As I recently posted, one of the empowering aspects of primitive camping is that one prepares for any and all contingencies. Despite this, I always forget something even if it’s on a list and I’ve checked it off. July of 2014 it was Mak’s dish. Here he eats out of the makeshift one I cut from the bottom of a bottle.
It was the height of summer heat but there’s a field coat on the tailgate along with a water bottle and a can of bear spray. There’s a rain hat and a locking job site box to stow gear… …A brief break in the rain enabled me to hang wet clothes to dry and snap this shot of me under the tarp while a wet campfire burns itself dry. Much of the gear schlepped along, like all that junk in the milk crates, is for truck contingencies, breaking down or getting stuck.Sure enough the rain resumed and heavy enough to catch the flash in droplets under the roof. You can see it gushing off the far corner of the tarp.No matter. Mak and I were snug……even when the temp dropped.Rain, snow, heat, bugs, whatever. Given the chance, I’ll be out there with my dogs living it. December 2006
Every morning when I wake and night before bed I cuddle Mak. It’s good for him and for me. Cuddling and togetherness releases oxytocin, a hormone all mammals have that fosters emotional bonding and connection… and by extension loyalty, I would surmise.
Oxytocin is released after sex, which makes sense from a biological point of view. I must have lots of it having had two wives who’ve left despite my best efforts. I’m perhaps more loyal than biologically smart. And with all those punk songs about loyalty, my life-long search for a long lasting great romance, well, maybe I’ve got straight oxytocin flowing in my veins.
Though it’s not Heroes ‘N Pirates style, one can actually buy a necklace that represents the oxytocin molecule, (and science is H&P style). This is such a cute idea.
Several places offer them for sale. Here’s one:
A couple images to go with The Rabbles wonderful melody. It really is a journey. Mak looks back, July 2014.
This part of the trail was made mostly by cross country skis. It was a bit narrow to walk but as long as we stayed on the trail we were fine. Mak lunges ahead… Looking for a spot, we veered off the trail. Mak was not too happy about the idea. Neither of us had snowshoes (With those sharp crampon spikes, they’re such a hassle to carry when not in use.) and I was sinking in snow well beyond my knees with each step. But I wanted to go off trail to the crest of a hill. Though I tried to climb in as straight a line as possible frequently stopping to rest, Mak decided this snow-to-the-floorboards stuff just wasn’t for him and tried to head back to the trail two or three times. He had to leap frog and churn around then stoped for a moment here. But he’s so eager, he’s the first dog that didn’t resign himself to just following in dad’s footsteps. That behavior sucks ’cause then, if you’ve got snowshoes, they’re constantly stepping on them and neither of you can move. But nope, he had to be ahead, even if he had no idea where we were going. I caught this shot of him leap-frogging just as his hind end was clearing the deep stuff. I was waaay over-dressed, sweating with my coat hanging open. In the background is a limb of the broken oak, our fire spot. The darkest horizontal swoosh is the ice-covered log I chose to sit on. It was about a foot under the level of snow and in front of it I dug a large crater down to bare leaves. Mak sitting in the falling snow couldn’t believe his bad luck, another fire!?Yup, sorry pal. I got it started, with him slowly getting covered by snow and shivering. This hike and fire were okay for me but I’m hardcore with that stuff. No one else I know would have wanted to be there, particularly without snowshoes.
With the knife I shaved off the ice and damp outer layer of the oak branches and it wasn’t long before I was ready to bring him to my side. Whenever a fledgling fire is at risk of being doused by a careless step, I keep him lined “out of range.” The snow came down hard and fast most of the afternoon. You can see a few flakes here in the flash… …and on my coat, even on him in the back ground. Heroes ‘N Pirates hasn’t entered the realm of high tech clothing yet… and probably never will. Wearing steaming, soaked jeans and work boots. The fire was too big, hot and close to the thin log I was sitting on, but in the short time I had there wasn’t time to move things around. Worse for both of us was that the smoke was drafting into our faces. Mak was very uncomfortable so we left sooner than I otherwise might. Buried in a pile of snow and steaming, we leave the remnants behind.As we continued back the way we came, I knew was confirming to myself that if people centuries ago could live much harder lives, at least I could do this. But I admit, with joints aching, I had to push myself in the deep snow. Below, Mak leaned into the line for the next smell on the railroad tracks. Small wet grains picked up by the flash, they accumulated on my hood. Below epaulets my coat is soaked… but open. I was sweating, hips and knees sore. Another night in the woods.We were both very glad to arrive into the living room! Soft, civilized weaklings? Agreed. But offer a month or year of trying to live that way and I’d jump at the chance.
Posted in Dogs, Living In Step With Nature, my life, pit bull
Tagged camp fire, campfire, dogs, hike, nature, pit bulls, snow hike, winter
Sip a coffee, enjoy this rollicking melody and think five days…
Yup, right there. I was surprised no one stopped to tell us we couldn’t have a fire but people whizzed by without expecting to see what they saw. It wasn’t exactly remote, but at 80 Roger’s health put him beyond tackling deep snow with snow shoes. In any event only ten or fifteen cars went by in the time we were there; I’d guess maybe an hour and a half.Not that we didn’t try to find a better place. All told I put close to a hundred miles on the truck that day. A fair bit of that was wandering and looking for a more remote, suitable place. Anywhere was cleared to be truck accessible was a driveway. None of the rest areas or pull-offs were plowed, let alone jeep trails. But we chatted as we wound down tiny back roads in hopes of finding a spot. That in itself was worthwhile.We made the best of it. Picnic-ing by the side of the road – real 1950s stuff. Food was beans, turkey hot dogs on whole wheat with spicy mustard, muenster cheese, dried cranberries. The food was heated on the Coleman dual fuel stove. Roger had fortified us with coffee and biscuits before leaving his place.I’d guess the temp was about 15 Fahrenheit, much colder there than other places we’d been that day, plus there was a steady wind off the wetland behind me. I didn’t have pre-heat paste and the stove was too cold to light, so I stuffed a paper towel under the brass generator tube and by the time that burned off, the stove lit right up. We’re not looking to repeat this. Both of us have better places for a fire at home. But it was an experience.
I left Mak toasty in the heated truck, while in Roger’s warm kitchen we had more coffee and corn bread. Olive, one of Roger’s cats, sauntered in for a visit.I was impressed with Roger. Not many people at 80 would be up for that type of thing. We had a nice time, got out of the house for fresh air and a bit of a road trip. Not a bad Saturday afternoon.
My body and pathetic “training” remind me how much mileage I’ve accrued. I want to be forever young to keep kicking ass! Here’s the best version I’ve yet heard of “Forever Young.” Thanks to Exit of the Czech Republic for this energetic beat and delivery.
From the same genius who brightened out lives with the ultimate dog tease check out this hilarious installment:
My first vet told me not to alter my dog’s evolutionarily designed endocrine system unless there’s a very clear medical reason to do so. He articulated my own reservations about spaying and neutering. Reading Ted Kerasote’s, Pukka’s Promise, confirmed the belief. I discovered this video link indictment of wholesale mindless elective surgery (that actually mentions Kerasote).
I was involved in dog rescue for years and totally agree with the need to minimize unwanted dogs, yet that belief does NOT conflict with keeping dogs intact. Most dogs in Europe remain intact and unwanted pregnancies are nowhere near what they are in the states. Let’s do our canine friends a service and replace altering their endocrine system with responsible supervision and ownership. Loving and responsible dog care for both the individual and the species starts with us: