Rolling foothills eventually rose up and greeted the horizon in lines of thick forest of oak and pine. In the lead, my uncle turned off the highway and within minutes the car began to vibrate violently as he continued along washboard dirt roads. And as the forest thickened, it occurred to me that there were no sign of humans, and there were no cars, or houses, or planes.
Meandering, we weaved the pothole-scarred path until we finally arrived at a dispersed camping site. I exited the car first and stretched, taking in a deep breath of the fresh air. The smell was wondering, something like pine with subtle wildflower, which seemed to intertwine with a distinct musty scent of decomposing leaves and rotting wood. I stared up at the trees soaring up from the earth. They brushed the blue sky with their rustling leaves, now bright green and vibrant with the coming of spring. The songbirds were singing and the squirrels were chasing each other over moss covered tree trunks. The ground was covered in a bed of orange pine needle, with fallen pinecones and the faint scattering of animal tracks.
I hiked through the old growth until I came across a rocky crag. Carefully, I climbed the small peak until I reached the top. A most impressive sight revealed itself as mountain foothills rolled on as far as my eye could see. Like great gouges cut from the earth, each rolling peak appeared as slivers, fading from shadow to gentle fog. I took a seat on a large boulder and simply watched the eagles and hawks soar overhead and out over the wide expanse. I only wish I had thought to bring my guitar up with me.
After awhile, I made my way back to camp just in time for dinner. A young fire danced in the circle, made up of twigs and kindling. We joked around the fire and told stories as we roasted hot dogs, brats, then s’mores. Afterwards, we built up the fire as the sun hid below the horizon. I could only imagine the view at the peak, and though hard about splitting from the group, but once my step dad pulled out my acoustic guitar, the mood of the group turned peaceful and quiet. And we listened as he flowed so smoothly over the strings.
But the stars had come out to join us, almost as if to hear the sound of our music, the tune of our hearts and minds, and the words of our cries. Emotion soon filled our tiny voices, because we knew we were singing for more than ourselves. With his final strum, and the last flicker of the smoldering fire, we were roused from our reverie. Rising, we each smiled, and blushed a bit, then hugged each other before calling it a night. It was such a fine night around the fire with family and music, and the stars.
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Story written & Photographs by © Brandon Scott / Eye & Pen