Atlanta to Alturas Lake #4: Breaking Camp

After a long mountain climb while leading horses and corralling three needy, rambunctious kids, I can’t imagine facing the work it must have taken to make camp. But camps must be made and dinners must be cooked.

Heavy tarps and blankets were pulled off the horses, then heavy wooden boxes packed with skillets and canned foods were hoisted off the pack saddles. Before anything else the horses had to be tended to, so Dad got busy with that. We kids were put to work gathering wood for a fire and blowing up our air mattresses. Now that I think of it, the mattresses were always flat by the time we got to bed — were they brought along just to keep us busy?

These days, with light mountaineering equipment and scores of Sawtooth hikers, I don’t know if there is wood for camp fires or not. But in 1954 there was abundant dry wood laying on the ground and hanging as snags from the trees. It wasn’t long before we kids were through with chores and were entertaining ourselves by bareback riding the horses around camp.

Meanwhile Mom arranged what rocks she could find so they would hold the Coleman white-gas camp stove and spent rest of the day cooking, feeding, washing dishes, and reading aloud by fire light as we snuggled under blankets watching the stars come out.

The next morning, after breakfast was cooked and the dishes were cleaned, the hard work of unpacking was reversed. But everything had to go back on the horses, so camp was broken.

Breaking Camp

One camp ritual I had forgotten until looking at my Dad’s slides was our daily bath.

bathing in creek

We did not have a tub to heat water in, so Sawtooth Mountain “bathing” always consisted of a washcloth in the creek. What with the sweat and dust of the trail, I remember the concept of a bath being most welcome. I also remember these being extremely quick approaches to hygiene. Even in August, those mountain streams were snow just hours earlier. They were cold!

Those washcloths never approached my body with enough water to run, I’ll tell you that. I soon learned to get them just damp enough to wipe off the grit and get the bath done.

August Snow

3 thoughts on “Atlanta to Alturas Lake #4: Breaking Camp

  1. james knosp housley

    Who’s the third person in the third photo?

    From: Deans Great Wahoo To: jimknosp@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:08 PM Subject: [New post] Atlanta to Alturas Lake #4: Breaking Camp #yiv3419168212 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3419168212 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3419168212 a.yiv3419168212primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3419168212 a.yiv3419168212primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3419168212 a.yiv3419168212primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3419168212 a.yiv3419168212primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3419168212 WordPress.com | deansgreatwahoo posted: “After a long mountain climb while leading horses and corralling three needy, rambunctious kids, I can’t imagine facing the work it must have taken to make camp. But camps must be made and dinners must be cooked.Heavy tarps and blankets were pulled off t” | |

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  2. rangewriter

    Wow! Definitly times long gone. Fireword? Forget it! Building your own fire? Forget it! But yeah, the cold washclothes, I get it. Actually, I’m a fine of ice cold lakes when I can find them. Erich used to claim I have no central nervous system because at the end of a long hot hike, you can’t keep me from plunging head first into the nearest lake.

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