I was hiking in the Raven Cliffs Wilderness a couple years back with my girlfriend Deana and two friends. There was a sweet smell in the air characteristic of the north Georgia mountains in late summer after a rain shower—some perfect combination of the damp earth, old wildness, and the fragrance of native flora like galax and sweet birch.

We were about a mile or so into the trail, headed to a waterfall whose beauty I could only describe had I the language of bobcats and wild turkeys. I let Deana and our friends go ahead so I could step off the trail about ten feet into a rosebay rhododendron thicket to relieve myself.

“What a lovely day this is,” I remember thinking to myself as I went about my business—when suddenly I felt one of the most awful pains in one of the most awful places to feel such pain. I looked down and realized I was under attack by a flying legion of yellow jackets that I hadn’t so much pissed off as pissed on.

hornets

I frantically ran up the trail, stripping off my shirt in a futile effort to fight my attackers. The more I fought, the angrier they got. They were soon in my pants, so I stripped them off too. As I overtook Deana and her friends, I was wearing nothing but boxers and shoes.
I came up on a bend in the creek and dove in. Completely submerged, I looked to the surface of filtered light as perhaps would an otter, and rejoiced at the sight of my attackers’ retreat, flying back to repair what I had ruined of their home.

Thoreau once remarked that we can never have enough of nature. I would venture he was not peeing on a yellow jacket nest as he wrote those words. Even so, I would not change a bit of what happened. There are places in this world where man was simply not meant to relieve himself.

—Christopher Martin, Acworth, Ga.