a stroll along the pigeon...

 

the aftermath

 

It may seem strange, but I've noticed that my reaction to a narrow escape is usually a period of hilarity after the fact. Moments after leaving the water the forest was ringing with my laughter. I shook with uncontrollable laughter until it finally trailed away into gulps for air. That's when I finally began to think about the consequences of my risky behavior.

Here I was, soaking wet, with wet gear, and still no place to spend the night. Thankfully, it was early afternoon and I had plenty of time until the sun went down. A quick check of my gear showed that little of consequence had gotten wet (especially the half roll of toilet paper) thanks to the plastic bags I had used for waterproofing. I quickly changed into dry clothes and put on the canvas shoes I used for wading.

My hat was long gone. I hoped it was caught against this bank somewhere downstream. It would be slow going while I searched for it. The sleeping bag was in a waterproof nylon bag. What little water managed to find its way inside would soon dry if I could find a place to spread it in the sun. Everything else had come through fine, except for my ego and the camera.

I removed the batteries from the camera and stuffed it back into the pack. Further maintenance would have to wait until I had some distilled water to use as a rinse and an oven to dry it in - I hoped it would be all right. I packed everything away and started in search of my hat.

The mood of the day had changed. The sun still shone in the cloudless summer sky, the birds still chirped and twittered in the woods, and the trout still swam in the stream, but my enjoyment of the surroundings had dampened along with the rest of me. The travails of the last couple of hours were enough to sour even an eternal optimist, such as myself.

The next day and a half no longer seemed like such a great adventure. I almost wished I had stayed at the last campground and spent the day fishing. I stopped mid-pace and stared off into space and then I literally shook that mood off. An observer might have likened me to a dog shaking water out of his coat. Once again, I started forward, this time with a renewed enthusiasm.

That enthusiasm justified. I found my hat snagged against the near bank on the next bend in the river. After wringing it out, I put it on my head. The cool dampness was a welcome relief from the mid-day sun. Once more I set forth, this time looking about for the perfect place to camp.

The land in this area was uninviting, flat and, in places, wet. Even the river had become flat and uninteresting. There were probably suitable places further back in the woods, but I wanted to be close enough to hear the water gurgling as I drifted into sleep. I also wanted better looking fishing water. There was nothing to do but forge ahead.

Fifteen minutes later, the ground on my side of the river began to rise. Soon I came to a spot that was ten to fifteen feet above the river. This site had obviously been used for a campsite before I found it. There were traces of a fire and other signs that someone had been there before me. I scuffed at the ground looking for rocks or tree roots and found none. I turned in a circle and surveyed the surroundings. Everything looked perfect. Time to settle down for the day.

It took longer to set up camp this time. I had to spread all of my wet gear in the sun. After emptying my pack, I removed it from the frame and turned it inside out. The area soon resembled the aftermath of a tornado, with things strewn willy-nilly around my small tent. The chores were dealt with in short order. Now I could turn my attention to the fishing.

Part 10...

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