Fun Monday #23, Summer Memory 1969

Today's is being hosted by Jenni at Prairie Air. (Boy, could I rhyme a fun Limerick with that.) Her instructions:

ur mission, should you choose to accept it:
Share one or more of your favorite summertime memories with us. It can be a childhood memory or more recent. The memory can be a vague conglomeration of how you spent summers past (catching fireflies, playing outside till dark, watermelon seed wars) or it can be a detailed memory of a specific event. You may write a poem or short story or just tell it like it was. The main idea is to communicate the essence of summer and what symbolizes the season in words and/or pictures.

My contribution once more strays slightly from the rules. The following is a most unfavored summertime memory - but I hope it will be a favorite for you. Join the other participants and their memories by clicking here.

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Mom spent her first 19 years as an itinerant worker. Dad was a self-described hobo for almost as many when they met. When they said “I DO” I believe they were promising each other to love, honor, obey and to never cook over another campfire, pack another tent, or sleep on the ground again. We, therefore, were not a camping family.

Fast forward to the summer of 1969. I, their youngest child, accepted an invitation to visit my older sister Sandra who lived in Bozeman, Montana.

My brother in law Brent loved to back pack. Sis was learning. I was eager for a promised weekend exploration with them and some of their friends into the Bridger Mountains. The lack of experience and proper equipment was of no concern. Sleeping high in the sky under the stars enticed me.

The plans altered when Brent was called in to work. Their friends said I was welcome to accompany them.

Sandra showed me how to pack the essentials such as extra socks. I had new sneakers but no hiking boots.

“Food is more important than mascara,” Sandra insisted, and I petulantly removed hairspray, rollers, and lipstick. (Teenagers!)

When we finally hit the trail I was with four strangers: their friend, his two (younger than me) teenage daughters, and his pre-teen son.

It was a beautiful Montana Sky and a trail that climbed straight up towards it. By the time we hit five miles I was pee- oh -oh- pee - eee – dee, POOPED.

The rest of them stopped and stared when I removed my pack and dropped to the ground to examine my blisters.

“I think I need to go back,” I panted.

That would have been a great time to have a cell phone, but they weren’t invented yet.

“If you go back to the car,” the man told me, “you might have to wait there for two days.”

So, he picked up my back pack and carried it on top of his for the rest of the climb. By the time we reached the chosen camp spot I was feeling terribly guilty and quite a bother.

After setting up my sleeping space and being a drag on their efficient dinner routine, I was relieved that the sunset allowed me to skulk and slither into my bag. There I shivered all night from the high elevation cold, lay on seventy-jillion sharp rocks, and resisted the urge to go relieve myself because I was scared spitless.

The four of them greeted the morning with the same competent and eager attention they had displayed the previous day. In short order they were ready for the day hike on their agenda. (I kept my thoughts to myself –hadn’t we hiked enough already?)

The back packs were staying and I thought I could handle a hike just fine. An hour in, the trail narrowed and curved up a steep cliff.

“Are we going to cross that?” I questioned with disbelief.

One of the girls waved her hand at me as though she was dismissing my fears and replied, “We’ve done it bunches of times!”

The little boy smirked.

I followed them slowly, one foot in front of the other, trying not to look at the 300 foot drop off. Then the path literally disappeared and I watched them find foot holds on rocks and dig their fingers into solid ones above their heads pressing their bodies flat against the sharp slope.

“Hey you guys,” I called , and heard my voice echo on a canyon wall. “I can’t do this, I’m going back to the campsite.”

After assuring them I could find my way back, I slid on my behind sideways until I was away from the ledge.

I made a few wrong turns and read “lost hiker” headlines in my worried thoughts.

The campsite finally came into view on the wrong side of the canyon. Rather than retrace my steps I chose to trudge through some nasty looking brush and trees growing atop another steep drop off.

I was halfway across when the tangled alpine trees and brush began thrashing violently. The sudden pounding of my frightened heart drowned out the rustling of an approaching beast. This was Grizzly country so I prepared to throw my body off the cliff into the frigid water below. When it broke through into the clearing, a beautiful 8-point buck looked at me with disdain, turned gracefully and disappeared over a ridge.

I poured to the ground in a puddle of relief. Picking myself up to finish the trek, I vowed to never leave the campsite again.

They hiked again the next day, but I remained with the rocks by the lake shore. Any memories of the hike back to the car and drive home are a blur.

I never backpacked again.


Devon said…
I loved reading your story! I have backpacked a lot, mostly due to the fact that hubby loves it. I recall many sleepless nights when I have to pee but am too terrified to leave the tent!

One time hubby and I were sleeping in our tent in the middle of absolute no where, when a herd of something ran through our camp for about ten minutes brushing up against our tent. There were a ton of hoof prints the next morning.

