December 31, 2018 Sunset 4:33 PM January 1, 2019 Moonrise 3:28 AM, waning crescent Sunrise 7:49 AM
I found myself at loose ends for New Year’s Eve. Amy was in California visiting relatives and both my brothers were busy. I had to work that morning, but I had the next day off – it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go camping. I was torn between taking the sidecar or the truck, finally deciding to take the truck so both the dogs could come too. I loaded the tipi and most of my gear Sunday. Monday morning I rode the bike to work. It was a cold, very beautiful ride in.
It was nearly 3:00 when I parked the truck at the trail head. Sunset was about an hour and a half away, and I still had to pack everything about a quarter mile in. I would be setting up camp in the dark. I wasted no time unloading the truck. It took me several trips to get all the tipi poles into camp, I harnessed Walter to the travois and he hauled in the cover, the liner, the food box and the furniture. Walt got a little tangled when he strayed into the vine maple, but for the most part, he kept his tail up and put his back into it, pulling those loads without complaint.
After I dragged the poles in I went back for the wheelbarrow and my backpack. Walter brought a load of firewood in on his last trip, while I retrieved our bedding, the water jugs and some more dry wood.
I tied the four thickest poles together, lifting them up and spreading them apart to make a stable base to stack the rest of the tipi poles on. It can be difficult to lift the base up without help. I hammered a shovel into the dirt and butted the poles up against it so they couldn’t slide away when I lifted them into position. I had the base up by 4 o’clock, and the rest of the poles set up and the cover on by sunset, but it was dark by the time I got the last tent peg in.
Once I had the fire going, I put the tea kettle on. While I was at it, I pulled some frozen chanterelle soup from the cooler and placed it in a pot next to the fire to thaw. With the soup warming, I turned my attention to setting up my bunk and hung a couple of sections of liner to prevent drafts.
We were startled by several gunshots, loud and close by. I loaded my single-six and ducked outside, firing a couple of rounds to let them know there was someone out here. Clem ignored the disturbance, unwilling to stir from her bed, but Walter dove through the liner and squeezed under the cover, running out into the brush. I went back inside. I had gotten chill out there; the temperature had certainly dropped below freezing, so I grabbed the tea kettle and made a cup of hot chocolate, spiking it with rum.
Walter cautiously returned, poking his nose in under the back of the tipi.
“No, Walter,” I cried. “Use the door.”
He couldn’t seem to figure that one out. He moved five feet to the left and tried it again.
He circled the tipi. Each time I would see his two black eyes and nose pushing up the bottom of the tipi, I’d tell him “No,” and he would try again, a little farther over. After a couple of circumnavigations he blundered through the door, and was a happy puppy once again. He had no more problem with that concept and was in and out the door to bark into the night at random intervals for the rest of the evening.
By this time, the soup had thawed. I stirred it and moved the pot over the coals to get it hot. The rest of the meal was still in the cooler: Ham & cheese on sourdough, mustard and mayo on the inside, buttered on the outside, ready to be clamped in the pie iron.
Sandwich secured in place, I put the pie iron in the ashes where the coals had burned down- still hot, but not as hot as the glowing embers or flames. I flipped it frequently to keep it from scorching; it didn’t take long to brown, and dinner was ready
After I’d wolfed down my soup and sandwich, I fed and watered the dogs. They were too tired to argue over the blanket and crashed out side by side as soon as they were done eating.
I enjoyed a few more hot chocolates laced with rum and before I knew it, it was nearly midnight. As the old year rolled over the Willard Militia let loose a barrage of small arms fire. Caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment, I grabbed my revolver and emptied the wheel, firing six shots into a stump outside.
Walter didn’t run off this time but gave me a reproachful look when I came back in and reloaded my gun. I assured him I was done and holstered my weapon. He wagged his tail an laid back down. Clementine never stirred. I think she might be going deaf.
As the distant gunfire died away, I put my dishes in the bucket and prepared for bed, with one dog sleeping at my feet and the other near my head. I stoked the fire and stacked some wood where I could easily reach it without getting up. I resolved to sleep and drifted off almost immediately. When the fire died down, the cold would wake me just long enough to toss another stick on the fire. At 3 o’clock it had gotten cold enough I needed to put on a sweater. I had to pee anyway, so I got up. Outside, the night was black and bejeweled with stars. The ground was frozen hard and everywhere I shone my flashlight sparkled with frost. Walter stayed close to my side as I walked away from camp, whether for my protection or his own I’m not sure. I pissed a steaming stream into some ferns and shut off my light, enjoying the darkness a moment before returning, guided back by the orange glow of the tipi, lit by the fire inside.
