pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

The Good Old Days...

Stolen from ohiblather:
POLL: canoe trips, camping trips

Have you been on any? Did you like the experience? What trip was your favourite?

ExCamper (me):

We hiked, camped in the Rockies and more accessible places, went to church camps all through the growing up years...

Once, we held a family reunion in the mountains -- 50 people, only two not tied by kinship or marriage (Yet)... the oldest was 50, the youngest turned 5 on the trip.

It was a great idea, well-planned, and all that. I came in my VW beetle with the entire back seat full of supplies. As we were driving to the meadow that was base came, the "free range" part of the area caused a few encounters... A Hereford bull stood crosswise in the trail, chewing and swishing. We sat and waited him out until he felt good and ready to ample along. He was BIGGER than we were, car and all.

The camp site was across a meadow picturesquely dotted with Herefords, who basically ignored the campers, but as one of my sisters said when my aunt hollered, "Come on across, they won't charge", "I was afraid they would give it to me for free."

What I hated was the 60 lb. back pack most of the adults carried that allowed supplies for two weeks for that many people... Even the four year old had a back pack (he was most popular -- he had the tp) We dug holes and buried for sanitation and to keep from attracting bears, etc.

We crossed a pass over 11,000 feet high, and I had a nose bleed that would not stop until I went 1,000 feet lower (then had to climb back up, but at least the back pack was already up there...)

I kept saying that with pack horses, it would have been ENJOYABLE. Some people who carried in basically food got to hike out with a smaller load, as 50 people eat a LOT of freeze dried food.

Everything was freeze dried, then rehydrated, except for the skinned squirrel. One of the young cousins got a lucky pot shot with a pellet gun at a squirrel early in the morning, so it was added to the stew later that night. We made "ice cream" for the birthday boy with tang, powdered milk, and snow from an unmelted bank the boys hiked up to and dug beneath the crust, then dashed back to camp with before it all melted...

Camp joke making the rounds that year: (Dehydrated water tablets: all you add is fresh water.)

When we got home, someone had put an old round tub, military spade with the head that folds up against the handle (for digging fox holes in wartime, I was told... and I was NOT sure if it was a joke, or not...) The blade part of the shovel was screwed into the "using" position, and stuck into the grass, with a roll of TP on the handle. "Welcome Home" with all the comforts... We lived in a housing development, and the passers-by all got a big kick out of it... but WE used shovels and bathed in creeks and lakes... sun dried.

At the end of the two weeks, it got easier -- it takes that long to get adjusted to the altitude. But by then, it's time to go home.

In later life, we returned with horses and had a much better time of it. What was a three day hike with huge back packs was a morning's walk on horse back... They spent the night in the corrals the area had been improved with, and we slept in a mini-winnie, which sounds like it was "fun", but it was August 15, and that is TOO LATE to be reliable... we got to try to haul back to a "real" road with a loaded four horse ON SNOW. It was a pretty spine tingling trip.

I've started using a chaise lounge (solid plastic frame) in the bed of the pick-up (generally surrounded by hay for the horses), and covered with a sheet in the summer in low areas (mosquito protection) or a down filled sleeping bag and liner in colder times. Once I set it up in a tent at one church overnight where I was a chaperon. Now, that was ideal, as the tent screen kept the bugs out, and the lounge was sure a lot more comfy than the air mattress or polly pad on the ground (that I could still sleep with when I was younger.)

How tired you are also affects where you can sleep. On the monster reunion trip, I have a shot of my sister in a hooded sweat shirt, gloves, sorrel hiking boots, and jeans, sleeping beside a creek at lunch break -- on a bed of boulders. It is a truly amazing photo. But we could all drop off anywhere, any time our legs did not have to keep moving, on that three day trip in. We went from 1000 ft. or so of normal elevation at home, to a base of 8,000-9,000 in the mountains, then hiked over a pass that was in excess of 11,000 ft. back to a 9,000+ ft. camp. (Dad, leaning on his back pack in the flat part of the pass, gasping for breath: If we were in an airplane cockpit, we'd either be in a pressurized cabin, or wearing oxygen masks right now.) It is pretty depressing when you are faced with LEVEL GROUND, and have to rest every five minutes.

I wrote a song called "Mountain Lover" after that experience, but nobody but me ever wants to sing it. Some day, I may post the poem (lyrics) part...

I still keep an Eddie Bauer sleeping bag and a poly pad (air mattresses in wilderness use tend to develop holes that leak all the air out overnight) behind the seat in my truck, along with jumper cables, etc. Even traveling in "tame" Iowa, I've used it when I did not expect to. Beats falling asleep at the wheel.

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