Tuesday, December 10, 2013

After the Raid at Potato Lake

     By time the LEO rangers left, it was nearly dinner time and all of my belongings were scattered and unpacked on blankets around the camp. A camper named Mike, who was on the other side of the hill from me, rode through on a quad to make sure I was okay and brought me a rib eye wrapped in foil. The day before, I had traded him my guitar, paints, books, and other objects I would be unable to carry for dog food and a box of cigars the previous owner left in his camper. Being Mormon, Mike and his family didn’t carry coffee. I would have to make do with the bitter Chicory and Dandelion roots that grew along the roadsides. I roasted these on a rock by the fire and boiled the shit out of them for a barely palatable hot beverage. I had reached a stage where whatever calories and vitamins I could get were important.
     The steak was much appreciated because all I had left were meager rations to get me to the nearest fishable lake twenty-four miles away. I had a can of tomato soup, a gallon ziplock full of breadcrumbs, and a half pound can of Knorr’s Mushroom Hunters gravy powder.
     After sharing the rib eye with Maya, I repacked my gear and strapped my tarps on top of my external frame pack. Once thusly loaded I couldn’t lift the pack to get into it, so I sat it next to a tree and strapped it on sitting down. Then, pushing against the tree, I slid myself upward into a standing position. I was carrying nearly two hundred pounds of gear and figured I would do two miles a day at 100 yard intervals.
     I had devised a tool to help me keep track of mileage. Knowing that my average pace is one, and a mile is 1760 yards, I strung 18 beads on a piece of hemp that was tight enough to prevent the beads from slipping on their own. For each one hundred paces I traveled, I slid one bead to the other end of the hemp. Once the beads had all been moved, I would have travelled approximately one mile. (1800 instead of 1760 paces to compensate for a slightly shorter pace due to the heavy pack). Having a decent estimate of distances was important so I would know where to look, according to my maps and charts, for water sources and connecting trails.
     Before I got out of camp though, disaster struck. As I descended the low hill to the trail from my camp, my tarps shifted forward over my head and I tumbled head over heels down the hill. After several moments of flailing like an upside down turtle, I extricated myself from the gear and surveyed the damages. Luckily I was unhurt. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the pack frame which had snapped the supporting guy wires and was in ruins. Crap.
     Remembering my survival studies, I cut some branches with my machete and fashioned a travois using some of my rope for lashings (One of those ladder-looking things that you drag your crap with) and set off down the hill again. No Bueno. The weight of the travois, together with the gear, dug a furrow as I walked that made it quite difficult and made it immediately apparent that I couldn’t cover 24 miles like this.            Discouraged; I kindled a small fire, smoked some of my remaining resin, brewed up a cup of nasty tasting crap, and resolved myself to address.the problem after a night’s sleep.
(I later learned you're supposed to have a horse or mule to pull a travois).

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