Thursday, August 20, 2009
More "Real Man Camping" at Persnickety Pika Lake
Just when you thought i might not be quite "all there", i go and do something to confirm your suspicions. Yes, as you may have guessed by the title, I went backpacking again with my entire family many miles into the wilderness with nothing but what we could carry! As you may imagine, there are many adventures to tell! In my defense, it was my 18 year olds birthday wish (back in June) for our family to go again. I guess if you've got an 18 year old who wants his family to go camping with him, then by golly, the family had better go!
On Monday, "The Archer" and "Art Dog" headed for the hills. I got home from town to discover that they wanted to "survive" out there for 2 days. On Tuesday, we were supposed to join them. I had initially said that I was going to hike out with "Sock Fashion Expert" that day, but unfortunately, we didn't get started till noon. Bad idea. The hike in was uneventful except for me sweating profusely at every last agonizing step, ok it wasn't quite that bad. I did sweat and it did challenge me. Lucky for me, my husband traded packs with me prior to the start of the hike. That meant he packed Moonbeam in and I packed his stuff.
Upon arrival, our boys told us hairy tales of a pack rat coming into their camp and chewing on Archers fishing rod. As he was cleaning up another mess he found, he suddenly heard a bear "woofing" at them at 3am. They eventually had to send some warning shots into the air and shine their light around yelling to get it to leave. I was relieved that I had spent a sufficient time praying for them that night!
I was also somewhat surprised to find that our son Artdog had worn size 10 men's French Military boots out there! We couldn't stop laughing much to his displeasure. "They're supportive" he insisted. Moonbeam went to nap and we all enjoyed the beautiful day. When Moonbeam woke up, she preceded to the lake. I walked her around some, but she seemed determined to experience the grassy mud, so I let her. Unfortunately, Catman also decided to experience the grassy mud. Somewhere in there, he inadvertently rolled in old fish guts or animal poop. Nobody realized it until much later.
By the time it was time for my daughter and I to hike out, I just couldn't do it. The boys all wanted us to stay. Sock Fashion Expert kept a stiff upper lip (kudos to her) and we ended up staying. It would have been pretty tough to put all those miles in packing Moonbeam that soon anyway. We really weren't all that prepared to stay, but the boys loaned us some of their extra stuff and we improvised.
Around the campfire that night, we all smelled something bad. At first Moonbeam was accused, but later vindicated. By and by, as the smell passed from place to place, we were alerted to its origin..... Catman! It was too late and cold to wash him up in the lake. One couldn't stand down wind from the boy for long! To make matters worse, despite my reminding him no less than three times, he forgot to bring his jacket.
As the night progressed, the boys snuggled down next to me. Of course, I had to keep Catman warm despite his putrid aroma. On the bright side, none of my boys want to give me much affection on the average day. This presented me with an unforgettable cuddling opportunity which pleased me to no end. My husband had promised to help keep me warm, but later confessed that he couldn't take the smell. He said Catman had a smell "only a mother could love".
Despite my husband not keeping me warm, he was the hero of the night. He awakened in the middle of the night seeing an extra large rodent running toward our huddled bunch. He knew that I wouldn't take it well if it reached us and so in a selfless act of barbaric heroism, he stopped it with his bare hands, a board and a rock.
Half way through the night, the boys had all moved away toward the fire. I found myself a "cuddle rock" from the fire pit which actually kept me quite warm. Moonbeam was sweating, so I was glad about that. All in all, my lack of preparation and spontaneity didn't cost us much grief. Sock Fashion Expert also did admirably well.
One other highlight of the trip was how much we actually were able to live off of the land. The boys gorged on an abundance of fish. Raspberries, thimble berries, and Oregon grapes along with a host of other berries were thick every where along the trail. We made a wonderful raspberry and raspberry leaf tea with water that the boys also collected from a near by spring. I was impressed that this time, the water they boiled was well filtered and didn't taste like smoke.
The boys didn't want to leave at all. Catman didn't want to leave either. He not only stunk terribly, but his pants were full of holes, his socks burnt up in the fire by accident, and his shoes melted. That kid had a one way ticket to the bath tub and he knew it! By the time all was said and done, we were all sad to leave. I just had to jump into the lake one last time before hiking out. It was so refreshing. Upon arriving home after the long hike, the children sprawled out everywhere and my husband and I enjoyed a nice peaceful nap.