Last weekend I went on our annual spring camp out with my Pathfinder Club. I was afraid I was going to have an adventure since I did not have as much time to plan as I usually take. But there were no adventures, so all was well.
We camped on my friend Ken Haggett’s farm. We have camped there many times in the past, but this time we moved to a new area since we discovered last year that our old camp site is prone to flooding. I wrote about that last year so I don’t need to rehash it. The new area is quite a bit drier.
I had several goals for this trip. Every year we make plaster casts of animal tracks. Sometimes we find tracks out in the wild, but in a pinch, we will take our old casts, impress them in some sand, and cast those. We do this to meet one of the class requirements for the Companion class, but don’t have time every year to earn the full Animal Tracking honor. I like to make the time every 3-4 years, and this was one of those years.
The Haggett Farm has a lot of wild turkeys, and sure enough, we had no trouble finding their tracks.
I have been wanting to cast a turkey track for a long time. I have even stopped the car a couple of times when I’ve seen turkey’s cross the road in front of me, got out, and looked for tracks. But that never came to anything. But now we have cast this turkey track in plaster, and have added it to our collection. We also made casts of deer, frog, squirrel, and coyote tracks over the weekend, but we already had examples of those.
On the way back from casting these, I took a photo of some Bluets (Houstonia caerulea).
I hadn’t seen them yet this season, but now I can check that box.
Another I hadn’t seen yet this year was goldthread (Coptis trifolia).
I only took one shot of it and got lucky. It’s hard to concentrate on photography when you’ve got 12 kids in tow.
At one point during the trip, I aimed my camera at two of the girls. They decided to pose for me by kicking their feet up and trying to put them on one another’s chairs. That led to a slight imbalance which led to an all-out tumble.
Those are the same two girls who were wading in the ocean last year on Pathfinder Fun Day when they began splashing one another. It ended much the same way then as it did this weekend (only there was less water this year).
I managed to catch these flies in the act on our kitchen window screen.
They were oblivious to my lens which I got to within less than an inch of them.
On Saturday evening, Ken came down to visit with us. We had a nice fire going, and I asked Ken to tell us a story. He reluctantly agreed.
The first time we camped on his farm, Ken came down and told a story that was just hilarious. We have camped on his place several times since then, and until this weekend, he had not been able to make it down for a story. I was so glad he did this time.
He makes these stories up as he goes along, and it’s mostly about how he hung out with Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, John Colter, and Jason Grimes, the one-armed mountain man as they explored the Yellowstone area. These are all real people, and Ken knows his material (he teaches history at a nearby high school). As the story progresses, it gets more and more ridiculous, ultimately building up to a point where he scares the kids. They love it. Last time he told a story, it involved the legendary two-legged fur-bearing trout. This year it was the giant warm-blooded black fly (and I know exactly where that inspiration came from – the tiny, cold-blooded variety were thick).
After the story the kids played a game in the woods in the dark, so they were clearly not seriously scared. I let them stay up for a while and then sent the pre-teens to bed. When I was about to drop myself I sent the teens to bed and turned in myself. Then we had a gentle rain that lasted through the night. By morning it was pretty much done and the temperature had dropped into the 50′s. That was enough to tamp down the black flies, so it was very welcome to everyone.
After breakfast we worked on the Camping Skills honors as well as Wilderness Living. We finished Camping Skills and made a sizable dent in Wilderness Living (we’ll finish that one up in Maine in two weeks). We also practiced building a ladder from poles and ropes. That’s the other competition we’ll have at the Camporee in Maine (along with the cardboard boats).
After lunch on Sunday we started to break camp. Since we were on Ken’s farm and not at a public campground, we decided to leave the tents up to give them a chance to dry out. Otherwise the kids would have taken them down, and I would have had to pitch them again at my house when I got home. Then strike them again after they were dry. Sometimes the drying part takes 10 days, and it looks like this might be another one of those times. The forecast is calling for rain every day for the next week. Sigh. I might go back to the farm and move the little tents into the kitchen tent. I think I could get six of them in there. Then they’d have a shot at drying out before we take them to Maine.