…and ups again. Like this sentence, it’s been a messy sort of a week or two. The last of the snow has melted, helped by some heavy rain and a rise(!) to below seasonal temperatures. Joy. It was calm following the rain, yet that’s when we lost power, somewhat inexplicably. Maybe a happy-for-the-sun squirrel popped out and accidentally and exuberantly chewed through a power line? Grounded…
With the calmer days, we’ve had some warmer afternoons and blue skies – why, one could almost be fooled into thinking spring is here and heavy winter rains will become sporadic light rain showers. It’s been pleasant to see the greys turn blue, and spy some fresh greenery poking through. Our walks are longer and drier – more time spent outdoors.
We’re mourning the passing of a campfire companion this week, a lovely guy who’s gone on to the next life far too soon. I didn’t know him very well. He was a campfire presence a few times on some of the wilderness trips we shared with youth. JT had a calm presence, and was happy to spend time quietly telling stories shot through with flashes of good humour. He’d led a tough life, particularly in his younger days, and told me he enjoyed being home the past few years, preferring it to the hustle and bustle of life away. People liked to stop and say hi to him when he was in town, and you could see he was a well liked figure here and across the bay. We’ll miss him.
I’ll leave it here for this week. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
A new way to keep fit, PlaidCamper style, or perhaps a new song by the Stones?
Nope, just what I saw on the shore one morning earlier this week. It’s been a week of misty mornings followed by sunny afternoons before the fog rolls in for the evening. A fairly reliable pattern for August – I mean Fogust – and very enjoyable too.
The fog has added a much needed sense of calm, or it does if I look at the water rather than the full to bursting parking lots. What’s with camping in your car when the lot signs clearly state no camping? Maybe I’m getting too old and too conformist. Can’t be too comfortable, trying to sleep in a vehicle not designed for it. I feel a rant coming on, and that’s not calming, so maybe we’ll keep it brief this week?
Here’s another misty one, lovely to look at and maintain some calm, seen on my misty morning strut around the harbours this week.
Yup, definitely a brief one this week – off I strut, thinking calm thoughts… Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!
At the end of the previous post, I wrote I wouldn’t be adding any more foodie pieces for the next little while. So, how to explain the title for this week? It’s even less interesting than you might imagine, and came to me as I sat here, itching.
Itching and scratching at the many, many mosquito bites I received on our recent trip to the backcountry. It was delightful to get far, far away from the business of summer season, but it was far, far less delightful to be the blood host for so many mosquitoes. They really liked me, and they seemed to enjoy the brand of bug repellent I used to little effect.
After a long dry spell, particularly dry for the PNW, it rained the day and night we set off. I think I made a brief reference to the rain last week? I don’t mind the rain, but this time it created lovely extra humid conditions, and so the lovely extra hungry mosquitoes popped out to greet us. What a lovely welcome! Lovely.
As well as learning that particular brand of DEET-free repellent is ineffective, I also learned that I’m not as good at putting up a tent in the dark as I thought I was. I slipped and bent one of the two important tent poles (one of only two tent poles), when my knee and overall body weight combined to crush one of the ends. Lovely.
With the mosquitoes buzzing encouragement in both my ears, and the rain falling oh so gently in the fading light, I believe I must have looked a picture of complete happiness. Being an independent minded sort – that’s code for bloodyminded and too stubborn to ask for help at that moment – I managed to push the broken end of the pole into a soft bank of earth, sorted the tent fly (fly? FLY?! I think they mean tent mosquito sheet I might have been heard muttering, serenity personified…) and pegged everything down. A job well done, OldPlaidCheerful having fun floating on a cloud of happiness and bug spray, desperately hoping the makeshift solution would keep out the rain.
It did. I stayed wonderfully dry, and stayed wonderfully entertained trying to track down the mosquito that also wanted to stay wonderfully dry. It was wonderfully well fed, taking another bite or two. Wonderful.
Anyway, not a food piece this week, more a return to being an almost outdoorsman, and I do believe I’m wiser for all the stumbling about in near darkness. I certainly won’t be buying that bug friendly spray again. So yes, very much wiser.
I think I’d best stop now. I enjoyed this minor rant, but all whining (like a mosquito) aside, I did genuinely enjoy being in a tent after far too long not camping. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Last week, witnessing the eagles tucking into fresh – or not so fresh as the week wore on – seal, I hinted I’d follow up with a dessert course.
I want to be true to my word, and present more fine dining. The snag to putting the final seal of approval on a great gastronomic experience was the carcass disappearing not long after I published the ready meal post. I guess a bear or wolf, one of the four legged OldPlaidCamper readers, recognized a tender seal steak and snuck down there when the eagles weren’t watching. No dessert on that beach.
