10 November 2010

No trespassing!

As I left it: I was on fire. Got put out. Big blister on ankle. 20 silly blisters up my left leg. Camping just past the edge of nowhere, so we're self-medicating. Now it's time to leave this Gilligan's Island paradise. Soooo...

The story continues (and this is just to close it out):

We leave from the island cove by noon in a pissy rainstorm. Within an hour, a thunderstorm hits. We have to get off the lake. It takes hours and hours to make it the 5 or 6 miles to the next portage. And it's still raining. The damn storm bounced off a bunch of the Four-Thousanders and hit us once an hour every hour, so we spent a lot of time along the shore.

We have this new portage to make. This one was only about a half-mile long. But remember, if a portage is 1/2 mile long, then going back to get more stuff makes it 1 1/2 miles long. (Maths lesson, cause someone always asks...if you walk 1/2 mile, then turn around and walk 1/2 mile back, then turn around again and go back to your original destination 1/2 mile away, you have walked 1/2+1/2+1/2=1 1/2 miles!) A second trip back for more stuff makes it 2 1/2 miles long. So you have great incentive to make as few trips as possible. Especially when it's raining, with thunder and lightning to top it off.

The storm is finally gone, but it's pitch black, and the first hundred yards of the portage is up a muddy bank with a rushing cascade beside us. It would have been beautiful during the day. All we've got to look forward to is mud and crap for the next half mile. We get organized. The goal is no more than 2 and a half trips. Then someone decides if we double up and carry loaded canoes, we can do it in one and a half. Loaded canoes are tough to carry. Especially when they're filling up with rain water. But off we go.

Some clown (yeah, me) started singing. "The Titanic". How appropriate. Take a second and go read the lyrics. I'll wait for you to come back.................Welcome back. Our only light was headlamps and flashlights which are hard to hold when you're using both hands to carry a loaded canoe. We slipped, slid and managed to get the canoes and gear to the other end in only one and a half trips (meaning only half made a second trip back).

Now we've got a new problem. The rain has let up slightly, to a mist. But it is dark, and there is no way to find the Adirondack shelter along the lake shore in front of us. But posted everywhere along the edge where we are standing on old, rotten, broken down docks are NO TRESPASSING signs. We're on the edge of an estate owned by some old New York family, perhaps the Rockefellers. But we have no real choice. We break out the minimum number of tents, set them up on the rickety docks, and 4 to a tent, crawl in to try to get some soggy sleep.

The next morning we're up before dawn (not that we slept much), and broken down, loaded, and on the water in about fifteen minutes. Probably a new record for us! No armed guards showed up. No repercussions. We paddled like mad until we found a nice, dry beach to fix breakfast, then we headed up through Utowana Lake, Eagle Lake, and into Blue Mountain Lake. We arrived too late to turn in the canoes, so we camped one last night on a rocky, rooty island. The next morning, the canoe trip ended, and we headed to Fort Ticonderoga to cross into Vermont and continue the trip.

06 November 2010

Oh yeah. I'm on fire!

One of America's great wilderness parks is the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. We were canoeing in the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Started at Sixth Lake, canoed through Seventh and Eighth Lake where we spent a night each, then had a portage into what I think was called Browns River. When we hit the shore at the end of Eighth Lake, the boys were looking for the signs leading to the portage trail. "Look up, guys." HAHAHAHA! The signs were 12 feet off the ground! Got to put them above snow levels, in sight of the snow machine drivers which are a lot more prevalent than canoers. In the winter at least, when the snow is 9 feet deep. But summer here is wonderful, too.

Click it to see it big enough!
We carried everything we had the mile+ to the river. On the water again. Whew. Paddling is so much easier than carrying all your crap. We wind our way up the river - watching for moose, they're a damn unpredictable animal when surprised or mothering a calf, so you steer clear and try not to make any funny noises that they might interpret as love songs. And now we have to drag our boats over a fricking beaver dam that is right at a bridge. Duck and tug. Trying to stay dry. The road overhead is the only way into and out of Raquette Lake, New York.

Finally we get to the village at Raquette Lake. The general store is a welcome site. We've been out for 3 days, so we need fresh food, ice, and BEER!!! All available. After restocking, we head across the lake to our favorite spot, but it's taken so we head around the island to another nice, secluded spot. When you are as rowdy as we are, it's nice to not have too many neighbors. We find three shelters by the cove, away from the main lake traffic. Ahhhhh, relaxation. The plan is to spend at least two days here. Good swimming, no motorboats, lots of woods.

We know how to cook. Almost everyone has cooking talent. When this group of guys goes camping, we eat well. Gourmet cooking in the wild. No freeze dried crap.

