Friday, October 12, 2007

Rainbow Family

Back ten or so years ago, I spent some time around the remains of a Rainbow Family camp site. For those unfamiliar with the Rainbow Family, follow the link or know that they are a determinedly un-organized hippie group that coalesce every so often in a stretch of National Forest to smoke dope, pound drums, commune with nature, pray for peace, celebrate, and generally do whatever it is they do. I don't have any sympathy (nor use, in the abstract) for hippies, the term conjures the adjectives "smelly", "impractical" and "annoying" to mind. I'm too young to recall exposure to the real thing, but had the dubious pleasure of seeing plenty of latter day wannabes while in college and listen to way too many of the more aged variety that had found their way into academia. Nonetheless, I have less than no beef with the Rainbow Family based upon my limited exposure to their ways. Here's why:

The summer I observed the effect of the Rainbow Family, I had suggested to my Uncle, Cousin, Father, and Grandfather that we put in to hunt a certain northern NM elk unit. We did, and drew. Before we'd even drawn, I had gone up there to look around a bit and scout out the country some. I'd found a nice little dead-end road that terminated next to a mesa with a stretch of unroaded country going up in three directions, perfect to camp and perhaps hunt in. In the interim, I heard about the RF and the gathering of up to a few thousand hippies and hippie wannabes, right in the National Forest we hoped to head. Later, I learned that they were in fact in the hunting unit we had draw for. Later still, in August, I headed up to check things out. Now, the very last thing any right thinking red-blooded hunter wants is ten thousand smelly people forming drum circles right where he hopes to camp. How very far would a drum circle drive off elk? Shudder to think of the effect of the patchouli and marijuana fumes. On my way in to scout, I actually passed th last couple of wildly painted decrepit Bluebird buses making their way out. I know, it's a cliche. Nonetheless, that's what they were and that's what I did. As I headed down smaller roads to the prospective camp, I started to get nervous- the roads were showing an awful lot of travel. Pounded to dust, in fact. The turn off to my little dead end road was just as bad, confirming my fear. Sure enough, what looked like a good camp to me looked like a good camp to them, too. In moderate dudgeon, I got out and looked around a bit. I found lots of trampled grass, much of it pressed down in circles from teepees or dances or who-knows. I found where sod had been cut for firepits and then replaced. I found rocks that had been moved, but scattered again. Getting interested, I swung wider and checked behind nearby trees and bushes- neither nose nor eye could detect cathole or casual tree-watering. The little creek running nearby even had cutthroats remaining in it. Dang! Two months later, I returned to the spot. We had decided to camp somewhere else, after all. Looking around, there was no sign at all that the area had been negatively impacted.

Contrast that with the aforementioned red-blooded, right-thinking elk-hunting population with which I identify. Head up into the public lands after an elk season and the road will be much easier to follow due to the glint of beer and soda cans tossed in the bar ditch. Note the camps along to roads, easy to identify by the trash left and the prominent fire rings. I've found water jugs, no doubt "left for the next guys", pieces of old carpet probably laid in front of trailers or in wall tents and nastified by wet weather, then abandoned, and countless bits of decaying critters that no one bothered to haul back into the brush of the coyotes and other scavengers. Hunters really need to do better. Assuming that my experience was not an anomaly, they shouldn't only do better for their own sake, or the sake of the forest, but if for neither of those reasons then just to avoid being shown up by a bunch of dope-smoking anarcho-whatevers.


Steve Bodio said...

That's hilarious-- and counter- intuitive!

mdmnm said...


Thanks! Also kind of sad. On the other hand, the Rainbow Family really was pretty impressive in terms of their low-impact skills!

native said...

Very inspiring story, I guess we all have bouts of pre-conceived prejudice occasionally.

Good lesson to be learned and I most certainly will not forget it!