So, what about dessert OldPlaidCamper? I’m glad you asked, and it’s coming. A properly prepared meal can take a little time…
A group of youth, elders, and mentors went out last weekend to share wilderness and land based learning time. The weather had been fine all week, sunny, not too hot, perfect for being on the water and traveling up to the remote camp. We climbed aboard boats and it started to rain. We sailed for about an hour through the Broken Group islands and through the rain. We disembarked and pitched tents in the rain. We spent the first night enjoying the soothing sound of rain on canvas, but hoping it would ease before dawn. We woke to rain. Then, at midday, it stopped raining.
Yup, yup, it rained, we get it, but dessert? Ah, you spotted the filler, some blogging hamburger helper… On with the story of dessert. A few hardy swimmers went out to harvest sea urchin, and to my great disappointment, weren’t able to find any. Phew, I thought secretly, I can look forward to that another time. No sea urchin, but the sea cucumbers were abundant. Yup, dessert is sea cucumber. It’s even more enjoyable if you’ve had a lesson in how to prepare it. For me, it tasted as good as the previous time I tried it, when I made (and clearly forgot to remember) a mental note never to eat it again. I chewed and chewed and wondered if perhaps week old seal might not be a better choice? I was very much in a minority of me, as all my companions, young and old, tucked in, and so what else could I do except hand over my share?
Dinner has been served! No more foodie pieces for the foreseeable future, not until I’ve forgotten once more how much I enjoy fruits from the sea. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
A brief post this week, written in haste as I prepare for a Wilderness First Aid course. If I don’t post anything next week, you’ll know I muddled slings with knots, tarps with triangle bandages, and ended up tied to a tree. Hopefully without an impalement injury, and dressed for the weather to avoid hypothermia…
I’ve not done a 40 hour WFA course, so this will be an interesting experience. I’ve heard stories about participants getting injured, especially during nighttime scenarios, so given my ability to slip, trip and fall in daylight, I hope my fellow participants and I can limit the after dark damage.
Talking of dark damage, how about the debate earlier this week? My brain needed a splint after that. Mentally speaking, I’m still in the recovery position. I won’t even mention my first response…
The photos this week were taken from our visit to Long Beach last weekend. You can see the debris and channels carved from the strong winds and heavy rain run off. I’m glad we moved the training from last week to this for the course – what a fortunate decision that turned out to be. The program was running whatever the weather, and the weather this week has been dry. Phew. Let’s not make my slipping chances any higher.
We’re taking some positive minded youth along for this one, and their energy and willingness to go with the flow when it comes to learning is something I’ll enjoy. I’ve heard mutterings about who they want to immobilize and carry out on a stretcher. They’ll change their minds and volunteer someone else when they think about my deadweight. “Carry him? Let’s shelter in place, he’s fine to wait it out!” I guess if they “accidentally” drop me, by later in the week they will know how to patch me up?
Stay safe, stay well, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Can that be a thing? Not too sure it’ll work, but here’s what I’ve been thinking. Thinking?! I’ve gotten very close to setting up my little solo tent on our tiny balcony. If I thought Mrs. PC would let me in again the next morning, I’d probably take that trip. This week is a bit of a repost, or perhaps a remake? Redo?
This time last year was the last time I went on an off grid trip. Over thirty young people plus elders and mentors set off in two boats, in high spirits, low temperatures and steady rain. The smaller boat was a zippy number, speeding ahead and stopping every now and then to drop a line, see what could be hooked. We had time. This was because the second boat was a larger slow boat, carrying most of the group and all of the supplies. A steady steamer that probably felt smoother in the roughish seas.
I was on the small boat for the outbound voyage, “enjoying” those roughish seas and the chance to stop and fish. The fishing wasn’t a huge success, unless you count snagging a surprised sea slug. Or was it a cucumber?
The weather improved over the three days we were away, so that by the time we were ready, if not willing, to return, we completed the trip under blue skies. I took the slow boat back – anything to prolong the fun.
Out at camp, we rebuilt trails that had taken a battering from a couple of spring storms. Everything was tidied and spruced up, ready to present to and welcome a group of elders coming out to see the area, for some, the first time in years. After the first night, I reset my tent properly in daylight. I’d really rushed the set up, doing the best I could in strong winds and rain in the dark. Besides, who wants their untidy tent letting the side down?
What I didn’t report in my first piece about this year ago trip was that on the final afternoon – the day before we were leaving – I turned my ankle over. It was jolly painful, and my left foot turned all sorts of jolly interesting colours.
Since then, the recovery of the high ankle sprain has taken many months. It’s unlike me not to have complained about this sooner, but as I’ve time in this pandemic, and because you’re interested, let me share that I couldn’t ride my bike, and really struggled with walking up anything with much of an incline. My dreams of shimmying past the last defender and scoring a beauty of a World Cup winning goal have had to be put on hold. Again. I know, I know, it’s a loss for sport.