One night while we're camping here (the night after someone ran into a tree playing "Kill the Witch" in the woods and wound up with a shiner and a bloody nose), someone says "Hey J,G., how about fixing us a cobbler for dessert tonight?" Cobblers are  my specialty. Fruit, dough, combined and cooked just right. I fix cobblers in cast iron dutch ovens with covers.


Recipe for dutch oven Dusty Roads Peach Cobbler:
1 box Pineapple Supreme Cake  Mix
1 #10 can Sliced Peaches
2 sticks butter
Cinnamon Spice

Pour peaches into 10 or 12 quart dutch oven.
Set oven on hot coals. Watch peaches until juice is hot.
Pour Cake mix over the peaches. Do not stir.
Cut butter pats over the top of the dry mix on top of the peaches.
Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
Cover. Cook about 15-20 minutes on hot coals until juice has bubbled through the cake mix.
Add coals on top of the dutch oven. Cook another 30-50 minutes. 
Check occasionally for the butter melting and the top browning. Cake mix should be well moistened with the juice boiling up from the bottom. When it looks done, it is.

Serve with a large spoon! YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!!

So back to the story. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

"Yeah sure. Somebody go start me some charcoal." And I go back to drinking beer. A few minutes later I decide it's time to make the cobbler. I drag my ass off my sleeping pad and wander over to the pile of charcoal beside the shelter I've been calling home. The charcoal looks dead. Out. Piled up, never started.

Fuck me. Dinner is close. Dessert is going to be COLD. Uncooked!!! What the f? I'm waving my hand over this beautiful pile of charcoal and it's cold. Unlit.Damn it, do I have to do EVERYTHING?!?!?!?

I grab a can of Coleman fuel. Time to speed things up and get this shit lit. I open it. Pour it on the pile. And flames shoot up to the can!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What the f, again??????? (Apparently, there were lit coals in the pile that just weren't putting out enough heat to feel with a hand.)

I drop the can, and being so very smart I know that if I get the top covered, it will go out. So I stick a foot out to clamp over the 1" diameter opening. 

Just as one of the clowns near me decides to try to pick the can up with a stick. So I wind up KICKING THE CAN right in the side!!!! This results in burning Coleman being spewed up my leg and now I'M ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me tell you. I've heard STOP DROP AND ROLL since I was in elementary school. At that time, many, many years it made sense. Let me tell you something else. STOP DROP AND ROLL does not necessarily apply when YOU ARE THE BLOODY IDIOT ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I headed for the lake, only a few yards away. But one of the guys saw me and reacted. He sprang. And put me on the ground, rolling me over and over. The fire went out. OMG, how awesome is that?!

OK, who knows first aid? What is the most important factor when a person suffers a significant trauma injury? I'll wait while you look it up ............................. BRAAAAPPPPP. Sorry, time's up. Shock. Well let me tell you, shock sucks. Couple that with pain and you have a serious combination. My system was rotating betwen a racing heart and panting for breath to feeling like I couldn't breathe at all. That coincided with the cycle of pain in the ankle and leg as I was helped back to the shelter and laid out on my pad. The decision that the others had to make was "do we evacuate him (meaning an hour of paddling, to a closed down town where we do not have reliable communications or a vehicle, and once help is called, a four or five hour trip to help - response time + travel to a hospital)  or do we treat this here?" Here was the only real choice. 

Benadryl and beer. What a great combination. Turns out it takes six each to kill the pain of a blister that is 3 inches long and an inch wide, and a half inch thick right on top of the ankle where the sock had held the fuel while it cooked my foot, coupled with 20 other blisters over my leg that were no more than about 1/8th inch in diameter. This prescription kept them from hurting because without them, I wanted to throw up or just shriek in pain. But I actually got some sleep, and the next day, felt a little better. Second degree burns aren't as painful as first degree (think serious sunburn and its aftermath). The real danger is that the blisters will pop and get infected. A blister with skin over it remains sterile underneath.

Two days later we had to make another portage. That is another post (next). We popped the huge blister wrapped around my ankle because draining it and bandaging it with the skin in place was better than the possibility of rubbing it off while uncovered and getting it infected. I practically drank Betadine for the next few days ( topical disinfectant that we poured over the skin covered blister to avoid infection from the nasty water we were in). But nothing bad resulted. Everything healed up. It was painful. And I learned a powerful lesson. Let some other clown relight the charcoal. Oh, and some fool had the audacity to ask if I was still going to fix a cobbler. I think he still has the imprint of a Vibram boot sole on the side of his head.