In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Adirondack Mountains - Part II

If you missed Part I you can catch up here

The night before I'd attempted to hang by backpack from a tree to keep it away from any prowling bears but it was nearing dark by the time I got around to the task. After some frustration that ended it nearly getting clobbered by a large falling branch that was much more rotted then it looked like when it was 20 feet in the air I just left my pack next to the tree a couple hundred yards from camp and figured if something wanted what was inside they could have at it. When I awoke the next morning the first thing I did was retrieve the pack since it had my breakfast in it. I was relived to find it right where I'd left it, unmolested. At first it appeared not damage had been done to it until I got it back to camp and started retrieving things out of it. Then a found a small little hole a mouse had chewed through one of the compartments so he could get at the zip lock baggy full of trail mix on the other side, which also had a small hole torn in it.

There was no way I was going to let some little mouse get the best of me. I'd mixed that trail mix myself since it's way cheaper then buying it pre-mixed and I wasn't about to throw my profits away. Besides, I doubt he actually got inside the bag and any mouse turds could easily be dismissed as small bits of raisins. I dumped the trail mix into a fresh baggy and repacked it before cooking myself some mushrooms and eggs for breakfast. After I finished eating I cut some more wood to leave behind and headed towards the lean to at Pillsbury lake where I'd spend the next day. I really hoped I'd find it vacant when I arrived.

It was looking like a pretty nice day. Much cooler then it had been just a couple days prior and a little overcast and windy, but great weather for hiking. On my way back to Pillsbury I passed 2 ladies hiking the other way. These were to be the last people I'd see until I got back to the trail head the following day. Which of course means when I arrived at Pillsbury Lake I did in fact find the lean-to vacant. It wasn't outfitted quite as well as the other camp but it was just as sturdy of a structure and was on an even more beautiful lake with a better view.

As I started unpacking my gear I noticed a small squirrel watching me from a nearby stump as he munched on a nut. I pulled my hatchet out of the pack and shook it at him, telling him sternly that if he left my stuff alone we'd get along just fine and wouldn't have any problems. He just innocently kept on watching.

There were quite a few dead, long logs around the camp site so I set to cutting some of them up so I'd have firewood for that evening. After chopping a while I started to feel pretty tired and had a headache. I'd had a slight head ache through most of the morning and I thought maybe I was getting a bit dehydrated. I started drinking more water but the only difference it made was that I had to pee every 15 minutes.

I decided I'd lay down and take a nap for a while. Once I stopped moving I started to feel a bit chilly. The lean-to faced north so it didn't get any sun on the front of it and the woods blocked most of that anyway. The wind was coming from the NW down the lake and the lean-to was on a small hill which seemed to do a pretty good job of catching some of that wind, despite a few rows of trees between me and the lake.

I laid down in the lean to with my legs hanging over the edge and my feet touching the ground. I covered my legs with my jacket the keep warm and tried to go to sleep. I wasn't sleeping but was resting peacefully when it felt like the wind lifted my jacket a little and ruffled it. I knew it wasn't that windy though so I opened my eyes and lifted my head to see what was going on. When I did I found that little squirrel had crawled up my leg and was heading towards my pack! I yelled at him and clapped my hands to scare him away. The game was on and I laid back down smiling at the anticipation of competition.

About 10 minutes later I heard his scurrying footsteps on the roof on the lean-to and soon his head poked around the side right by my pack, just like a super hero (or super villain) he was walking along the walls now to avoid detection. It didn't work though and I had to chase him off again. I didn't like having to move to scare him away though so this time I sat up and found some small chunks for wood and sticks that I could throw at time. In another 10 minutes I had my chance when he came sneaking around the side again. I chucked a small stick at him and he ducked around the corner just before it would have hit him. We did this a couple more times and each time it got a little less fun and a little more annoying. After all, I was going to be here the whole rest of the day and I didn't want to put up with this the whole time.

It was nice to get a little rest but I never did get any actual napping in and I still had a headache. I got up and explored the area a little bit. There were a few places to get down to the lake for some nice views, it was a very attractive place. I was still pretty cold so I put on a couple more layers and my new wind block hat. I looked longingly at the opposite shoreline which was bathed in sunlight and would also be blocked from the wind. I just couldn't seem to get warm on my side of the lake.

With my headache I didn't really feel like doing anything and it wasn't much fun just sitting in the shade and wind so I popped a couple aspirin from my first aid kit and walked down the shoreline a little ways away. I hadn't seen my little “friend” the squirrel in a while so I was hoping he'd given up. Just in case, before I left, I made sure everything was tucked away in my backpack and I placed my already mouse infested bag of trail mix inside my cooking pan, put the lid on, and then precariously placed my pot for boiling water on top of that so any disturbance would cause it to tip over; hopefully either dissuading the villain or scaring him away.

