November 10 -15, 1999

Big Bottom Outing

November 15, 1999 - Monday

In the pre-dawn, there was some rain. It woke both Steve and I up, plunk-plunk on the tight tent rain fly, but it wasn't much to worry about. If we got soaked, the only real problem was a safe drive back.

My night was good, but not really comfortable. There was more than enough warmth from the sleeping bag and the blanket; but, I had not moved my cot the few inches it needed to move to make it more level. The out of level did nothing toward comfort, and the warm bag and blanket didn't mean much to me that morning. If anything, I was too warm. It was just time to get up.

I went outside and saw a glow in Bill's tent. The fire was still smoldering and it took only a few small pieces of greasy, sticky pitch wood to get it going. We still had a fine row of rounds to burn if we needed them. I made some boiled coffee over the propane stove and started the water heating on the big coffee pot. The Coleman stove still gave me a bit of a problem on how to make a heated burner.

Bill came out of his tent and had a little good coffee to share. He had a small stove in there and had made some. That was what was making the light. We sat by the fire or under the tarp cover, as the rain said to do so. It was very quiet. The river was making the ripple sounds that it should. Early, a vehicle had gone up the asphalt road, but none since. That meant it was probably a logger or some specialized Forest Service person or some other person was going on a mission into the forest..

We talked slowly. The big pot of coffee started to perk and that brought Steve out of the bag. Bill had brought some grates that we could set by the fire, so the pot went on one of them. We ate the last of Woody's solid cake donuts. Then Bill and Steve went up the mountain to pull the high traps. I stayed and watched things and started the bacon.

I took out a pound of good bacon that the meat counter person had picked out for us. I simply cut the lengths in half and put it in a fry pan over the second burner. The bacon started to slowly cook under a piece of aluminum foil. Then I rinsed the coffee pot and set it up to make more coffee. The old, I put in a pan by the fire for me to drink. It was good and getting strong. Then I made my way into the forest for a stump break and after cleaning my hands well, came back to camp.

It didn't seem like too long before Bill and Steve came off the mountain and back down the incline into camp. They seemed to like the new coffee and it was time to make breakfast. Bill had some good Idaho baked potatoes that he skinned in the bad places and otherwise cubed. Then he took what was left of the bear sausage and made a great potato fry.

I had taken the bacon pan and had tilted the pan down next to the wood fire to make the fat start to drain, but still keep it warm. That worked fine and by the time Steve got out of the tent and had a cup of coffee, there was a really tasty breakfast waiting. We took all we wanted and then some. Again this morning, Steve, the no breakfast man, seemed to enjoy the bacon and potatoes very much. Of course, it was getting along towards mid-morning and it had been quite a trip, so he was allowed out of his usual habit.

After we sat a while by the fire and enjoyed the morning - it was clearing. Then we started taking down the camp. Steve had taken down his tent the afternoon before, so he worked on packing his gear in the tent. That didn't take him long. He uses big Duluth canvas packs for his clothes and they filled fast. The old style Duluth canvas packs are the real thing and in my opinion, they should be used more than they are. Steve gave me one for my birthday and it is very good.

I had already gotten my cot and clothes out of the blue tent and had stowed most of the stuff that went in the cab of my truck behind the seat. I kept out the bungee cords to secure what needed securing in the back. Most of my other boxes were also packed and sitting by the truck. Then I took the rain fly off the tent and finished pulling the pegs. Fortunately the ground was soft and that wasn't the job it is in the summer. Then I took out the shock cord shafts from their holding prongs and the tent collapsed.

I managed to get the tent down and rolled by myself. It just took some time. While I was doing that, Bill took down his tent and Steve started taking apart the kitchen. Then the puzzle assembly into the trucks started and ended fairly fast. We had the whole thing torn down and loaded about an hour and a half and we weren't hurrying.

I was taking the garbage down to the dumpster the Forest Service had somewhat hidden at the Fish Creek raft ramp. If they put them out near the road people quickly fill them with garbage, so they tend to put them in out of the way places. One of my self-imposed jobs on Thursday was to find a dumpster. It took a couple of side trips until I found one. Anyway, some considerate camper had left a milk bottle carton that was modified as a toilet seat close to our tent. I had room in the garbage can, so took a piece of plastic so I didn't have to touch the thing and loaded it up. It had been disgusting us for four days. I don't know why we just didn't put a black plastic garbage bag over it so we didn't have to look at it.

Unbelievably, when I went to dump the cheeze wonder food into the garbage can, the stuff poured! It never did set up. When I took the shovel to clean up the cheeze on the ground where the pan had tipped over, it was still liquid! And we were eating it! Have to get more of that stuff. Only things I've seen that's worse is jack mackerel, followed closely by the blue tinned wonder meat.

We patrolled the site to pick up any little odds and ends and determined that it was cleaner when we left than when we came. I had stacked the rest of the rounds and the cord wood by the fire place. Some one was lucking into a several hour fire. I kept the pitch wood and one piece of cedar that had come from down home.

Then we left. The sky was blue with some broken clouds. I followed Steve as he pulled the Big Bottom trap line. No marten at the first two, no marten at the second two, no marten at the last two. He had pulled the hard to get to sets down by the side creek the day before. Steve's main objective wasn't met, but he wasn't disappointed. It had been a good outing. More time could have been spent setting traps. On the drive down the mountain, when I was in range, I turned the radio on to a talk show that I like and then turned it off after a couple of minutes.

While I was tired when I got home, I had to unpack at least the bed of the truck. I quickly swept the leaves from the garage driveway and laid out the tent, tarps and my sleeping bag to start drying. While it wasn't real warm, the sun was out. I finished drying the tent on Wednesday when the rains took another break. That was the end of the Big Bottom Outing.

On Wednesday, I met Steve down in Willamette and he had his map out. He had located a good place to watch for Bigfoots this winter, lower in the mountains. Probably also a good area to set a few marten traps, but I'm just guessing………………The end.


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