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Thoughts on a quiet night in the woods.

First off…F’ing people don’t know how to read! There are literally burn ban signs everywhere. And what is burning all over the campgrounds in the Teanaway? Damn campfires of course. It even says no campfires in established pits. NO FIRES. Oh my shit. It’s bad enough we have lightning starting wildfires we don’t need fratadas that can’t read doing it too. There was a fire in Salmon La Sac….yesterday! From people who left it smoldering while illegally cutting trails…so can’t expect much rule following from people engaging in illegal activity already…but come on campers…srsly.

Anyway…sorry. I just walked the campground to see how full it was and if it was gonna get rowdy…the West Fork Campground up here in the Teanaway is a shit show. One of my favorite stretches of river but that campground fills with people who treat it like their college dorm room, or their moms house during a holiday stay…just fucking wrecked dude. So I won’t be staying there anymore this summer. I’ll return in the fall when it gets cold and weeds out the weak.

I’m in 29 Pines tonight. It’s further back and for a Friday its pretty scarce on the west end. I’ve got no neighbors and found a spot where I can hear the river from the tent. I’m also tucked back along the trees and can use the boat and rig as a block from people. Plus I need a shower…today was hot. So the privacy is nice.

I’ll fish in the morning before my trip in the afternoon. Now I’m enjoying some music, the sound of the river, and the light of my small backpacking lantern I’ve taken with me everywhere for years. It’s been my light on cold nights in the snow, bivy whacking on the side of mountains, hanging down over my hammock while reading Muir up at some small lake I forget the name of now. It’s lit river camps, tiny houses, nighttime fireside chats, and every night I’ve seen outside of four walls.

It’s a rugged little lantern. It’s smaller than my fist, the butane tank threaded to it is bigger than the actual lantern. It has a weathered metal cable that has a hook I’ve bent back and forth too many times. But it still hangs. The igniter still works after all these years and clicks in the rain, snow, wind, and everything in between. The globe is metal mesh…it casts a distinct checkered shadow. A glass globe would have broke years ago, the mesh is dented and it’s slightly lopsided from thousands of miles being stuffed into backpacks, boat bags, moving boxes, bins, and everything else I’ve used to haul my shit around. It’ll run for days on a small tank. It can light up the camp, or be just enough to read without struggling. It will ward off the fear of the dark, light up the night and keep critters wary, and it continues to be one of my favorite pieces of gear I own…a simple backpacking lantern.

I hear it click on and start up with that ‘whoosh‘ and hiss as it bursts to life blinding me, still to this day, every time I light it. It floods me with memories as it floods the night with light. I remember all the nights I’ve shared with others, the solo nights with just it’s light and the sound of the wild to keep me company. I can recall it all when I turn on my lantern. It makes me smile every time I click it on…it means I’m somewhere away from it all. Somewhere that isn’t where everyone else is. I’m in a place that needs just a faint light, where there are no plug ins, no roads sometimes, a place that no matter what…I know I want to be in. Even in the darkest of times, when I’ve been lost or lonely…it brings light and happiness with it.

A simple lantern…giving me a little joy. Sounds silly…but then again…it’s my lantern.

Good night anglers. I hope you have a little light in your life that brings you happiness.

Tamarack.

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