We used to go camping there most years when I was a boy. I used to wander up and down that cold little river. Used to dam up the 18-inch-deep water with smooth round stones...make a swimming pool three feet deep. Little fish would bite your toes.
I used to hike the trails. Sometimes head straight up the mountain. Hunt for quartz crystals. Yes, from up there, you look back down and see that the river glides through a narrow valley. No wonder nine inches of overnight rain funneled into a death trap.
At night, we'd drive a few miles down the gravel road to that lone weird grocery store. Like something from a David Lynch movie. From this time distance, I think I see all the colors inside that joint as being very rich and hallucinogenic. I remember the large horizontal freezer, full of strange ice cream bars and stuff. Frozen banana-flavored things. Other things, too.
Back at the campsite the next morning, that very unusual old guy. From Illinois or somewhere. He would come camping there every year. He was a full-throttle camper. Had it all down to a proper science. A fancy double Coleman stove (I think...or maybe I'm remembering in double-vision). He would cook up amazing breakfasts and let us eat some. There are people like him all over, still. People who are in the groove. Who have sussed it out. Found their place in the galaxy and are sticking straight to it. He might be fucking crazy, but you could tell he was free of all neuroses.
It was always hot at Camp Albert Pike. Until you stepped into that cold little river.