Camping on Mount Olympus

I've been so head-over-heels busy since I got back from camping, I didn't get a chance to make an entry about camping.

My friends Joset, Henry, Lua and I went camping on Mount Olympus from Monday to Wednesday this week. All four of us had been camping there before- with family, friends, school trips etc.- but we'd not been for years. We rented a vehicle in the east of Olympus, and Lua drove us up to where the road ends and the path begins. Then, carrying our belongings with us, we began to walk around and up Olympus.

You can't climb so high up Olympus, or the air gets too thin, the weather too poor and there are no trees for cover, but we climbed to just above the treeline, and there we pitched our tent. If you get a permit ahead of time, they'll let you pitch your tent anywhere there is space to do so, as long as you carry a marker so they know where you are.

Other than that marker, we were alone. All the way up and while we were staying up there, we were the only people in the world. Well, you could see Olympus a bit- the outskirts glistening during the day and sparkling at night- and you could see other towns and settlements, hazy on the horizon and little dots of light when it got dark, but they were so far away they looked unimportant. Nothing intruded upon our little corner of the world. Mars was spread out below us, fresh and wide, and from up this high when the clouds were high, we could see the curve of the planet.

Being above everything like this gives you such perspective, and we, always the philosophical types, were suddenly full of ideas and reminiscences. I'd told them about my leaving, of course, and we speculated upon the launch, traveling the months between here and Earth, what it must have been like for those first travelers. We didn't really talk about Earth much though (I just realised), I suppose it was because we were so close to Mars at that point, tiny little creatures clinging to the side of a mountain so high it touched the top of the atmosphere.

Mount Olympus gets its name from the Earth mountain, much, much smaller than our Olympus, where the gods of the Ancient Greek Culture were said to live. I wonder what the Greeks would have said, seeing this Mount Olympus. It's true that being on this mountain gives you such a sense of euphoria (perhaps the lightheadedness?) that it's easy to imagine that just a few more kilometres up hill there are gods having a camping trip of their own. What does that make us, I wonder?

We talked, and walked, and took photos, and hid from the rain, and cooked over an open fire; I felt a bit like those Survivors who must have been a bit like we were, only unimaginably more so, being so far away from home and everything they knew.

And when it was time to go back down the slope, we packed up everything so completely that when I turned to look back at the spot where we had stayed, there was no trace of anything left behind, except perhaps slightly flattened grass where the tent had stood. Joset must have seen me looking and said, "almost makes you wonder if we were here at all."

Well, when I was lying in my sleeping bag, my friends fallen asleep but me kept awake but the rain and the thought of leaving the whole planet so soon, I was feeling that flattened grass and the little stones that we didn't clear away in my back. I was pressing myself against them, as if I could meld into them a bit, or as if they could meld into me.

I think perhaps I'm more apprehensive about leaving this planet than I thought. Next time I post I'll be at Opportunity Bay.

Your Little Bit of Mars,


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