supposed to be just a bit on a "Clean up your litter folks!" campaign.

Camp Slime is a HIGHLY trafficked camp space, and each week I find garbage all overe the place. There's a pair of shit-filled(I assume) sweatpants stuck in the craw of a downed tree's rootball at Happie's(that's me) FAVORITE site(I bring a trash bag with me and will remove them, next time I get that spot(disgust). There are
always beer caps and cig butts littering at least one campsite floor.

In my second choice spot, one weekend I found a used tea bag. Gross enough, on it's own. But then, like the family of tent stakes, I saw another. And another and still another. At least 5 used tea bags littered an area less than 20 square feet. The same site, strewn with peanut shells. Like a chain-store bar that used the trash heep as a drawing point. Tea bags and peanut shells aren't going to fully biodegrade in a week, asswipe. Do you think the person who takes the place after you exit wants to deal with your filth?

And then, of course.....There's the toothpaste spit. At the edge of every campsite, lies almost a little white picket fence-like border. I remember the first time I camped with adults and saw someone brush their teeth and spit at camp's edge. It was in JTree, and I nearly threw up. Right there in the desert bushes. (The tooshpaste spit, I mean.) It doesn't rain much in San Bernadino county, and when it does it's not enough to wash away the residue. That toothspaste scree has a half-life of....I dunno? A year, you think?

Here's a tip, and I hope you're not offended if you're a spitter - Use whatever receptacle you will have for camp trash as a spitoon. Brush your teeth and spit into the little bag. Starting with an economic amount of paste, rather than Super-Sizing it, also reduces the factor.

I could go on...but I already have gone on long enough. I have enough tent stakes folks, and I try to limit what trash I make when I camp. Don't need no more pins, and I don't like cleaning up your crap!

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