OUTDOORS - Worms and rain don't damper Don and Nora's spirits at Pittsburg Landing



The Snake River drifts through Hells Canyon and a steady rain.


Nora pauses to admire the grounds at Kirkwood Bar, which includes a museum about early settlers in the area.


The Hells Canyon museum has information about settlers in the region for the last several thousand years.

I groaned to sit up on the Therm-a-Rest mattress. With my legs through the door, I pulled on my pants and boots.


I crawled from the tent and staggered to my feet. Nora the Schnauzer passed me, stretched mightily and shook so hard three of her feet left the ground.

"You stiff, too?" I asked.

Apparently not. She trotted away on flashing legs along the mown path, her eyes locked on the hillside where a couple of deer had grazed the evening before.

Low, ruffled gray clouds graced the sky above the pointed canyon peaks.

Yet, it didn't look like rain.

I retrieved the food bag from the hackberry tree. I poured two cups of water into the JetBoil stove and pressed the igniter. Whoosh!

I emptied two packets of Swiss Miss cocoa and a dollop of instant coffee into my cup.

By the time I emptied blueberry granola with dehydrated milk into the fry pan and soaked it with squirts from the hanging water bag, the stove wobbled and steamed.

I floated and stirred the cocoa-coffee. While it cooled, I uncapped Nora's water dish and kibbles. Then I sat on the table, ate, drank and studied the stark canyon.

After stowing the gear, I left the tent door open for gnawing visitors, zipped the vestibule and called Nora.

We went exploring. I carried the fly rod and the camera. We strolled upstream to the David Kirk Grave, where three deer (the same three?) watched from a ledge.

I fished there without catching anything until we visited the volunteer caretakers, Rick and Bev Cropp from Tillamook, Ore.

Then, we walked a mile up Kirkwood Creek, past the 7,100-year-old pit-house site (weed covered indentions) to the now-ragged, windowless Carter Mansion.

On the way back, Nora and I watched a deer approach Bev at a table in the yard.

Nora followed me into the museum where I perused the canyon's nearly 150-year recorded history.

Abruptly Nora dashed through the open door, and I hurried to the porch. She lay on her back for a belly rub from a visitor from a jet boat.

Three groups, including a class of fourth graders, visited over the next few hours. I joined the students to hear a presentation about the atlatl and dart (a 30,000 year-old arrow-throwing system).

Alone again, we ate a bagel with peanut butter and jelly, and I sipped the cocoa-coffee.

We napped briefly. Then I caught two half-pound small-mouth bass below camp.

At dinnertime, alas, my remaining dehydrated entre seethed with ugly, tiny worms. Yuk!

So, we ate the last two bagels and the peanut butter and jelly with trail mix for filler.

Before bedtime, I organized the gear for an early start the next morning.

It rained during the night. It ticked lightly on the tent when I rolled out at 4:32 a.m.

I wore long johns under a nylon shirt and pulled nylon pant legs over my gaiters to keep rain out of my boots (ha!).

I stuffed Nora into her wool sweater and covered the camera with a nylon sleeve (stormjacket.com).

I packed the sodden gear, swallowed the remaining granola, and we left at 5:28 a.m.

Rain plummeted. Sopping knee-high grass soaked my pants and filled my boots. Nora's sweater sagged, and I removed it.

At three miles a soaked, velvet-antlered four-point buck crossed our path. Nora, dripping in the tall weeds, didn't see it.

At Pittsburg Landing, I rubbed Nora with a towel, changed into dry clothes and headed home wearing a smile.

Don Davis may be contacted at dondavis@wwub.com.


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