Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Trespassing Prey – Part 2

 An adoring fan (I kid) inadvertently encouraged me to put up more of this story I wrote a number of years ago. You can find the introduction here, if you’re so inclined. In the interest of avoiding a 12-post series, this section is lengthy. It’s also from a less succinct period of my life. I seek forgiveness.

As always, the first kilometre was tough, finding a rhythm and warming our muscles up to the idea of a good deal of work ahead.  We breathed the air in deeply, enjoyed the scent, shared our excitement, and thought about cougars.  For a while, we used a good deal of energy avoiding baby frogs that were making the journey from their nesting place to their new marshy home. They lightly hopped across the trail.  We enjoyed their energetic movements and cracked up about being easily distracted, lacking diligence in our attention to potential cougars.

After a brief break at the three-kilometre mark, we hiked on.  Here, the real work began, the climb became much steeper, which I hate, and covered with small fallen trees, which drove us crazy.  Every fallen tree required a strategy.  Most were a metre or more off of the trail – too high for either of us to straddle, very difficult to go under with a full backpack. We were further delayed because we had to stand around and complain before and after, again and again.  Luckily, a cougar did not choose such an opportune time – with one of us caught under a tree – to come sniffing.

Along the way, we fantasized semi-seriously that if a cougar were to attack us we could slay it with ease using the knife provided by Beth’s dad.Beth would keep the head as a trophy.  In a stroke of serendipity, the cougar would be female and lactating, to ensure that I could have some milk afterwards, for my stomach. Especially in the absence of my stomach medication – yes, that’s right, in my late night stupor the stomach pills had not made it into the backpack. Sigh.  This tidy cougar-hunting scenario amused us for quite some time as we hiked, satisfied with our plans.

After another 5km or so consisting of fallen trees, steep terrain, the inconvenient realization that I’d also forgotten my cell phone and our ride wouldn’t know when to pick us up, the trail levelled off and we came to a clearing with a cabin, thus concluding the lower portion of the hike.  We intended to drop off our wares, do the second leg of the trail and come back down to the cabin to sleep.  Our plans were foiled somewhat. The cabin itself did not have hospitality written on it – anywhere.  It was dank and dark, and seemed to host many visiting/nesting/pillaging creatures. Our tent was far more appealing and we set up camp in a nearby clearing.

But first, we had to find the trail to the peak of Mt. Cartier, which would apparently make the arduous hike entirely worth it.  Everyone had told us that after the cabin, the trail continues, but try as we might, we found nothing. We could go no further without a severe fight with some devil’s club.  After a number of attempts, we despairingly gave up on reaching the peak and glimpsing the fantastic view of the entire valley. No cabin, no peak, no view.

We didn’t pout for long before we quickly set to work making our home.  The sun shone, I started building a fire, and Beth, wielding the cougar knife, began preparing our tent site.  Each of us was quite happy to do our work. We pitched our tent, enjoyed the view and our dinner in the sun and chatted about nothing particular. Though it was most certainly on my mind, we still had not talked about the date. We were holding a stubbornness contest and neither of us wanted to be the first to bring it up.

After dinner I took it upon myself to figure out how to get our food and toiletries up a tree so that no bear would make us into a grocery store.  I threw everything in a garbage bag, tied a rope around it and looked fruitlessly for THE TREE.  Very few of the trees had unobstructed branches that I could manage to get the rope around. But oh how I tried. People always made this sound so easy when giving “bear aware” instructions, how hard could it be?  Very, apparently.

Eventually I picked a target, setting my sights on a branch approximately 5 metres above my head.  I wished myself luck, cocked my arm back, and threw the rope as hard as I could.  In a moment lacking triumph of any kind, the rope peaked a metre below the branch and fell limply to the ground at my feet.  Not to be deterred, I tried again, with a similar result.  I had no more success the third time.  Or the fourth.  I quickly became frustrated; my patience for my own failures is quite limited. I had no hope in hell of getting that garbage bag up to somewhere that a bear could not reach.  The fallen trees that we had been cursing along the hike now seemed very appealing – at least I could stand on one.

So I settled for an even lower branch, perhaps two metres above my head.  Pathetic.  I threw the rope, angry at my failure, hit the branch and almost knocked myself in the head with the rope as it came back down.  We were sure to be robbed tonight.  But refusing to sink further into patheticness, I threw the rope again and thankfully (for my self esteem), it came down on the other side of the branch.  So I pulled the rope, heaving the garbage bag mightily into the air before relishing in my heroic moment. I had Amazon woman strength.  Proud, I lowered my gaze from the glorious branch and looked straight ahead.  Sigh.  My heart sank.  The bottom of the garbage bag hung directly in front of my eyes.  Any heroism left in my feeble body was swiftly deflated.  How lame!  A two-month-old squirrel could have used the bag as a piñata.  I might as well have left a stick beside it to make things easy.  Alas, I assumed that this was better than having the bag in our tent and gave up, shamed and perplexed.

Exhausted and fearful of getting attacked (by mosquitoes as much as by cougars) we crawled into our tent to start one of those classic too early to sleep sleepover-type discussions. Beth’s mind, like mine, is over-active at night and we both struggled to find even a fitful rest.  I had silly dreams about dates and frogs and cougars and woke up every ten minutes changing positions. Every time Beth’s foot kicked the corner of the tent, the opposite corner, at my head, would pucker and scare me, waking me up frightened and sleepily alert. Beth got even less sleep than I did, disturbed by my kicks and tossing and turning at every sound and silence.

In the morning, we woke to a warm tent.  The daylight brought with it, as it always seems to, a sense of relief and safety.  We were alive.  Not even our toes had been gnawed off, and though uncomfortable and tired, we woke in good spirits, pleased with our adventure. This air of reassurance unfortunately was soon challenged by my physical condition.  The warm tent, the excitement, the lack of my usual milk remedy and stomach medication was starting to take its toll.  In search of some soothing protein, I found and delved into some peanuts.  I’m not sure where the peanuts came from because the food was supposed to be hung, but they were there and I ate them desperately.

Regardless, I was soon rushing to unzip the tent – the date’s tent, conveniently.  I mostly managed to direct the pathetic contents of my stomach away from the tent but to my horror was not completely successful. Is it a bad omen to throw up on the tent of the person you went out with 36 hours previous? Between “moments” I managed to get dressed and go sit by the fire pit to spare Beth any more of my scent.  I did my best to feel better, eating and throwing up alternately, while she packed up our entire camp without complaint.

… Stay tuned for trespassing, paranoia AND police.

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November 21, 2011 - Posted by | Doing it the hard way, Hiking, Wild Animals, Writing | , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Great story, Rose! Love your description of trying to throw the rope. I’m not very patient either. I tried to read the intro, but the link seemed not to work. When I click on it, I’m told that I am “lost” and given the option of searching for the post, which I can’t do, since I don’t know what it’s called. Maybe you can include the intro link with the next part of the story. Hope you’re Monday is going well, my friend!
    Kathy

    Comment by Kathryn McCullough | November 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Gah! Thanks, for pointing that out, and quickly I might add. It’s all fixed up now. I’ve got a case of the sleepy Mondays, but things are turning around. Have a good week!

      Comment by Rose | November 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. Such a long bout between Part 1 and Part 2! 🙂 The suspense nearly killed me.

    Comment by Dana | November 22, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, I can imagine you pining away at home over the delay – haha.

      Comment by Rose | November 22, 2011 | Reply


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