Environment, Nature, Society

Chris Down from the Mountains

Some long time ago, Chris spent a month out of contact with the world most of us move in: The urban world.  Instead, he camped in the high wilderness, isolated by mountains.

What was that like? He told me once.

Or, rather, he told me what it was like to return.  It seemed the city assaulted him, he said.  He arrived in the evening, and everything seemed out of whack, out of tune.  The headlamps of cars were too steady and bright.  The orange streetlights were surreal.  The noises unearthly.

And the smells?  The pungent smell of burning petroleum dominated everything, he said.  It clung to the air, hinting of suffocation, no matter which way he turned.

Now, I’ve never stayed an entire month in the wilderness, but after just a few days camping out,  I’ve noticed many of the curious changes Chris spoke about — albeit in milder forms.  As near as I can figure it out, our senses are overwhelmed in an urban environment and respond by shutting down to an extent.  After some time in the wilderness, however, they become sharper and more acute.  Consequently, when we return to the city, our senses are for a while almost painfully sensitive.  At least, that seems to me part of it.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

I wonder if there might be other ways in which we experience things differently after a long time in the wilderness?

1 thought on “Chris Down from the Mountains”

  1. I’ve been lucky enough to spend most of my life living in a very rural setting. Whenever I am in a city I feel the concrete closing in. I think people walk, act and look different in cities. I find it oppressive.
    I often go for long spells here without seeing anyone other than my family. I love it. I think people walk taller and lighter in open space. We’re not a species designed for cages.

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