Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Walkabout Recap

Guess I never got around to telling you about the overnight walkabout a couple of weekends ago.

Ryan and I hiked in to Cedar Creek forest about 6:30 friday night, July 6.

All we had with us was a knife, a flint, and a water bottle.


Two tents, sleeping pads, candle lanterns, lighters. Pipes. A couple of folding camp stools. Whiskey. And a couple of pistols just in case. GPS. 4 cornish game hens. A couple of potatoes. Trail mix. Oatmeal and apples for the morning. Mini alchohol stove. Head lamp. A thing of camp spices. 4 beers. A hatchet. And a hiker's water filter.

Yeah we were each carrying about 50 lbs, including a gallon of water each. Not excactly "Man vs. Wild".

But it was fun.

These walkabouts were started by Ryan's grandfather, his Mother's father. When he was a boy, he and his grandfather would pack some hotdogs & buns and a pan into the woods, make a little campfire, cook the dogs, eat them. His grandfather would teach him a few outdoor skills. Then they'd go back. I don't think it was even very far into the woods.

Ryan, as a teenager, really wanted to go on Outward Bound, and saved his money to go. As it turned out, some juvenille delinquents were "sentenced" to it... they "had" to do it and didn't want to and didn't pay for it. Ryan was the opposite. He wanted to do it so bad he saved up his money and paid for it. And early on in the trip he slipped and fell in a stream, cutting his face up pretty bad. They were going to evacuate him, but no way was he going. He ended up doing the whole trip. I think it was out on the Appalachain Trail.

Me, I watched two of my older brothers go through cub scouts, webeloes, and boy scouts when we lived in southern California when I was very young. I couldn't wait to get into cub scouts.

But it never happened. We moved away from California about the time I would've been doing that, and life changed dramatically for the Leith family. The closest I ever got was a brief stint in 4-H... and my project was our 7-year-old poodle. Not excactly hiking and camping and pinewood derby.

I do remember family camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains a couple of summers when I was a kid, and those memories probably have a lot to do with my love for mountain air. Baking pine needles, lofty peaks, cascading streams -- and camping.

Anyway, as we were roasting our game hens on a spit, drinking a beer, smoking a pipe by the light of the Uco candle lanterns and campfire -- I think Ryan's grandfather was at light's edge watching in approval. We could almost feel him.

There are wild dogs and coyotes out there and we were probably a good hour and a half from medical help. But headlamp scans of the surrounding forest showed nary an eyeball. Cant' say the same for Alley Spring, where all evening raccoons were battling for position in the shadows to invade the campsites the moment our lanterns were snuffed.

There was a lot to do. We really didn't have anything to eat the game hens on, so we picked it apart with our fingers. It was good, but messy. It occured to us that perhaps cooking the food at the camp fire so close to our tents might not have been the best idea because of the wildlife it attracts, but we burned the bones, the wrapping, and anything food-like in the hope that the rest of the camp site would not attract any unwelcomed visitors. That seemed to work.

We didn't turn in until about 1:00 am. I woke up to birds about 5:00 am. A whipoorwill whipooorilled outside of my tent briefly, then flew on. Got up about 7. Cooked our oatmeal, then went down to the creek to clean the pans and get more water.

That's where I took the hummingbird moth picture.

We broke camp and hiked out about 2 or 3 miles to the Calloway County side where Kristie picked us up at about 1:00 pm.

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