The best part of backpacking is seeing the truck on your hike back!
Little Miss Moi said…
Dear pamela. oohhh that sounds just awful! I would have been scared spitless the whole time - sometimes the elements can psyche one out, especially when you're around a bunch of strangers! I have to say, it sounds like it would have been beautiful, scenery-wise..?
Susie said…
What an adventure! I was sure it was a bear in the bushes and quite relieved that it was a deer. I don't like getting up in the night to go in the bushes either. That's why we now "camp" in an RV!
mjd said…
Oh Pamela,
You were much braver than I would have been. Although seeing a buck is better than seeing a Grizzly, that would scare me too.
Gattina said…
Lol ! great experience ! I would have acted exactly like you ! I only like camping when the tent is built up and I don't have to move or do anything !
Christine said…
What an experience. I loved reading your story. I love hiking, and that was the first thing I thought, I hope she had the right boots! Seeing a buck must have been a sight.
You won't catch me peeing in the dark. My luck I'd trip over a rock and break something.
Sorry you had an awful time, but it made for a great story to tell. :)
Beccy said…
I love that post Pamela, I love hiking, and loved camping as a child although you'd never find bears in our habitat.
Peter said…
Hi Pamela, I'm pretty sure we enjoyed that backpacking trip more than you did!!!!!!!!!!
swamp witch said…
I kept waiting for that typical ending my students always tried to use..."and then I woke up."
Your story was very funny and very sad. Sad, because hiking and camping can be a wonderful experience - I think the trick is to have control over your activities. I had a horrible trip once with some German who travelled the course of the Main river. They marched and we got 3.6 minute breaks and it snowed and was cold and there was no time to stop and enjoy the Landscape (Landschaft). WhenI go camping I make sure to go where I want when I want and only for as long as I want. This makes a big difference!
Shelby said…
and to that I would say, "me neither!"

wonderful story! :)
Debs said…
I am not a fan of back packing or camping. Ewwwww!
Karmyn R said…
Hee hee -

I think Dave might be thinking the same thing this morning (13 mile trek - 8 hours to get to the lake) all uphill. He's exhausted and skinny.
Shelby said…
it's me again...

I tagged you! I hope you don't mind doing memes... come see..
my4kids said…
That does sound aweful! I have gone on hikes since I was a kid but never with my family. My parents weren't into camping and such so I always had friends who did. I'm not fond of anything I have find my footing and dig my hands to keep from falling 300 feet though! That would be a bit much for me....
Beckie said…
I think Kudos to you for going in the first place. It sounds like it had some fun moments (along with the not so fun).
tlawwife said…
1st off - I HATE peeing outside!!!!!

My father, sister, grandfather etc used to go packing on horseback into the mountains. Terry wanted to go sooo bad. He asked if I didn't want to go and I told him when they put a Holiday Inn up there I would go. Never happened. I do love cooking over a fire though. Mostly because Terry does the cooking.
Jenni said…
Oh no! No wonder you never went again. I was scared for you just reading it. You lived to post about it though. And a good post it is. Sorry for not getting you included in the list earlier.
Melissa said…
OY, Pamela! That's a great story, and I share your horror at sleeping in the great outdoors. *shudder* I haven't been camping since I was eleven. Still hate it.
Tiggerlane said…
What a great story - you and I have an official date to NOT go hiking or backpacking. I went hiking with my husband during our first months of dating, and slid down a hill on my behind - just b/c I couldn't handle it any other way.

I HATE hiking. Or Un-hiking, as I do it.
min said…
I love hiking and camping, but that's just me. I'm with purple worms on this one.
wolfbaby said…
Sounds crazy.. painful.

I think I might have enjoyed it in my younger years;)
willowtree said…
Amen Sister! Just one more reason why camping should be illegal.
Kaytabug said…
What a good post! My parents and Grandparents never took me camping... well only in an RV... that doesnt count. I feel ya! I did however enjoy backpacking in Germany when I was 18! We slept in youth hostels! Hey,that happened in the summer too! Yet another wonderful summer memory of mine!
I wouldn't know the first thing about camping. Your story was a treat!
C said…
That sounds like sheer torture. But I would have hiked again. I walked a 3 day avon walk once that nearly kicked my butt.
nikki said…
I hate camping. Shall we form a club? The anti-campers.
Hayden said…
A brutal first trip! I can't believe they let you go w/ no clue what you were getting into!
Marti said…
Wow, what a great story - thanks for sharing!

Best wishes for a glorious Independence Day!
Susie Q said…
A wonderful story and how I wish I had been, or was now, a good outdoorsperson! I went camping and hiking a time or two and was so bad at it all. I guess I am doomed to do my camping at Westin Hotels. Sad really.
Now, Bill had some real adventures camping. He awoke one night and had a small skunk asleep on his chest.
Now, how cozy is that? : )

Kila said…
I'm surprised--I would have pictured you as enjoying backpacking, outside with the birds...

I don't care for camping (seems like more work than enjoyment), but I love hiking.
Hazel said…
I love camping, hiking & most things outdoors...but carrying 1/3 of bodyweight on my back takes all the pleasure out of where I am & I only see the heavyness of life. Not fun.

I'm feelin' your pain.
Sunrunner said…
You poor woman!! That sounds scary! Why in the world did they take a new hiker on such advanced hikes???

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