Aug 26, 2009

August 26th, 2009

Let me introduce myself, I am Al, a 46 year old man who recently moved from central Texas with no real mountains, no wilderness areas; no moose, lions, bears, wolves, ect.. (Snakes, wild hogs, gators, and scorpions I'm used to). I am a big dude 6'3" 280 lbs, and do not like to hike if I can avoid it. I do have wilderness experience at a young age, and learned basic camping skills from the Boy Scouts, and even hiked 50 miles at Philmont many years ago.

Needless to say, I now live close to the Wasatch mountain range in Northern Utah, which is a pretty nice large and little used wilderness area. I can be outside human contact in 20 minutes on my dirt-bike. But it's all foreign and a little scary to me after all these years, after being in the settled world for my entire life. I car camped a couple times in the past two years, but stayed pretty close to the trail head, with other people, and enjoyed it a bit, but my fears of the wild animals (lots of lions in these parts), ruined it for me.

But I persisted, and was resolved to face these fears, so I decided to face them deep in the woods, and face them alone. So last weekend I drove my truck about 10 miles into the mountains solo, and decided to conquer my fears. I was armed with my Aussie Shepherd, my 30-30, and a bottle of Jim Beam: Since the canyon I drove up was fairly rough and lacked water and fishing opps, I had 1000's of acres all to myself.

After a few minutes at the camping spot, the silence and reality of being so far away of civilization hit me. My dog was having a blast, but I must admit that I was wary of every unfamiliar sound. So I started getting into the swing of things, setting up camp, sorting out the stuff I need for the night, hanging up the hammock, building the fire, which did help mellow things out. Then I just chilled out and read a few chapters of a good book (Lonesome Dove), and started to groove with the sounds of the wilderness and watching for mountain lions that were supposed to be all over the steep cliffs and mountaintops that were surrounding me. It was beautiful!

I pulled lightly on the Jim Beam bottle since I didn't want the drink to muddy the grand experience of just chillin' up in the Northern Rockies.

I still remembered my fire starting skills and quickly made a large fire as the paranoia of dusk set in. I remembered all the fire safety lessons taught back in the old scouting day, and settled down to a wonderful night hanging close to the protection of the campfire.

The stars were magnificent as I opened up a can of beans which slowly started bubbling at the edge of the stone fire ring I constructed. Then I realized the potential of getting an unwanted bear visit due to the sweet smell of the cooking beans. After chugging down the beans and sterilizing the can in the fire, I waited near the fire with my lever action 30-30, cradled in my arms for the imagined bears to come try something. After a while, I started feeling silly for being fearful, and leaned the unchambered gun on a nearby tree and reached for the guitar and the whiskey then proceeded to give the wilderness and bears a concert under the stars which lasted for several hours. Once my fingers and voice got tired,I spent another hour watching the millions of stars (dark night/no moon) and started feeling a bit sleepy. So I crawled in the back of my tiny truck camper and slept soundly for the next 7 hours.

Overall the experience was a beautiful reaquaintence with the wilderness, and I fully plan to reaquaint myself every weekend before the snows hit. Camping solo with a dog is the way to go in my book!