Now that the sun was getting a little closer to the west I was able to find a nice sunny spot on the shoreline a little farther down from my camp site. I just stood there for about 5 minutes and soaked up the sun, it felt great. I was still pretty sleepy so I looked around and found a nice tree with a flat spot of ground next to it right in the sunshine. I managed to settle my butt into a comfortable position and leaned back against the tree. It felt really good to be sitting there in the sun. The only problem was that as soon as I started nodding off my head would fall forward and wake me up again. After being jerked awake by my falling head a half dozen times I gave up and found a semi-flat patch of dirt in the sun to lay down on. It might not have made for the most comfortable bed but the warm sunshine more then made up for it and I was asleep in no time. I slept soundly, and warmly, for about 45 minutes before waking up again.

I was really enjoying the sunshine and since the lean-to was still in the shade I retrieved the book I was currently reading and went back to lean against the tree in the sunshine and get some reading done. While I was back at the lean-to I noted that nothing had been disturbed in the hour or so that I was gone.

I was reading comfortably in the sun and thoroughly enjoying my book when I heard a metallic crash from the direction of the lean-to. It took me a couple seconds to realize that my trap had been sprung. I grabbed a handful of shrapnel (I'd now taken the shot gun approach instead of rifle approach) and ran as well as my knee would let me over to the lean-to. Just as I reached it the little bastard of a squirrel came squirting out of a crack in the wall and I fired away at him, spattering the wall next to him but missing any direct hits. He scrambled out of sight up a tree where I shook my fist at him and made menacing threats. I reset my trap and retired back to my tree for some more reading. Happily the aspirin, sunshine, and relaxation seemed to be doing a good job as my headache was finally gone.

I was engrossed my book when my train of thought was again broken by a sound that resembled claws on the bark of a tree. I looked around hoping to see a raccoon or something of the sort scurrying down a tree but I didn't see anything. As I was trying to figure out just what had caused the noise I started to wonder it maybe it wasn't my trap being sprung again. Even though that's not what it sounded like I figured it couldn't hurt to go back and check on my stuff. I sauntered back to the lean-to and as I rounded the corner I saw that damned squirrel high tail it out of there and my baggy of trail mix was torn into!

That little bastard! I don't know how he did it but somehow he managed to move the lid on the pot without tipping over the water pot. He moved it just enough that he could reach down inside and grab my bag of trail mix. He had a nice sized hole torn in it and had no doubt been stuffing himself with peanuts before I showed up. When I'd first gotten to camp I had only been joking when I threatened him with me hatchet but now I found my self envisioning how gratifying it would be to sneak up on him next time he got into my stuff and lop his ugly little head off. Maybe I'd even fry him up for dinner that night, in effect getting my lost peanuts back. There would sure be some satisfaction in that.

I walked to the tree he'd scampered up but was unable to see him up there anywhere. I still shook my fist up at the tree and uttered unimaginable threats at the little monster. It was clear I couldn't keep him out of my stuff so I picked up my pot of trail mix and back pack and carried them to the sunshine with me where I knew they'd be safe. I was grumbling to myself as I re-situated myself in the sunshine to do some more reading. I kept a supply of ammunition ready at my side should I see the little vermin within striking distance.

It was nearing dark by the time I finished reading so I picked my stuff back up and headed back to the lean-to to start cooking supper. I was still imaging frying that little turd over a spit as I got my fire going for the evening. As I started sauteing my vegetables for the evenings meal I saw him scampering across the ground and stop by the trunk of a tree. I picked up a rock and chucked it at him but he moved just it time as it harmlessly bounced into the bushes. I watched him climb a nearby tree and innocently watch me cook. I wished for laser eyes so I could fry his ass with just a look.

Before the light was totally gone for the evening I walked a couple hundred yards behind the lean to and found a nice place to hang my pack from the bears. Thankfully everything went a little smoother then the night before and I got it suspended in the air just fine. The only thing I worried about was my little rat with a furry tail friend finding his way into it. He seemed to retire with the sun though so I figured it was probably safe.

Dinner (chicken, rice, onions, and mushroom) cooked up to perfection and I kicked back and enjoyed my meal, finishing it off with a couple cups of hot chocolate before retiring for the night. I was amazed how many mice lived around the lean-to. They must make a pretty good life for themselves cleaning up after the campers who pass through. I could hear them everywhere and any time I walked around with the flashlight on I'd see scurrying shadows running back into the shadows.

