Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Canis Unexpectedus or The Many Uses for a Water Bottle

Stover Creek Shelter 12/9/10

The bracing bite of winter’s darkness settled in on our first night in a shelter after an unsuccessful hour of tending a fire that preferred to smoke uncontrollably rather than give off any serviceable heat. As newbies, Pete and I tossed in our bags uncomfortably, disturbingly aware of the lack of a fourth wall and our exposure to the night.

In silence the minutes ticked away as we waited in the loft of the shelter for absent sleep to pay us a visit.

Crunch, crunch, crunch…the crisp dead leaves alerted us to the presence of someone or something else at our camp.

“What is that?”

“It sounds too big to be a raccoon.”

“I don’t think it’s a bear.”

“It sounds like a dog.”

“We’re in the middle of nowhere. It can’t be a dog.”

Thump, click, click, thump…

“It’s in the shelter now!”

Our mystery four legged companion weathered a windy and restless night with us, and as morning broke, we debated what do to.

“I really have to pee.” I whisper to Pete.

“So, pee.”

“I can’t. It’s still down there. I hate you. You can pee out the window.”

But, as we heard the animal begin to move for the day, I timidly peeked over the edge of the loft to see a brown and white speckled fox hound trot away from the shelter with a bounce to his step that seemed to taunt me and my needless fear.

“It was a dog, an freaking actual dog!”

How unusual. How unexpected.

As I climbed down the ladder to gratefully relieve myself just outside of the perimeter of our bear free campsite, I pondered some of the trail’s lessons: there is no usual, there is no expectation. Anything can and will happen. It was a dog today. For many other campers, it has been a bear snooping about the tree cables to see if he can get an easy meal. It might be a bear for us next time. All you can do is be prepared, be aware, and be willing to laugh at yourself and your fear the next morning.

That, and now I have one less Nalgene for water and one new container for those annoying night time pee breaks.

1 comment:

  1. That shelter looks really nice! Sorry about the unexpected visitor!