After spending almost every day of every week of this summer at home, we’ve been rather peripatetic this month.

Last weekend, Chris, Hugh, Malcolm and I lit out for a tiny hamlet in Virginia (Ian was still at his friend Freddy’s house in the Poconos).  Our mission:  to meet up with Chris’s friend Jamie from UVA,  Jamie’s wife Dolores, and their kids Ian and Noah.  We were booked to stay at Mutton Top, a cabin owned by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, on the top of a gorgeous, remote hill. 

The parking area was 8/10 mile from the actual cabin.  We carried all our gear up an extremely steep and incredibly bumpy gravel track.  It wasn’t easy, but it compensated for a couple of missed gym visits.  Here’s a photo of Hugh and Noah bringing two sleeping bags apiece, on a yoke made of hiking sticks.

On top of the world, our “real” lives fell away.   We hiked, we read, we played.  Three hang-gliders entertained us for so long that I finally gave up on waiting for them to descend, and went off to take a long summer’s nap.

Cooking, tidying up, and storing food so it wouldn’t attract bears became our most urgent tasks. 

As I’ve said before, one of my favorite things about camping is living with a drastic subset of my usual belongings.  Each time I rough it, I realize anew that I actually don’t need those 12 pairs of scissors I keep scattered around the house.   Ditto the 7 barrettes, 57 drinking glasses, 32 throw pillows, and billions of magazines.   All the objects designed to make our lives prettier and comfier - and supposedly easier –  actually turn us into slaves.  To our possessions.  It’s crazy.

I always come back home determined to weed out and minimize our mountains of stuff.  This time, it may actually happen.  That would be our permanent gift from the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Shenandoah National Park.

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