I walked down to the waterfront to get a good look at the stars before the nearly full moon came up and washed most of them out. The lake was dead calm and the stars were as bright as could be. The surface of the water could have been mistaken for the night sky it was so flat and black. There was a perfect mirror reflection of the big dipper on the water and it looked just as bright as the real thing.

I finally retired for the evening and after getting used to the scuffling sounds of the mice under and around the lean-to I fell asleep for the night. I slept soundly through the night until I was woke up just before dawn by the nails on a chalkboard chattering from that hairy demon of the trees. Apparently he was up for the day and that meant I was up for the day too. I wanted to lay in my sleeping bag longer but figured I better go get my pack before the little pecker found it and dug into it again. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and stumbled up the hill to retrieve my bag, which was thankfully hanging just how I'd left it with no signs of squirrel invasion.

I got back to camp and got another fire cooking to warm myself up and make some hot chocolate. It was a gorgeous morning with the lake shrouded in fog and mist, lit up by the rising sun. I dug through my bag for the last of the food that I'd brought along and made myself a peanut butter and banana sandwich, which would provide me the energy to get back to the car at the trail head that afternoon. The fire and hot chocolate were warming me up nicely and it seemed a shame to eat a cold sandwich so I got my pan out and had myself a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. It was delicious and when it was done I spent some time walking around the lake shore and admiring the view.

Satin with buck teeth and a furry tail was back up to his old tricks again but I made sure I kept my treats well hidden and didn't leave them alone for too long at a time so he didn't stand a chance. As I stood admiring the lake view the loons began calling as they became active for the day.

By mid morning I was ready to head back to the car so I hurled my last few expletives at the little twirp and hit the trail again. I was amazed that even though it turned out to be a nearly perfect fall weekend I had hardly seen a soul out on the trails. I thought for sure a few other people would come to the lean-to I was using hoping to use it themselves but unless they came while I was sleeping there wasn't anyone. As a matter of fact I didn't see another soul until I hiked all the way back to the trail head.

I packed all my gear back in its designated spot and sat in my house mixing up another batch of trail mix and enjoying the sun when I heard some voices walking up the road. They were talking amongst themselves and as they came into site of the parking lot I heard one of them say, “Ooohhh, a mini-van!” in a sarcastic tone. What the hell!? Didn't he know that was my house he was talking about? Even though I had the drivers door open they couldn't see I was sitting there yet. I hollered back to them, “yeah a mini-van, you got a problem with that?” I said it in a joking tone though and ended with a laugh to they'd know I wasn't really upset by it.

They all laughed and looked a little sheepish at finding out the owner was sitting right there and had heard them. As they approached the trail head I asked if they were just getting in or just leaving. All I got was a short, “just leaving”. Trying to make a little conversation I asked how far they were heading, the leader of the pack just pointed at the sign for Pillsbury Mountain and said “to the top and back”. Apparently they weren't a real talkative group. If I'd have disparaged someone's house and been caught in the act and the owner wanted to be friendly I think I'd be inclined to give more then a simple, gruff, answer.

But apparently they didn't think the same way which allowed me to think disparaging thoughts about them as they set off on their hike. I watched them take pictures of the Pillsbury Mountain trailhead sign by itself and then watched them pose for pictures next to the sign. I couldn't help but wonder where they got off making fun of my house (the mini-van) as they posed for pictures before their monstrous 1.5 mile hike in which they'd gain a whole 1,000 feet, all the way up to 3600 feet at the peak!! These were the guys making fun of my house!?

In a way I was glad they brushed off my questions because now I could channel my nasty squirrel thoughts onto them. At least it gave me something to think about other then what I was going to eat next. I left the trail head parking lot still thinking sarcastic thoughts about them. As I drove down the dirt road I was curious what sort of bad ass outdoorsmobile the tremendous trio drove. I wouldn't have to wait too long to find out since there was another parking area just down the road.

As I rounded the corner I saw three vehicles parked in the lot, all of them Yippy vehicles (you know, a Yippy, cross between a hippy and a yuppy). I don't know which one belonged to the tremendous trio but everyone knows these are what today's generation of soccer mom's are driving; or maybe they couldn't decide who should drive so they all drove separately.

Either way I felt vindicated as I drove back to the main road and continued my journey to Maine. I had the whole rest of the glorious day ahead of me to think of witty, disparaging remarks towards the squirrel and the trio.

1 comment:

Edith said...

What a great story. I think we all have met people who think they are just above everyone else. You know squirrel does not taste to bad either.

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.