In the good old days we set up camp in our favorite campsite every October. It was a secluded cul-de-sac in the woods by the Little river with all the pretty rocks. We had an elaborate camp; a mess tent and a sleeping tent with a tarped-off foyer in between. The other guys laughed at our “doilies”, but it was just colorful afghans over the sleeping bags. It was about as comfortable as tent camping gets. We had a woodstove, a shower and port-a-potty. No hairdryer. That was the worst part.
Mr. Raven would wake up well before dawn, stoke the fire and get coffee going. I stayed cozy in my sleeping bag, lulled by the hiss of the lantern until the tent warmed up and coffee was ready. After a leisurely hour, it was boots and saddles. We didn’t have horses, but Mr. Raven always said “Boots and saddles!” when it was time to load up the truck and go.
“To the peak, Zeke!” He always said as we drove through the still dark forest, headed for Lick Creek or Skookum or maybe Old Stove road. It depended on where the other guys were going. We knew all the other guys that camped nearby. Same bunch, every year. Grandpas and dads and their sons and brothers; they’d all been hunting together since Mr. Raven was a kid. A few wives came along, but they were wives who stayed in camp all day.
People used to think I went along to do the cooking. Are you kidding? The guys did all that. I went for the camping and the chance to be outdoors with my husband for two weeks, away from work and kids. At first I didn’t imagine I’d actually become a hunter. But he bought me a lever action Winchester 30-30 and he taught me how to shoot and, turns out, I’m a pretty good shot.
Remember when I found that horse? Remember when Marvin fell in the river? Remember that couple that lived in a teepee? Remember the sheep herders’ dog? Remember that spike elk that looked like a red-eyed devil? Remember that time it snowed so much we had to wake up every hour to clear the tent roof? Remember that year the Forest Service burned us out?
I miss that old hunting camp. Lots of good memories, down there by the Little river with all the pretty rocks. Those were the good old days.