Summer Solstice Cookout


The Adventurer, Vernon Wade

Vernon was born in the Pacific Northwest and still lives in the shadow of Mt. Hood, near the small town where he grew up. Vernon has spent decades wandering the hills, hunting mushrooms, camping and riding motorcycles into the remotest nooks and crannies to be found in the region.


My wife was having her book club over to our house for dinner. It seemed prudent to retreat to the woods for the evening. My brother’s wife is a member of the book club, leaving Andy unsupervised. It didn’t take much coaxing to get him to join me.








We packed a picnic dinner along with an adequate supply of beer and hopped in the sidecar, heading up the hill to see if we could get to the Big Rock. They had been logging up there and I wasn’t sure it was still accessible.

When we got to the top of the ridge, we found a scene of utter devastation. They skinned all the trees off; only stumps and towering piles of slash remained. I wasn’t even sure I could find the road down to the Big Rock, everything looked so different with the trees gone.









I picked a road I thought might be the way in. The faint track tunneling through the trees I remembered was gone, replaced by a broad avenue graded with loose, fist-sized pit run, punched down a denuded hill covered with stumps and blackened by slash fires. I was confused when the road turned uphill unexpectedly, But Andy spotted the remains of the old roadbed heading downhill from the corner.

There was no way we could negotiate it with the motorcycle; we would have to walk. The road was so obliterated I was unconvinced we had found the trail until we had walked through the clear-cut to the edge of the cutting boundary. Here we found the old, familiar road, a dark passageway through the surviving thicket of trees beyond the logging show.

We packed our gear and provisions down to the Big Rock at the bottom of the draw. Collecting some firewood and tinder, we soon had a small fire blazing merrily next to the rock.










We rewarded ourselves with a cold beer and hung the bean pot from a tripod over the flames.

When the beans had cooked, we roasted some hot dogs and celebrated Summer Solstice with a feast – beer, beans and dogs, watermelon, and fresh cherries!










When we had finished eating, we doused the fire and cleaned up the ashes. With an hour or two of daylight remaining, we hiked back to the bike and took the scenic route back, exploring a few spur roads along the way.

Book club was just about finished by the time we got home. A good time was had by all.


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