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bearklr's picture
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Story I wrote about camp

I'm not sure what "camp" is like in many other states but I'm sure at their core they're all the same. I'm not talking about where they sit or what they're made of but rather the guys, friends and families that make them up.  Here in Pa a lot of our camps have been around for generations and sit in old growth forrest looking down a valley.  My camp for example has been around since the late 1800's and has been in my family as long as I can remember.  We're now up to about 22 members (all uncles and cousins).  Well, about 2 1/2 years ago a very close uncle to me passed away in a tragic car accident.  I got to thinking about the upcoming deer season and how it just wouldn't be the same.  I decided to write everything I was thinking at the time down into a story.  I posted this on another message board but thought you guys may enjoy it as well.  I hope you like it.

 

“Are ya headin’ up”?  If you’re anything like me there’s no need to drill through your memory bank trying to figure out what these four words are referring to.  To those of us lucky enough to belong to a camp in Pa, we’ve heard this phrase all too often.  Grammatically, it’s a relatively simple phrase that to most of the general population means pretty much nothing.  To me on the other hand the thoughts and memories it invokes are quite endless.

 

So what is it exactly that we are heading up to?  Is it a building built in the 1800’s handed down through generations, or a camp built last year by a few buddies who have been saving for years?  Is it the creek out front where we’ve fished since we were kids or the spring woods out back where we called in our first tom?  Maybe it’s the fire pit or the back deck.  Then again, as I think about it a little more, maybe it’s actually none of these things.  I say that, not because my camp doesn’t have these things.  In fact, it has all of them.  In truth, I say it because what we’re actually heading up to are the memories that these things spur to mind.   

 

It’s the Friday before deer season and I am the first to arrive at camp.  As I open the door and set foot inside I am hit with the smell of the old pine of a camp that has been standing longer than most any tree on the mountain.  It still amazes me that even as the thermometer outside reads twenty eight, inside the camp it feels even colder.  As I take my first deep breath of that cold pine air it’s not the arrival that makes me smile, but rather knowing that within the next hour I will be joined by my closest friends and family.  I slowly make my way to the wood stove and load it with some crumpled up newspaper and kindling.  As I light the paper and wood turns to flame, the smoke begins to roll out of the front of the stove filling the room.  I sit there staring at the flames as they lick the top of the stove, calling out with their all too familiar crackle.  As I close my eyes to take it all in, I smile as I hear the voice of my great grandfather calling out to me “put some more on boy”.  I proceed to throw another log on as my uncle’s voice slowly fills my head asking me if I think we’ll have enough wood to get us through the night.  Even though I tell him yes, he still feels the need to help and brings one more load in from the woodpile.  We sit there talking about old times as I stack the new load beside the stove.  Slowly, the smell of the fire begins to overpower all of my other senses.  In an instant I’m snapped back to reality, sitting there once again alone, staring at the open door of the woodstove.  I smile to myself one last time as I close the door to the stove, for it never ceases to amaze me how one simple stove can give me a few precious moments with lost loved ones.

 

As I get older I begin to realize that the camps of Pa are more than just wood and nails.  They are doorways into our past and gateways to our future.  That’s why every time I’m asked “are ya headin’ up”?  I do all I can to make sure that my answer is yes.  For now I’m lucky enough to be the one starting that fire every deer season, but I know that some day, I will be the one who disappears when the stove door is closed.

 

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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22 members?  Geez, that's a

22 members?  Geez, that's a big "camp".  I bet it's alot of fun though.  Good read, thanks.

