It had been a warm, clear day when we started Saturday, but by mid afternoon the sky had gone slate-gray and opened up on us. We made camp in a torrential downpour.
Mike had to leave before we were done setting up; Jason, Robert, and I hurried to get the lodge finished and our gear under cover, before turning our attention to gathering firewood.
We had a light dinner of ham hand-pies and canned beans, washed down with beer. Afterwards, we sat around the fire swapping lies until our eyes grew heavy and we were overtaken by sleep.
Sunday morning was drizzly. While we were getting the morning fire going a deer tried to cross the creek into to camp. Walter and the deer spied each other at the same time. The deer was up to her elbows in the stream and not certain how to retreat. She crouched lower in the water, trying to disappear, while Walter stood on the opposite bank and barked ferociously. Finally, the deer decided to break and run. She turned and bounded out of the creek, up the rocky bank and disappeared into the trees.
The morning entertainment concluded, Walter retired to a vantage point under the shelter of a fir and we broke fast with scrambled eggs and bacon, with morels we’d found that morning, fried in the bacon grease. After breakfast we boiled some water from the creek to do the dishes and worked on improving our campsite.
Then we loaded up the dog and took the truck down the road a piece to fetch a thunderbox I had left stashed not too far away. We hitched Walt to the travois. He hauled the toilet up to the road and we tossed it in the back of the truck. On the way back, we found a dense stand of lodgepole pine- the trees were tall and skinny, so crowded that many of them were dead or dying. We selected a few that were around twenty-feet tall and less than three inches across at the base. We took a half dozen of these for additional tipi poles, trimming them and loading them onto the truck.
Back in camp we had Walter drag the thunderbox to a sheltered knoll behind the lodge. This little hill was hidden in the trees and far enough from the creek to be an ideal spot for our latrine. Since the dog was already hitched to the travois, we made several trips back to the road to retrieve some log rounds we had seen. After Walt had dragged the wood into camp, I turned him loose. Robert split wood while I used the posthole digger to excavate our latrine.
Jason had to take his leave. He was scheduled to open the clinic Monday, so he needed to get back to town. I, however, was on vacation, and Robert, the lucky bastard, is retired, so we lounged around the fire inside the lodge, cooking ham sandwiches in the pie-irons and swilling beer.
Taking a break from relaxing, we got some coals going and put the ham in the Dutch oven, drizzled and partially submerged in a mixture of bourbon, oranges and brown sugar. We had baked ham for dinner and continued to gnaw on it throughout the week to come.
Rob and I stayed up late, drinking whiskey and reminiscing. We have known each other since we met in church camp, back when we just kids, so we have decades of shared memories to exaggerate.
After a leisurely breakfast Robert serenaded the dog with a tune from his concertina.
Wrapping a tipi liner around a stack of poles, I erected an enclosure for my Zodi propane powered camp shower. We had hot, pressurized water to clean up with and just like that, it was Shower and Clean Underwear Day!
We spent some time working on the longhouse, adding more poles and replacing the tipi cover on the back side with a couple of panels of canvas. This took the sag out of the sides and narrowed the gap at the ridgepole, making for much snugger and drier living quarters. We were expecting more people to join us on Tuesday.