Sunday, July 10, 2005

Wilderness Family

Friday morning I got off work and went home to pack for a weekend of backpacking with my family. I met up with my sisters and dog-nieces. We drove to the town of Drummond, about 50 or 60 miles away, where we met my dad. My mom was unable to come since she had too much work to do. I rode with my dad for another 20 or 30 miles to the town of Phillipsburg (Home of The Sweet Palace). We made candy store & malt shop stops before heading out into the wilds.

It was in the 90's (temperature-wise) when we began our trek through the Anaconda-Pintlar Wilderness. We hiked for a few hours before stopping to read the map and make some dinner in a mosquito infested swamp meadow. Once settled into our meal of rehydrated spaghetti and peanut butter pie (pretty good for a powdered meal in a bag), Dad and #2 Sister began to discuss the possibility that we were lost. It was decided that we should pitch our tents in the swamp meadow before trying to move on or find our way. The news of our wrong turn which led us on the path to current nowhere was broken gently to #1 Sister and I. I suggested that when we backtrack in the morning, we just backtrack all the way to The Sweet Palace. #1 Sister suggested the lake we had passed on the road to the trailhead. We weren't poor sports, really, just a couple of tuckered out kids who'd been eaten alive by vampire mosquitoes. Dad said we'd discuss the matter later.

Somehow we never got around to voting on our backtrack destination that next morning. A few minutes into our backward detour, someone suggested that getting back on the right trail would best be achieved by climbing straight up the side of a fallen tree strewn mountain. Several hours and a few pant-rips later, we found our trail, where 10,000 bloodsucking insects were kind enough to wait for our arrival. My sisters and I fantasized about meeting strangers armed with DEET. #2 Sister had come prepared with lots of pleasant smelling natural insect repellents at the smell of which, every mosquito in the forest promptly erupted in laughter. #2 Sister said she would offer $10 for real bug spray. I said I would barter my digital camera, and as the afternoon progressed, my soul. (I was only kidding about my soul).

Meanwhile, Dad had been promising us for 2 dank, steep miles that "The Meadow" was just another 300 yards away. The Meadow was where we would stop and rest. He made good on his last promise all right, but someone had beat us to it. Further investigation revealed 2 friendly faces with horses (and horses with faces) bearing gifts: AN INDUSTRIAL-SIZED CAN OF BUG SPRAY. We invited ourselves into their camp and sat down for cheese, sausage and cracker lunch with our new friends for life. It turns out that our new friends for life may have lied to us, but I didn't really care because, for a few blissful hours, the mosquitoes flew in another direction.

Eventually we got back on the trail and still more eventually, we reached our destination:
Hoodwink Lake*, at the base of Swindle Peak* in the Anaconda-Pintlar Wilderness

We camped there overnight. Dad and #2 Sister went fishing. Dad lost part of his collapsible fishing pole in the lake, but caught a little Mr. Fishy. #1 Sister and I napped and made Mad Libs. The next morning, Dad made blueberry griddlecakes with strawberry syrup and we packed up and headed for home. Home (the car) was further away than we thought, but we made it. Dad took us out for lunch. We were all excited to use the bathrooms. When it came my turn, there was one toilet on the verge of overflow and one occupied. While I waited for the occupied one to clear, another lady came in and used the on the verge toilet. As I was finishing up my business in the next stall, the on the verge toilet was flushed and was no longer on the verge, but in full on overflow mode. The lady screamed and ran. I dodged the flood and even managed to wash my hands.

Another hour or so's drive brought us home, where all I wanted to do was shower and shave. Sadly, I ran out of body wash mid-shower. Well, half clean & shaven is better than not, I reckon. Now it's off to work, but tomorrow I'm turning my film in to be developed! You have not heard (or seen) the end of this journey, I'm afraid.

I had to show you a picture so you wouldn't think I was just being a
whiney baby. I look like an ad for acne arm...or armne.

I think that, if you ask me in a few days--when the swelling goes down and the hunchback disappears and the happy feet return--I will say it was definitely all worth it. If nothing else, it is worth it to have stories to tell the children I would have had before being rendered barren by one too many log-straddles.

*The real names of these locations are of course, Tamarack Lake and Warren Peak. But after cheating my sisters out of a hot-day swim (I forgot to tell you it rained) and myself out of no less than 3 s'mores, I thought they deserved to be rechristened.


El Padrino said...

Armne? Great word. It must be from all that magnetic poetry.

ed said...

Great word. Sick condition. I also have a lovely case of anklene and waistne.

lance said...

That is possibly the most terrible case of mosquito bites I've seen. It looks like chicken pox. I hate those things. We stopped going to Holland Lake because of the mosquitos.

It's funny that just this weekend up at Flathead Lake, my mom was commenting on the lack of bugs in Montana, and really there weren't many up at Flathead. I guess they all went to the ed party in Pintlers.