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Great read, we only have up

Great read, we only have up to 5 in our camp. we dont have a cabin or anything but we set up our tents and such, we always have our core group of me my dad and brother and usally a couple friends, some of the best memories are the ones after a day of hunting and telling those camp fire stories or playing cards and stuff like that. i look forward to my trips every year just for the comrodery.

bearklr's picture
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camp

yeah, we always have a blast up at camp.  It was an old farm house back in the late 1800's that at some point in time got converted into a hunting camp and ended up in our family.  We've remodeled that thing more than I can imagine and it doesn't even resemble the same building any more.  I'm beginning to think we're starting to get spoiled though.  When I first started going there wa sno running water and no tv or phone.  All we had was a radio.  Now we built on an addition so we could make the kitchen bigger and add a few more bedrooms.  It's all bunk beds on the 2nd floor and we can technically sleep 32 with everyone having thier own bed.  Of course the older guys and those...well...let's just say "less in shape" get the bottom bunks guys like me have the luxary of climbing on top.  As far as the members go it's really just all of the guys in our family who are old enough to join.  We're all either brothers, uncles or first cousins and we have a pretty close family.  There's actually three more boys who will be members eventually but they aren't old enough yet.

Here's our group from last bear season siting on the front deck.  There's actually about 7 or so guys in the pic from another camp but the rest are all ours.  Being up there that time of year is so much fun I could care less if I even made it out hunting sometimes.

 

Here's a view from my bear stand last year looking down the valley.

 

Here we are heading over the creek going to camp.  In the summer if the creek is low enough (which most of the time it is) we can drive accross.  If it comes up like it does in the winter then we're forced to row across.  It's definitely a pain in the but when you have enough groceries to feed 25 guys for 5 days!

 

I'll tell you one thing.  The mountains we have out here may not be as big as the ones out there but I'll walk yours any day lol.  I remember my first trip out to Colorado thinking "holy crap, I'm gonna die.  Our mountains are a nightmare so the Rockies HAVE to be worse".  Boy was I pleasantly surprised.  It's a lot longer walking but a heck of a lot easier.  The mountains in this pic are straight up.  I can literally walk on the hillside, stick out my right hand and touch it and barely have to bend over.  What makes it worse though is there's no dirt.  The ground is solid slate covered with wet leaves year round.  All day it's 5 steps forward and fall.

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Marvin = Drunk

razz

bearklr wrote:

 

 

 

 

Damn, Marvin cant even put his beer down for a damn piture to be taken??? Maybe its a good thing he's not going with us to CO this year :D  *edit I dont know why but its cutting him out of the original picture. Hes the one with the Eagles jersey drinking while the pics being taken

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Man, I wouldn't want to be

Man, I wouldn't want to be the first vehicle in line.  Hope the riverbed hasn't changed since last season.....

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lol

You know I was thinking that exact same thing. that would really put a damper on the trip if your truck sank in the river. I would rather be the last one in line.

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I havent walked in the

I havent walked in the rockies but we have 3 ranges in oregon, the blue mountains in ne oregon , there not too bad, its pretty gradual inclines and declines, some steep spots and the woods arent too thick, then theres the cascades, those are very steep and rugged and very thick, its very hard hunting climbing up and down those hills, then theres the coast range which is classified as a rain forest. its very very steep and very very thick. its some very tough hunting but it holds some very nice deer and elk. most wont hump around in the woods so if you can suck itup and walk a little bit you can get into the animals. One day I'd like to hunt CO and experience those rockies.

bearklr's picture
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not a problem

Nah...no need to worry about that riverbed.  It's solid rock and hasn't changed in as long as I can remember.  It's about 12 - 18 inches most of the way over and might hit a little over two feet deep towards shore.  In the summer though there's a lot of it sticking out of the water.  I do like how you guys call it a river bed though :P   Around here we call that a creek.  A river has to be at least a mile wide and run through a few states for us to consider it a "river" lol

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That is a great piece. Well

That is a great piece. Well written. That is a whole lot of guys. I bet there is a bit of testosterone overload on some of those hunts. It's like a summer camp for grown men. Kind of scary haha. Well congratulations on putting together such a wonderful camp and keeping the tradition going for so long. Our group has recently split into two and I am really hoping that we can get back together at some point. It just is not quite the same without everyone around the fire.

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