All of this slight moping and retelling and reminiscing is simply a way of me wishing we could all go camping again soon. Not all at once, and not in the same place. I love you dearly, but there are physical distancing issues that we need to respect. Still, until we can be out in our favourite places and with our favourite people, there’s always the virtual camping and old stories to share. Again. Did I mention my ankle?
Thanks for reading, enjoy the long weekend if you have one, the regular one if you don’t, and stay safe and well! Now, where’s the spare back door key, and let’s see if that solo tent will fit on the balcony…
PS I’m told those seas really weren’t that rough, or roughish – even the sea slug laughed at me. Or was it a cucumber?
Yup, the last long weekend was a busy weekend. About 40 youth and associated mentors heading out and away for a few days of camping, fishing, trail-building, archery and anything else that seemed like a good outdoor idea.
We set off in two vessels, one a speedy affair with room for nine, and the other a larger, more sedate boat with room for all the gear and space to spread out above and below. Going out, I was in the smaller boat, coming back, I traveled in the larger. Both were fun, with the voyage out being busier. As the larger vessel was cruising slowly and steadily toward our destination, the smaller boat zipped about, looking for favourite (previously successful) spots to fish, and to pick up and drop prawn and crab traps.
Two traps contained many prawns, and these were a mainstay for an almost midnight feast later that day. We ended up eating so late because the zodiac and tin boat transfer from the tiny offshore dock to the beach near base camp took quite a few journeys. All that gear and all that youth – thank goodness for young people when it comes to pitching tents and stowing gear in the rain and near dark.
The rods and reels proved far less successful over the weekend, with very little success in hooking a fish. A large sea cucumber got a bit of a surprise and was no doubt mightily relieved to be returned to the deep. The prawn and crab traps did not deliver either. Oh well.
The rain fell from the moment we left Friday afternoon to just before dawn on Saturday, when the skies cleared and warm sunshine was an almost constant companion through Saturday and Sunday. A fair number of mosquitoes were also near constant companions, but not unbearably so.
The weekend was visibly bear-free, aside from frequent scat sightings, and some splashing in the early hours from across the narrow channel. Nothing to be alarmed about. I alarmed a bald eagle that was perched atop an old stump at the point of the spit – I think it may have been my early morning pee break that startled her, causing her to fly off somewhat sooner than she may have been planning. A magnificent sight (the eagle, not me peeing…)
The dry and near windless days allowed for perfect archery conditions, and it was good to see the young ones honing their technique and improving their accuracy. They were able to display their skills to a group of ten elders who visited for the day on Sunday.
Prior to the arrival of the elders, much effort was put into further improving the trail through the forest from the beach to the camp. And you’ve never seen a tidier base camp than how it looked for that afternoon – when grandmothers and grandfathers visit, it had better look right!
When the elders arrived on the beach, they were welcomed with a song sung by a young warrior. His voice was strong and steady, and his song echoed back from the low mountains surrounding the inlet. A memorable moment from a trip with many fine moments.
We awoke on Monday to low cloud and a threat of rain. After the warmth of the previous two days, it was something of a relief to be able to pack up and shift all the gear back to the beach and on to the boats in cool conditions. And would you believe it, once we cleared the inlet and headed out into wider waters, the clouds fell behind us and we sailed under blue skies. A certain OldPlaidCamper might have dozed off up on deck, lulled to sleep and pleasantly tired after a very good long weekend.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
It’s good to let things go. If you read on, a word of warning – this might not be about what you think it could be about. Just saying…
A departure from my recent regular schedule as Mrs. PC and I head off for a visit to dear old Blighty. Life on the road and in the air is generally fun, and access to internet permitting, I’ll aim to have something to post each Friday. Most of our time over there will be spent in the wild and woolly west of the country, so lots of hill-walking, pubs, old buildings, pubs in old buildings, coastal scenery and pubs for rest and recuperation. And rain. The real reason to be there is catching up with family and friends, and that means a bit less hiking and a lot more pubs. Oh, ok, if we must.
Last week was rain free, and the weekend out in the forest was a cold, dry and sunny one. We had over thirty boys, youth and young men, active and eager to learn land based traditional practices away from the distractions of the modern world. These fine young people are shaping up to be the leaders, protectors and providers for their communities in future years, drawing on skills and teachings shared by present day elders. It was a delight to be there and see the growth in esteem and abilities.
These boys looked out for and after each other, showing great responsibility in the boats, setting up camp, sharing the cooking, or teaching and learning archery. It’s something of a cliche, but it’s true to say eyes and faces were shining all weekend long. Even when one of the boats broke down as we were heading back, and there was a possibility of being delayed and stranded on a small island! These guys took it in their stride – I don’t think they wanted to head back as soon as we had to…
There was much laughter, singing and drumming around the fire, and stories from previous outings and experiences were shared, with a strong thread of humour running through many of the tales told.
