Training Camp

My good friend Tom and I always talk about it.  It’s training.  Everything we do is a result of our training and everything we’re doing is just more training.  I think that’s how it goes.  What does that mean? I guess down to its roots it’s about surviving, it’s about life, it’s well… about 42.  We joke that if the chit hits the fan we’re surviving, and if you’re smart, you’ll stick with us!  But it’s not really a joke… completely.   It’s also about getting back to nature for me.  Getting to the quietness that I need internally and externally.  Getting back in touch with Mother Earth where our spirits unite and reconnect in peaceful serenity.  I love the Earth, I love the woods… I love going a little more Wodwo!!

Tom met up Friday around 5pm and headed for the Finger Lakes National Forest.  Short drive to some beautiful landscape just around the corner from Watkins Glen.  Packs on our backs we hiked up hill just under 2 miles in the dark and made camp around 9pm.  Nothing we haven’t done many times before.  At least it wasn’t raining this time, and there were no hippies by the pond right Tom!!  (ok, at the end I may fill all of you in on that one)

1st night making camp 8pm

Temperatures dropped into the 20’s friday night and having adequate cold weather gear is definitely a plus in those conditions.  I did not however!  Though my 40 degree bag did a great job the chill settled in and after some time I found a way to keep as much warm in as possible.  A little sleep, a little cursing at not having a bivy for my bag… or a 20 degree bag.  But as I said, it’s survival!!  It was a chilly night but I’ve camped in much much colder conditions.  What I failed to notice that night was that the seam on the crash pad had degraded enough that it began to separate.  That, I would notice the next night before hitting the rack.  Friday night however was truly amazing.  A good fire and perfect clear skies revealing more stars than I think I have ever seen.  It was spectacular and breathtaking.  Of course that also means no cloud cover to hold the heat in.

Saturday morning was beautiful as well.  A slow warming and the sunrise felt so good.  Standing in the camp just warming under the sun as it came over the trees.  It was magnificent.  Spent the morning building the fire and having Mountain House breakfasts and just talking.  Tom and I both can talk!  At some point we needed to hike out for water supply, but it was pretty dry in the forest after this summer. The usual creeks and brooks and streams were bone dry but there is a couple ponds and I always have my pump filter.  MSR Sweetwater I love you!! A little bit of hiking and a lot more just relaxing at the site with a good friend, good conversation and great fires!

Saturdays Fire… just the beginning of a doozie!!

There was a strange moment when we were just sitting around the fire talking when out of the corner of my eye I saw Rambo coming off a back trail into our camp cutting through to the main trail.  Full fatigues, face paint, bow and quiver.  It was surreal, and reminded me that Bow season had actually started a week early this year.  Saturday was pretty uneventful, just decompressing and relaxing and eating Mountain House meals.  There was much talk about “people”.

Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki
“Hobbits Were Here”

This was actually carved down low in support for the lean-to.

Saturday night was nice.  We had us a rip roaring fire that lasted well into the wee hours with some monster logs on it.  As I said, it’s all just training.  Training for what,  just in case we need to, we know how to!  Much warmer night in the mid 40s it almost felt balmy comparatively and I was much more comfortable in my ill equipped bag and crash pad.  Slept great in the open lean-to with the crackling sounds of burning wood and the wind in the trees.  Light rain started early and I have no idea how much came.  I knew the ground was wet though.

We woke up sunday morning and started to pack up and pack out.  A really nice mostly downhill walk out with some great scenery.  That’s Tom on the Finger Lake Trail.

Good friend Tom, packing out on Finger Lake Trail sunday morning.
That’s me, on the pack out. We joked that the sign that said “Trail” with the arrow, was actually French for Truck, because that’s the direction it was parked in.

So, no really great stories again… but some good adventuring and some good fellowship with a good buddy in some great forest!  It occured to me during this trip that it’s probably time to replace some of my gear, and I am not in as good of shape as I used to be… and that was a little disappointing.

Tom reminded me to mention that “it was uphill both ways, in and out of camp, there was not enough food, very small fires, and a Swedish Bikini Team”

Ok, the hippies around the pond bit…. A few years back Tom and I were packing in the same forest.  I went in friday night and he was meeting up with me saturday at a pre determined site.  So I headed up and parked in an area and got my pack on and started heading in when I immediately ran into several school buses parked at the trail head in the trees.  There were clearly people living in the buses.  I thought to myself, okay, deadheads at the forest entrance near the pond no big deal.  I walked in between the buses to the trail head and saw only a couple people up ahead sitting by the pond… naked.  Which wasn’t really that big of a deal as they were on the other side I didn’t have to interact with them.  I get into the woods and dogs come running and barking with now owners so I drop my pack and grab my knife as I don’t know where this is going to go.  The dogs were not happy to see me.  All of a sudden out of the woods comes a twenty something grubby looking kid that says” hey… are you a fed man…. we’ve got rainbow scouts in the trees that saw you come in… they think you’re a fed man….”  Now at this point, I’m standing pack on the ground, large knife in my hand, having just yelled sit at a crazy looking dog.. that did by the way… and this kid is asking me if I’m a fed.  I don’t cope well with people who don’t attend their dogs at all.  I love dogs, dogs will do what dogs do, it’s their owners responsibility to see to them, dogs are instinctual, people are responsible for them, therefore I am always inclined to deal with the owner rather than the dog.  Sometimes I will deal with an owner as I see fit and take the dog, because they are clearly neglected.  I love dogs more than people.   I will leave out what my reply was to him as I don’t know who is going to read this, but it had a lot to do with being a degenerate homeless loser with a dog not on a leash in a public park, and I may have referanced the knife in my hand a couple of times if he didn’t take care of his dog that looked like it hadn’t eaten in some time.  He keeps talking about Rainbow Scouts so I pick up my pack let him know it would be unwise for him to allow his dog to run free, but he invites me to dinner that night with his scouts…..  I decline, reassure him it would be unwise to travel in the direction of my camp and proceed on to make my camp about three miles up the trail.  At some point that night, pretty late through the trees from about 3 miles away I can hear horrible singing and tambourines carried on the breeze, and a dog keeps running through my site.  It never occured to me that Tom was coming in the following morning through the same route, and to maybe give him some warning via text or whatever. So he came in and got the full brunt of degenerate (I use the term as to not associate these people with Deadheads or hippies) nudity bathing in the scummy pond with no advance warning, and the multiple dogs surrounding him on the trail.  Turns out these people had been living in the buses at that location for about 2 months.  They had completely covered the area with litter, filth and debris, and must have been throwing gallons of paint at there buses because it covered the ground all around them.  The entire area they were occupying was disgusting with filth and it was really disheartening.  This really put an unpleasant stigma in my mind about “deadheads” at the time, until I met a few adults later on and I realized that these were just disgusting people misdirected but not a representation of the whole.  End of that segment.

So all in all, once again…. I am brought back to the path in the forest… the path that started the blog.  The paths that we are all walking, and meeting each other and parting again.

Its was a great weekend.  And it’s great to be back home.  Unfortunately my timing was all wrong so I was late getting here before my bride had to leave for the airport.  But I am looking forward to her return Tuesday.  Until then I am looking forward to the comfort of our bed.


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