November 10 -15, 1999

Big Bottom Outing

November 14, 1999 - Sunday

Good Bill was up early on Sunday, chopping wood, getting the fire started and making coffee. I liked the chopping sound and got up. I should have felt like hell; but didn't. The lack of sleep didn't even bother me. When it was all over, the whiskey consumption was actually much lower than we had anticipated. In fact, on Monday, I know Trapper Steve brought home a big slosh and I brought home almost a whole fifth. What the others brought back I don't know, but since Trapper Steve and I had bought the quality Irish stuff, they got into it soon as it came out.

Thom and Jim and Keith had planned on some good things for Saturday night supper. Unfortunately, like most of the food brought up, we didn't get into it. They determined to make the best breakfast available and after going through the lists, they made up a batch of stuff and was it good. There was bacon from me and those good fried potatoes that Cliff brought. They had other things and then there were the four little pancakes that Keith made for each person. Someone had brought real syrup and that made them better. Seconds were asked for and served all around. Even Steve, who normally doesn't eat much breakfast had a good plateful or more.

Steve wanted to show me the sets up the mountain, so Thom, Keith and I went with him up there. The sun was bright and the sky clear up high. He had put one up by Tarzan Springs and another up near the head of Lowe Creek in some of the nicest high terrain you could hope to see on that side of the valley. While none were fresh, there were quite a few deer and elk tracks in the woods. We were disappointed that no martens were in the traps. After all, that was the main goal of the trip.

On the way up, a grouse sat and committed suicide as they often do when confronted by a shotgun on a roadway. Just as it lifted off, Steve made a good shot with his 20 gauge double barrel and the grouse went down just over the bank about 8'-10' down slope. When Steve cleaned it, the breast had only a few pellets in it. Steve is a very good wing shot. Thom got excited about the whole event and it was fun to see him enjoy it so much.

When we got back, Cliff and Woody had left. Woody's wife was ill or he would have stayed. He talked to her on the cell phone. We had a proper camp and it was too bad that we couldn't have predicted the weather better. If so, Woody's 13 year old son could have come and been welcome. He would have had a good time as a young man, what with his energy, the fire, the mountains, the guns and the trapping and all.

Thom and Jim and Keith also left. They were scheduled to only come for Saturday night. They were good people and good guests. Jim was in sorry shape. The cheeze stuff hadn't gone far enough south. Anyway, in about an hour, they would get to Estacada and get some plugger-upper. For as many kits as there were in the camp, it was surprising that no one had any.

Now, it was Trapper Steve, Bill and me. After we had a very light lunch, Trapper and I went to check the Big Bottom trap line. Nothing. Darn. Good trapping places to my eye.

Back at camp, I tried to warm up the cheeze stuff and did well until the pot slid off the little heater and spilled half of it on the ground. That was ok. There was plenty. Got it hot, sat out the picante sauce bottle and we had some nachos of the crudest variety. We ate some salami that Bill had brought up. It was not bad, not bad at all.

We looked at the spaghetti. Not good. All the remaining noodles had been put in the sauce, so there wasn't much to heat up except a big pan of noodles. We decided we didn't want to do the canned beef stew, so it was muncho city. More cheeze stuff, more salami, more picante sauce and more "Scoops." Somehow, another bag showed up. They were much favored over the white corn chips. Probably greasier. Fatty foods tend to taste better in the cold.

There was lots of wood, so the fire burned well. The night came early. We talked. Bill likes history and so do I, so the talk went along those lines. We talked about everything from The War of 1812 to Rockerfeller. Steve knows a lot about the NE and the old NW, so we had a good talk. All the time, there were noises around the camp; grunts, branch stomps and the like, probably a bear not wanting to come in.

After some time of odd noises, I decided to go up on the road and hear a little clearer. I went into the bleak dark and I'm not joking. It was dark and normally, I like the dark. It is a special time. Then some scruffs came toward me on the gravel. I went to flash on the light and guess what! No light! I had forgotten it. Well I had visions of a bear or worse, a cougar after me so I howl and roar off at sprinter speed down the incline to the fire light. Scared the hell out of me. Tossed off my glasses. Tired as I could be when I got back, sliding and skidding. I guess I'm afraid of the dark, even though I have spent a lot of dark hours; might depend on the safety devices you have along, like lights or a side arm.

Having a bunch to drink also didn't hurt the imagining. No more drinking at all that night. Water and hyperventilating. Told Steve to take my revolver from the tent and put it in his truck for safe keeping. No objections from either Steve of Bill on that one. We got back to talking, sort of. I felt bad about the whole thing. Anyway, I didn't have a cougar breaking my skull the hard way.

We stayed up for about another hour and a half. Steve and Bill preloaded the coffee pot and then we went to bed. Still no rain. Deep into the night, something started making wood noises to the east of the tent. I woke Steve up and he listened to them. Decided it could have been deer stamps. Bill didn't hear them from his tent. The temperature was mild, so the problem in the night was regulating heat from the bag and the blankets. We were very lucky.


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