I’ll leave you with one story shared by J. He’s a quiet young man, growing into his role as a leader, and becoming more comfortable with using his voice in a group situation. He is rarely in a rush to speak, but when he chooses to, he’s a wonderful deadpan storyteller. He told me the following:
“I was invited to a gathering by another nation. We went by boat to their island and stayed in their longhouse. The food was good, and there was plenty, so I filled up. I am lactose intolerant and hadn’t realized how much cheese I’d eaten until my belly started to tell me. I couldn’t ignore the rumbling and asked a neighbour for directions to the outhouse. It wasn’t far, but it was dark, and I couldn’t find it. My need grew so great that I had to let things go before I found the outhouse. Luckily, I seemed to be in a small clearing with leafy trees all around. I needed many leaves.
The next morning, I joined a group setting off to explore some of the nearby trails. We went around a corner, and there, in the middle of the trail was a large pile of poo and leaves. It wasn’t left by a bear. Everyone was horrified. Who would do such a thing when the outhouse was so close? I was horrified as well, but I did not say why.”
J was laughing when he told this story, and then he started to grimace. His belly was beginning to rumble right then.
“It’s ok! This is better than an outhouse!” he cried, grabbing a shovel and heading away from the fire, a man on a mission.
There are plans to build an outhouse one day, along with a longhouse to make the traditional camp more appealing and accessible to all who visit, but until then, it’s grab a shovel and dig.
I think J is right about how it is good to let things go. I’ll stop there, and you’re probably quite relieved about that.
A name like that deserves an exclamation point! Or two!
A very short post this week, as I’ve mismanaged my time and I’m now scrambling on Thursday evening to prepare for a wilderness weekend away with youth. Fortunately, I’m not the main planner for the coming weekend. I just have to remember some spare socks and a bottle of water. Well, perhaps a few items more – like the new lightweight solo tent I’ll be trying out, one that is rated for winter yet still weighs little more than a pair of socks. I’m excited about that. The tent, not the socks.
Inspiration Point was where Scout insisted we go last weekend. After a morning of showers, we made the most of a weather window to hit the coastal path. Scout dragged me through brush and over rocks, around trees and across streams, and almost over a rainbow. We had a great hike, resting up on different overlooks and sunny spots around Inspiration Point. It was rather inspiring, warming ourselves in the sunshine, listening to the crash of waves below, watching the bald eagles and other bird life getting on with their lives.
Yes, inspiring, exhilarating and hard to drag ourselves away. Not so hard for Scout because she was in full adventure mode, whereas I knew I was supposed to be sorting myself for the trip away, but was happily engaged in doing nothing in the sun as a displacement activity. It’s an effort to gear up, but a worthwhile effort.
This weekend is meant to be below seasonal norms for temperatures, but bright and sunny. I’ll take that over a rainy forecast, and if it is dry, we’ll count ourselves lucky, as we’re heading out to a location reputed to be the second wettest for rain in Canada.
Right, time to end this piece, and finish the gearing up that I never really started last weekend. Rain or shine, it’ll be fine, because I’ve already packed spare socks. Just about ready. Why, I’m almost prepared…
A short post to go with the short days. I know the days aren’t shorter in hours and minutes, but the decreasing daylight is a disappointment this time of year. You’d think, after all these decades, I’d have come to an accommodation with less light by now…
What we have enjoyed is being out and about as the sun starts to set early afternoon. Oh alright, I’m exaggerating – not early afternoon, more like late afternoon. Given the fairly sunny spells we’ve mostly had the past few weeks, there have been some very colourful sunsets and I’ve included a few shots here. We’ve been fortunate to be on beaches and tramping trails in glorious weather, huffing and puffing to keep up with an enthusiastic canine hiker. Or is that jogger?
Since last weekend it has been rather rainy in this little corner of the PNW – as it should be – and the wind got up quite a bit yesterday, so it is looking like too much of a risk this coming weekend to take a youth group out in boats to their remote camping spot. Like the young ones, I’m disappointed not to be camping, but also like the young ones, not entirely disappointed to be avoiding camping in what looks like a weekend of prolonged rainfall. Instead, we will be crabbing in a sheltered bay, and trail building more locally – plenty of outdoor time and, thankfully, no chance of swell-induced Salish seasickness.
Any suitable crustaceans will be distributed to elders in the community, and if firewood needs chopping and stacking, then the youngsters will get to that as well. It’s a delight to see them connected, community-minded and caring.
If you celebrate US Thanksgiving, I hope it’s been a happy holiday and continues to be so into the weekend. Thanks for reading, it’s always appreciated!