The Drought Ends

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.

           Friday evening, September 17th, 2021 the drought ended with the first significant rainfall in many months. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest lifted its ban on campfires which had been in place since the beginning of June. More than four inches of rain fell over the weekend. Naturally, this was the weekend my brother and I chose to go camping.

         WalterHaulingCanvas It was muggy and overcast with rain in the offing when we arrived at Pistol Creek. Wasting no time, we loaded the cart and Walter pulled the cover in; I followed, dragging a few more tipi poles. Adding the poles to those Andy and I had set up the previous weekend, we hastily lifted the canvas in place before we hauled the rest of our gear in. At least we’d have a dry shelter if the rains came earlier than predicted.





Andy cut pegs and carved the lacing pins while I got the last load in. He also stretched a couple of tarps between some trees at the edge of our clearing, providing a place to stack our gear. I finished pegging down the tipi and hanging the liner inside. It stayed warm and dry, we were able to set up camp without getting wet.






Our friend Mike showed up in time to help my brother gather some firewood.  Mike didn’t stay long, leaving shortly after we finished the bourbon.

          Walter ducked into the tipi to hide from the flies. If he didn’t roll in bear poop, they probably wouldn’t bother him so much.







Andy did all the cooking this trip. Dinner was bratwurst, beer and salad. We roasted the bratwurst on the first campfire we had enjoyed in months. There had been no precipitation to speak of since winter. Heavy rain began falling as we finished eating. We kept the fire going all night.










Saturday morning dawned wet, rain pounding down on the cover and water running down the poles.













Walter attempted to sleep in. Andy and Oreo tried to sleep in, too. Eventually, they got up and did their yoga.







We stoked the fire, getting it blazing in an effort to dry things out.







Andy made cheesey scrambled eggs and bacon for Saturday breakfast.

          Disaster was narrowly averted when his chair collapsed in the soft dirt. Somehow my brother avoided the fire, didn’t dump his breakfast in the dirt and managed to fend off his dog without losing a bite.






After breakfast, I put some water on to boil so I could do the dishes. We set up a wash station under one of the tarps in the meadow.











We spent most of the day inside the lodge, venturing out to gather firewood or fetch water from the creek during breaks between squalls. 











Oreo supervised as Andy dug a latrine. We lashed a rail between two trees out behind camp and fashioned a crude shelter overhead.








We took another break from the rain and heated up a kettle to make hot rum drinks.







Andy made salmon fettuccini for our dinner Saturday. It was so good we just dived in and forgot to get a photo. After diner we relaxed by the fire until the rain lulled us to sleep.









At three-thirty in the morning I was moved to leave my bunk. The latrine was on a trail out through the woods behind camp. It all looks the same in the rainy darkness, but I had the foresight to mark the path with Fire Tacks, so I was able to make the trip there and back without getting lost.

          After I returned from the latrine, I stoked the fire and went back to bed.

          Sunday morning, we had apples and oatmeal for breakfast. Andy thought she was being affectionate, but I think Oreo was just licking the oatmeal out of his beard.






The rain stopped and things began to dry out. We packed up and started hauling our things back to the truck.










  Before we took the cover down, we made bacon wrapped bratwurst for lunch.







Then we finished striking camp and hauled the last load out. It had been a long time since we camped in the rain. Long enough to make it a novel and enjoyable experience.






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