Wednesday 17 June 2015

You Shouldn’t Urinate Around Your Campsite

I love walking in the rain.
 Image result for walking in the rain
Well, not the getting wet part, that can be pretty irritating, and not when it is cold because you can feel your fingers and toes numbing as hypothermia creeps relentlessly through your body. I like to walk in the rain when I am either staying dry or mostly dry. It helps if it is a warm rain, but that is a pretty rare occurrence in Alberta.
For the better part of thirty years I would be walking outside whenever it would rain. I’d follow a set route, up one street and down the other side, walking up to each house with first, second or third class mail. Sometimes I would have a parcel or a registered letter and I would more than likely be carrying some form of junk mail. Pizza anyone? Getting wet was just a part of the job and if you were weather smart you could dress to stay just damp.

I used to do backpacking in my spare time and for the most part I avoided setting out when there was a threat of rain. You can’t always avoid it though and a couple of times I got very wet and very miserable.

My son Brendan and I set out to meet a group of backpackers once. Neither he nor I really knew where we were going and had listened half heartedly when told the directions to the back woods camp. Of course it started to rain shortly after we started the hike and the rain and we set in for an unpleasant day. We were headed to Little Baker Lake which our friends had gone to the day before. We spent the day slogging through mud puddles and every now and then, one of us would slip on a root and slam a knee or two to the ground.

The day just seemed to get more and more unpleasant the closer we got to our destination. We reached Little Baker Lake only to find that we should have been heading to Big Baker Lake. We sat down in the rain to discuss what we were going to do. There was no way we could make it today and neither of us seemed to have the will to push on in the morning. It turns out that Brendan only did the hike because I wanted to go and I only did the hike because I knew that Brendan wanted to go. SHIT!!! We decided then and there that the first thing in the morning we would head back to the car just as fast as our swollen knees would take us.

We had a hot something or other for supper in the rain and made an early night of it. Sleep was easy because we were so tired. In the middle of the night I heard a crash and then snuffling in our camp site. I stuck my head out of the tent and saw a large something just at the edge of my vision. I yelled “GET OUT! GET OUT! GO AWAY!!” to no avail. I tried to talk to Brendan but he was sound asleep. I got up and started a pot of water to boil since I was awake anyways.

Soon enough Brendan came out of the tent and sat with me. He was awake when I was yelling, but had thought I had lost my mind and was screaming at him to get out. Neither of us got any sleep for the rest of the night and in the morning I managed to tree the “beast”. The beast was a porcupine and it was interested in the salt sweated into the handle of my walking stick and clothing.
 Image result for porcupine
On the hike back to the car, we learned of other hikers that had their boots taken by the porcupines during the night and they had to backpack out in their camp shoes. Poor bastards.
 Image result for barefoot hiking
Thankfully our boots were in the tent with us and we learned a valuable lesson that night. If you are trying to protect your campsite from gigantic, salt seeking, rodents then you shouldn’t urinate around your campsite.

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