Modern Ozark Camping, Mincy, Missouri

Camping in the Hills

by Joshua Heston

Wind whistles through the leaves above. Coyotes call to one another on a nearby ridge. The sky glows black with a million stars. Low embers burn down, the last of the campfire. You snuggle a bit deeper into your sleeping bag, wood smoke a sweet smell on the air.

It is a quiet endeavor. Cheap too. For the cost of an inexpensive tent — and the time it takes to round up a Dutch oven, some cheap pots and pans, a box of matches, and a few other essentials, you can drive away from the city and into the seemingly immediate wilderness — and the world changes.

Perhaps it is just perception brought about by modern man — a fantasy of getting away from it all, relying upon one’s own two hands and mind in order to survive. But whatever the call, the need to get into the hills and away from the world’s — and media’s — inundating bustle is powerful.

Back to nature. Back to the elements. Wind. Water. Fire. Earth. Is it a spiritual thing? The smell of meat roasted over the open fire? Elemental. The penetrating dark of the sky? A sense of the universe searching the very soul.

If done properly, camping is more than a simple vacation from schedule and desktop computer. It is a moment in time when the artifice of society is stripped away, leaving soul and sky and earth. But if you are truly camping properly, be sure to leave your cellphone turned off and packed away in the jeep!

Plate 1 The quiet camping areas of Drury-Mincy Conservation Area south of Kirbyville, Missouri, provide a respite from the hustle of modern life. August 25, 2011.

A classic red jeep, quintessential off-roading truck of the hills

Plate 2. A rugged and dusty red jeep serves as the quintessential off-road truck for offroad campers.

an oak leaf canopy

Plate 3. A canopy of whispering oak leaves serves as a living ceiling for the campers.

chinkapin oak

Natural Heritage

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