Thursday, September 13, 2012

I remember one time about 25 years ago.....

I remember one time about 25 years ago I was driving down a dirt road and in a clearing about 25 yards away there were two guys crouched down head to head. I was feeling particularly sociable that morning so I pulled off and wandered over to offer them a cup of hot coffee as it had been raining pretty good for a couple days.
When I got over to them, I could see they were trying to build a fire and having damned little success at it. I also noticed they were dressed completely in Royal Robbins clothes and all their gear was North Face and not only that, all that shit was brand fucking new. I mean it was so new you could still smell it. No creases yet in their fancy hiking boots, no scuffs or dirt on their packs, no rumples in their hats and most noticeably, no fucking fire.
My keen senses told me that they were new to this.
They had pieces of rotten wood and wet tinder and had just about run their lighter out of fuel trying to ignite it. They had started to burn shit from their wallets trying to coax that little flame to life.
I offered them a cup of coffee and when they accepted, I went back to the truck for my thermos, a couple of canteen cups and my firemaking equipment.
"Y'all are fucking up." I informed them. "It's cold and wet and nasty and you didn't even bring the stuff to build you a fire. May I show you the proper way?"
They looked at each other, then at me - long hair tied back, bearded, Carhartt coat, Wranglers and well worn lace up ropers on my feet, not only that but there wasn't a bit of color to me. No fancy fluorescent clothing, no fancy brand name shit but looking pretty much at home standing under a tree staying dry while they huddled in the clearing getting rained on.
"Um, sure. We're just having a little problem with our fire because it's wet."
"And because you ain't quite got a grip on things yet, Stud. Lookee here, your shit's all wet because you don't know where to look for dry wood. And even if you did find dry wood, it's getting wet because you're trying to build a fire in a clearing in a rainstorm. Come back here under this nice tree and start over."
"Oh no, we don't want to start a forest fire" they said.
"You can't even start a campfire and you're worried about burning down the woods? It's been raining hard for 2-3 days now, man. It'll be okay, really it will."
They explained that they wanted to give camping a shot and thought because it was still nice and warm down in LA, they figured it would be nice and cool up here and that they just weren't prepared but because they'd traveled so far they didn't want to waste the trip. Rain never even figured into their plans. They had used all their brought-from-home tinder trying to light wet wood and now they were fucked. They were giving up, fuck it, spend a miserable night in the car and head for home in the morning.
"Ah, the 4P Principle" I said.
"4P Principle?"
"Piss Poor Prior Planning. Come on, let's save this trip." I led them back into the forest a little bit, showed them where to find dry tinder and kindling and headed back to the truck for some 550 cord and a tarp while they gathered fuel for their fire.
When I got back to them I unfolded the tarp and set it up between some trees, then showed them how to prepare a campfire. When I was sure they had it down I asked one of them for a light and he hands me the used up lighter.
Oh well, time for me to show off my woodsman's skills. I pulled my firemaking gear out, popped that road flare and shoved it right in the middle of their nest of tinder and kindling. "Works every time" was all I said.
Fuck, I thought they were going to stroke up right there on the spot - "That's cheating!!!"
"Yeah? It ain't no less warm. It'll be all right once the flare burns out and the smoke goes away."

My lessons in outdoor life must've paid off because when I went back past there the next day, they were there and dry and warm and having a good ol' time doing nothing but drinking bourbon.

The point to this story? There ain't none, I was just doing a little remembering and thought I'd share.