Spring is upon us, myself and my son Levi joined along with Geraldine Chavez for a warm April weekend backpacking in the deep wilderness of Daniel Boone National Forest. Wild flowers were in full bloom and the streams are flowing freely and loud. Levi has spent the majority of his childhood in nature with me, he's grown to respect and adore this planet we all call home. Wilderness is essentially important.
This weekend was an amazing experience for us all, from spending lunchtime barefoot in a stream to making our way onto Auxier Ridge just before sunset. After picking our preferred site to setup camp, we all stripped our boots and socks off again to soak up the sunset on top of the sandstone mammoth sticking up out of the forest below. Levi made himself at home by building little stick houses for his action figures and snacking on veggie straws. I laid on the sandstone with nothing more than my dirty Patagonia baggies, enchanted by the panoramic view around us. A team of well fed Hawks lurked and circled the orange and pink sky, searching for dinner or maybe just enjoying this evening view like we were. Once the Sun finally drifted underneath the tree line, a breeze picked up and chilled our sun kissed skin. Stars covering twenty galaxies were overhead, Levi made his way into my lap and drifted quickly off to sleep after witnessing his first shooting star sighting (that was entirely special to us both). I rocked him gently in my slender arms cradled like I had all his five years prior, except now not as a baby but a young boy. A quickly growing boy at that. The next hour remained silent as we star gazed into a transcendental euphoric slumber spell. The tent was calling our name and we answered not long after.
Once morning came, I woke up to find Levi asleep deep in his sleeping bag. Never so peaceful until now. I peered out of the thick plastic viewing slots of the tent to see the weather conditions. The sun was out to the East and a wind was howling up and over the ridge, I slipped into my Danner's and grabbed my Canon AE-1 to lurk around before breakfast. After taking a slow stroll down the path (snapping a handful of photos along the way) I headed back to camp to get Levi up for the day. Just as I was walking up to our tent I heard him in there singing Neil Young's "Old Man" to himself while snacking on some pretzels and juice. I greeted him with a good morning and he excitedly put his boots on for me to lace them up. He and I were now headed to the ridge to sit and enjoy the morning view when we noticed a beautiful rainbow accompanying an oncoming rain shower. It was damn cold rain but it didn't stay around too long. Levi played around the ridge making friends with beetles and other little insects while I slowly broke down camp and packed our snacks for the hike back to the trailhead. Geraldine rested in her hammock for most of the morning until the rain revisited us. The hike back to the trailhead was peaceful, beautiful and eventually wet (rain showers the last mile). This wilderness isn't a bad place to raise a child in, I'm sure Levi could agree.
George Barnett, a Kentucky native that spends the better part of his days in the remote wilderness backpacking & roaming to find the next mountainside of inspiration. He & his son Levi Barnett have a untouchable relationship that only the tree's & lakes can comprehend. George searches for truth in conservation, the purpose of nature & it's inhabitants.