Thursday, May 28, 2009
REAL MAN Camping at Persnickety Pika Lake
Above Photos include The kids "first mile" into the bush. Me n' Moonbeam at the waterfall. "The Archer" with a nice rainbow trout. "Artdog" cooking a pika - mmmmmm. Everyone asleep in the "man shelter".
Well, its finally happened. I actually went "Real Man Camping". I did this despite many reservations. When the day finally arrived I was quite exhausted from preparation. All food, supplies and sleeping gear had to be packed into back packs that each person could trek 4 miles into the untamed wilderness. This included a baby with her supplies. Initially, I had planned to bring a tent. "The Men" poo pooed this idea. I thought the one I recently found for $10 at a rummage sale must have been a sign from God. My husband informed me it was much too heavy. Again, my friend "Nurse Happy Sunny Day", (Moonbeams namesake), offered me a backpacking tent. This time I concealed having it until I felt terribly guilty. After all, this was "real man camping" and I feared my men would be quite disgusted with my trickery. In the end I confessed and was promised a structure to sleep under as part of a compromise.
My eldest son, "The Archer", who I am considering renaming "Haas", gallantly volunteered to pack the baby for me. He said he was the most fit and logical choice. He had thought about this alot and especially wanted this to be a good experience for me. If ever there was a time that he earned my admiration and respect it was certainly on this trip. Not only did he pack the baby in and out, but he carried all his own gear, a tarp and a huge pan for boiling water. The pack was so heavy, I could hardly lift it onto his back. To my amazement, he walked almost effortlessly and had to wait multiple times for some of us to catch up. Wow! In a day where many 17 year olds think of themselves only, this one was thinking about me and the good of the family.
We hiked along a laughing creek much of the way. We hiked along flooded foot trails. We hiked along rock slide areas. We hiked by still waters. In short, we hiked, we hiked, we hiked. Did I mention we hiked? By the time we arrived, I was ready for a rest despite my "tough female" act.
The men shortly went off to fish and find spring water for boiling. The women kept the fire going (and read). "Closet Boss" read 70+ pages of the story of the Indian "Ishi". She kept us informed of his exploits as the day progressed. It was windy and the men returned with the water and one fish. I was quite leery about drinking boiled spring water, though I concealed this fact.
Despite having sandwichs, hot dogs, s'mores, and brownie rations, some of our younger "men" decided they must take it upon themselves to hunt, prepare and cook a pika in a "jiffy pop popcorn" pan. I was again leery about partaking of the large rodent. In the event you do not know what a "pika" is, it is a large squeaky sounding rodent who lives in the rocks. They are thick in this area and live in colonies. They are cute, furry and fun to watch, though they do not appear to be overly appetizing. Thankfully, my son, The Archer, caught more fish as the evening progressed and everyone was again focused on eating fish rather than rodents.
The Men constructed a lean to type shelter between the fire and the lake. By then I was so exhausted I crawled into it and fell asleep not caring. Grizzly bears are known to be in this area and so our men kept a watchful eye. Just as darkness began to fall, they heard a horrible growling sound emerge. They jumped into action. They were quite disappointed to discover, seconds later, that it was only the sounds of me, loudly snoring.
That night I awoke many times. A hoot owl called mournfully all night long. A flying squirrel teased my son, The Archer, causing sleep to elude him. My husband had a bad dream about the campfire getting away. Others dreamed about bears. Me, I had nightmares about earthworms.
By morning, the boys found their way around the fire in the dirt. The girls huddled together in the shelter. It was a lovely morning and "Haas" caught many a fish before tearing down camp. My husband had masterminded a fairly decent trip. He enjoyed the quality time with our children. He and "Haas" were already talking about another. Again, I am leery, but I guess these things have their own way of working themselves out. I guess if you want to "Real Man Camp", go ahead and try it. If nothing else, you will have an incredible work out and your kids will have the memory of a lifetime.