Last weekend my family spent Easter camping beside the Little Styx River at New England National Park, east of Armidale. Kylie and I pitched a tent in the same campground during the same long weekend when we were first married 15 years ago. I look back on that trip as one of the defining moments of our life together, so it was with a sense of anticipation that we passed by our planned campsite in another national park, and decided to share our special place with the kids (and lots of grey nomads, who kindly cut us some firewood with their chainsaws!).
The weather was far from ideal. It started raining soon after we pitched the tent, and kept raining for most of the time we were there. Being almost 1400m above sea level, it was also a bit fresh. The temperature ranged from about 6 degrees overnight, to 10 or 11 during the day. A breeze on the third day made it feel even colder. But we rugged up, got the fire going when the rain eased, splashed about in the river and soaked up the highland atmosphere. The kids had a ball. And so did I.
In my head the whole time was a couple of lines from the old Scots-American conservationist John Muir. A tragic for the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, Muir was instrumental in establishing Yosemite National Park, a landscape containing some of the most picturesque scenery in the world.
A frequent visitor to Yosemite until the day he died, Muir wrote “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees”, and in a letter to to his sister written in 1873, “The mountains are calling, and I must go”.
Suffice to say, I heard the call, went, got more than my share of good tidings, and despite the weather, nature’s peace.