A beautiful, warm day in mid December. It was a long time since I had gotten out. I was long overdue for a little time in the woods, and between the weather and other obligations, I had a window of about 3 hours to get out and do something.
I grabbed my gear, packed my lunch and filled my canteen, and headed out after a quick stop at the liquor store and the dollar store. We’ll get to that in a bit.
The first leg of my trip required a bit of walking through some wetlands to get to the woods..
…and a bit more walking…
…and a bit more…OH! LOOK! Cattails!
Well, you can’t just pass that by, right? Gingerly, I found a path between the ice and the muck to harvest one, and into the tinder pouch it goes..
I wouldn’t be needing it today, but waste not, want not.
….aaaaand back to walking, and walking…
..and walking some more, at this point, I was beginning to sweat, almost time for a break..I knew, though, that not far up ahead was actual woods, and a good spot to rest. I could see the tree line past the wetlands.
Having walked this trail many times, I knew that, just a short distance into the woods was a good resting spot by a big rock that I call “Big Rock”. So, I trudged on a few minutes more until I arrived at Big Rock, put my pack down, and took a short break.
Oh yeah! Why do I call it “Big Rock”? Some perspective…
After a short rest, I picked up my gear and carried on, in search of the perfect little Christmas Tree for what I had in mind. In this area, the few evergreens there are scattered ariound tend to be large, or small and scraggly…surely, I could do better than this…
On I went, deeper into the forest, passing by a big burl that I call “Big Burl”..
I even went off trail, doing some bushwhacking and muck walking, with some frustration, until at last, I found it….the perfect little tree that I was looking for, and, of course, in the most inconvenient location without more than 6 inches of level ground….but hey, we make do with what we have….so this is the tree and the spot I chose for my Holiday Adventure.
So, I unpacked my gear, and busted out my Dollar Store purchases…
Alas, while decorating my little tree, disaster struck! The cheap battery case on the cheap Christmas lights busted open, and the batteries went tumbling down the rock amidst the leaves, and the thorns, and the brush! Cheap piece of crap! After much searching and a bit of language as colorful as the lights, I could only find 2 out of the 3 batteries. Naturally, I had bought a 4 pack of batteries and left the extra one back in the car…..dammit.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to let that get me down, so I pressed on, decorating my little spirit tree, even with the lights that would no longer light.
Then, it was time to bust out lunch. On today’s menu, a very special holiday treat…the last of a batch of venison stew, the venison being a gift from a very good friend of mine, that he had taken down with his bow.
I put it into the pot with some water, fired up the gel stove, and put a cover over it whilst I tried to figure out where in the world I could set myself up that was some reasonably level ground. I chose a spot on the same rock that the tree was growing from, most inconveniently.
Happily, this was the first use of another early Christmas gift from my wife, a very nice alpaca wool blanket. I put a Grabber blanket down on the rock to protect my wool blanket from thorns, and sticks, and dirt.
As you can see, I was roughing it as far as camping spots go…but I was having a good time, regardless.
So, I sat there a bit, waiting for my stew, and listened to the birds and critters around me, rehydrating myself. The stove I was using is a cheap, collapsable, wood gas stove, but I use it in many different ways, and the parts make terrific pot stands for gel stoves. It’s the best $12 I ever spent, a really great stove.
Soon, I was smelling the wonderful aroma of venison stew. I checked it, and it was ready….
Now, I like a little kick in my food, so it was time to put one of my latest pieces of kit to use for the first time…a little spice kit I picked up for $10 or so…spices included…
And added a little pepper to my stew…
Before I started my feast, though…I had to make sure the coffee was going. I actually kept my coffee in an old tin that was part of one of those holiday gift boxes. It’s perfect..it holds a pound of coffee, the lid is tight, and, for this adventure….a Ginger Snap tin just enhances the holiday theme for the day…
Coffee is on, and it’s time to eat while the kettle comes to a boil. When I was done eating, the coffee was not yet ready, so I decided to spend my time making one last search for the missing third battery, and Lo! Wouldn’t you know, it, the Holiday Spirit was indeed smiling on me today!
Happy days! I plugged the battery in, turned the switch to on, and…Oh….wait….is that coffee I smell?
Indeed! Wonderful, wonderful coffee!
So, I grabbed the ‘ol Bush Cup, and my GSI filter…and filled it up…spilling a bit because it’s hard to pour and photograph at the same time…
…aaaaand just one more thing…a little treat for myself I picked up before hitting the trail…
Oh yeah! A belly full of venison, a rich cup of coffee, with a bit of Frangelico, and it all makes for a happy Punty, indeed.
Not one to be selfish, I shared the moment with my little Tannenbaum, a toast to friends, sharing, and the holiday season…with glowy lights and all!
Well, my time was almost up. A good day, all in all. Always, something goes wrong, like losing the battery in the dirt and leaves, but hey…sometimes, things just work out right in the end if you persist.
Time to pack up my gear and get on out. I had to get home in time to take a shower, and go out to the annual Christmas dinner with all of my friends.
Truly a great day, and thank you for taking the time sharing it with me.