I snuggled back into my sleeping bag and slept soundly until daybreak.
I only stayed outside long enough to take care of an urgent matter, then went right back inside and piled more wood on the fire.
I had noticed a downed tree about halfway between camp and the truck, which looked like it might make a convenient latrine rail, so I walked out to the road to get my draw knife and posthole digger, as well as a large, heavy plank end I had brought to use as a toilet lid to keep the dogs out. After I had the hole dug I used the draw knife to shave the rail smooth. My timing couldn’t have been better. I had no sooner finished my preparations when it was time to put them to the test. Well satisfied with the results of my labor, I washed up and returned to camp.
When I got back to the tipi, it was time to turn my attention to food. I put the skillet on the coals to heat up and fed and watered the dogs before pulling some bacon from the cooler. It sizzled just right when it hit the hot iron.
I split another wheel of biscuit dough and put it in the skillet with the bacon, cracking in three eggs with some more butter at the same time. I set the kettle on the flames and flipped the biscuits and the pie iron every so often to keep them from burning. When the eggs were done I pulled the skillet off the heat and ate my breakfast. The pie iron remained over low heat while I ate, occasionally erupting with little gouts of molten jam. I enjoyed the jam pie as a second breakfast, with another cup of tea.
After I put my dishes away and locked up the food box, I sat and read for awhile. Then I wandered around camp taking photos….
…of the hippie mojo hanging from the door pole,
and of the tools
and the dog travois, leaned against a tree
I walked down the trail and looked at the basket trees.
I pulled out my map to get a better sense of my surroundings. Looking at the map it appeared there might be a stream not too far from my camp. Taking a compass bearing, the dogs and I set out through the trees. After about fifteen minutes of bushwhacking we came to a steep embankment overlooking Lava Creek. It looked pretty raucous, tumbling over rocks and small waterfalls. I definitely need to come back when I have more time to explore.
Realizing I needed to strike camp soon if I wanted to get out of the woods before dark, I hurried back to camp. I took down the tipi, and packed up my gear.
List of Supplies and Provisions
T = packed in truck B = packed in bag BX = packed in bear proof box BP = packed in back pack
. =Needs packing
2 shovels T
1 posthole digger (to dig shit hole) T
1 plank (to cover shit hole) T
2 buckets T
rope and twine B
draw knife T
- revolver, .22 wheel, box of cartridges, rig
- 1 bundle firewood
additional pear wood T
Matches/lighters/fero rod BX
blow tube BX
maps and compass BP
first aid kit BP
firestarting kit BP
canteen x2 BP
sleeping bag BP
2 sleeping pads T
3 blankets BP
1 cot T
2 chairs T
Hand soap, moist towlettes, towel, TP BP
change of socks, shorts, longjohns BP
rain gear BP
wool gloves and beany BP
leather gloves T
- extra boots
flashlight x2 BX
- camera with extra battery and phone
- battery bank
- charging cables
- wear: poly base layer, long johns if cold out, syth or wool shirt, wool pants, wool socks, gortex socks, new boots, , gaiters, warm jacket, hat
water jugs T
kerosene lantern T
1 skillet BX
1 pie iron BX
1 roasting skewer BX
pot, lid and grabber BX
tea pot T
dish soap T
plate, cup, bowl 2 each BX
spatula and wooden spoon BX
trivet x2 T
chain and hook T
- food box
large tarp T
1 door T
1 door pole T
Liner 2 sections B
13 poles T
21 pegs T
6 Pins T
tape measure B
Step stool T
anchor rope B
prayer rug T
- both dogs
- harness and traces 1 each
- 3 dog bowls
- dog canteen
- travois and pulk T
- 2 dog blankets T
- butter freezer
- jam fridge
- eggz fridge
- counterwop fridge
- bacon freezer
- franks x4 freezer
- frozen cream of chanterelle soup freezer
- ham sammy-sourdough spread with butter, mayo and mustard, ham, swiss cheese freezer
salt & pepper BX
oranges x2 BX
Swiss Piss BX
cheeze balls BX
chanterelle soup-from freezer, double bag it.
ham and cheese pudgy- sliced ham, white bread, mayo, mustard, butter
hot choc and rum
counter wop and jam hand pie
bacon & eggs
biscuit & butter, jam
hot dogs wrapped in counter-wop