I used to see wives that would stay home and let their husbands take some other guy with them on this really fun hunting trip. I would never be that wife! No way. I would be the one going with him, if I was in that situation. That would be so fun!
Or so I thought…Ladies. Let this be a warning.
Last weekend my husband took me with him on a scouting pack trip. And I finally understood why. Why all those women stayed home.
You see, I should have known before we even hit the trail. First a man comes rushing out of the woods. Breathlessly explaining that he had been walking since northern Washington, (so obviously was a tough mountain man son-of-a-gun, dude) but he could not take another minute of that rain. He promptly asked where the closest hotel was. We pointed in the general direction and he was off.
Next, a fisherman was abandoning the woods. He was a friendly, positive guy. Telling us to watch out for the trails, cuz they were a little “sloppy”. A little sloppy. I quickly learned he was a verrry positive man.
Because within minutes we ventured out on that ‘slightly sloppy’ trail. With our horses slippin and slidin through inches of muck and mud, I was about ready to turn around. That is if I could actually get my horse to obey me long enough to abandon his friends.
See, we had with us three horses—Sassy, Fig, and Everest. I rode fig. And I was so scared. Because horses scare the crap out of me. And crap is a bad word. But it’s the only way I can accurately communicate my fear of these stupid animals. And, these already scary animals were slippin and sliding all OVER those freakin trails. (Again, bad word. But, you will soon realize that this was a trip of all sorts of colorful words.)
Anyways, Fig. She didn’t kill me. Which really made me happy. But, she did manage to walk 2 inches from the edge of every deadly dropoff of every cliffside. With her head cocked to the side admiring our soon to be sure death, she would undoubtedly, every time, stumble on some barren stump on the path. Throwing me into all sorts of meltdowns. And she really enjoyed brushing me practically off on any remotely available pinyon tree. During this entire expenditure I somehow survived by just closing my eyes and trying to breath slowly, before I had a complete meltdown and started bawling crying begging to walk the rest of the way, however far, I would do it if he just please wouldn’t make me get back on that animal! But, luckily we are still newlyweds so I tried to contain some dignity so he could think of me as a brave capable woman. Every time he turned around to check on me, I quickly played cowgirl and smilingly exclaiming, “Isn’t this just beautiful”! ….pfff…I never saw the scenery. My eyes were either locked on the path…watching for those slippery slopes or closed. Because I was praying. The whole time. I wanted to cry. Like so bad. I hate horses. (Don’t worry, by the end of the trip I clearly let him see the real me and my not so brave self.)
So, all I’m really trying to say is I didn’t get many pictures, due to my white knuckles clenched on the twine reigns and sweaty saddle horn the entire way!
Annnyways…on the way up we passed through one storm. And, we were still happy. Singing “Singin in the rain”. And hymns. And stuff.
Finally we made it to camp…a sopping wet field. But I was off a horse. So I was totally happy. I peeled my sopping socks off my white wrinkled feet. Next, my shivering hands managed to find our mashed tin-foil dinners. A warm supper. Oh but wait. It had been raining. Remember? And wet wood won’t burn. No matter how mad you get at it.
So, back on came the socks. And if you have ever had to pull freaking cold heavy socks back onto your already prune chaffed feet you would understand that that…. that will make any grown dignified woman want to fall down and pitch a fit. Like, a big one.
But alas, off we headed to borrow some fire from some fellow camper back down the trail. Well, by this time it was dark. And we slipped and slid our way down the mountain. Constantly in tense (almost losing it) tones I requested if the dim glare of the flashlight could perhaps just be flashed in my direction in order for me to avoid who knows what kind of rocks, sink holes, or death waiting for me. Well, one quick flick of the flashlight behind his back (the light hitting some far off knoll out yonder) and he kept on trudging. Thanks honey.
We arrived at the camp. Woke the campers up. Begged for their fire. Cooked our food. And left. Nice people are so nice.
So, back we went. After another battle for flashlight control, we finally arrived at our 1 man tent. With hunched over shoulders and kinked necks, we hunkered over our delicious warm meal, anxiously awaiting the next morning.
Ok, so I guess there is one good thing about camping with your husband. When your sleeping bag is wet. You can shiver super loud all night, until your husband starts feeling a little bad. Well, hold on. You have to move around a lot first, to wake him up, and then he can hear your shivering. Then. You see. He feels a little bad. And lets you snuggle with him. I liked that.
Well the morning was good. We looked at rocks. All day. But, I was dry so I was happy. Finally, we meandered back from the peaks to our home camping spot. I happened to glimpse over at the lake and saw girls and boys frolicking around the shoreline, soaking their toes and splashing one another. Laughing. I could feel my head tilt and a smile slide across my dried crusty face. I cried a little. Fun camping. I love fun camping….. I was abruptly brought back to reality by my husband hollering to pack up the tent while he saddled the horses. No sitting down to relax. No fire. No happiness. Just packing and moving to a new and probably wetter and unhappier location.
Back on the horses. And here the party really started. The horses were just being so scary. They could smell my fear. I know it. (Like dogs, they know when they got ya.) After a few battles (consisting of my husband hopping off his horse to come lead my horse as I tried not to scream and cry and start walking home, cuz I apparently couldn’t show Fig I was the boss) we were almost to our new destination. I could cry. And then, it happened. I hear my husband behind me…. “you idiot”…..Everest may have just forgotten he had fragile boxes (stuffed with our rations for the next two days) strapped on his back…when he decided to lay down. Well, it didn’t last for long. He shot back up and went buck-wild. Literally. Packsaddles flying everywhere. My horse thought it would like to join in the fun. And it was the boss, remember? So I knew what was coming. I heard my husband somewhere in the madness holler at me to jump off. He didn’t have to ask twice. One swift barrel-roll and I was off and running for cover. After seeing Fig make a mad dash off into the boondocks, I heard my husband say, “tiff, grab your reigns…well just...hold on”. He shoved the reigns of his steed into my quivering hands as we went to find the now two buckin bronks. There I stood. Not knowing whether to be afraid or just plain ol embarrassed. I settled for both.
When my husband returned with our smashed crackers and ripped bags, we silently made our way to Brookie pond—our new home.
We quickly unloaded and set up. And nope. You got it. No relaxing. No fun.
Cameron gives my shoulder straps of the camo backpack one more good tug before we begin climbing to find another rocky Cliffside to glass. (glass—a term cool hunter guys use to describe staring at rocks in cold windy miserable weather in hopes of seeing a sheep)
As we are walking it starts raining. I mean duh. Here I kind of forget my ‘try to be tough for your new husband’ attitude and proclaim that I will not go in this rain. And that my husband was crazy for trying to make me. “Tiff, the storm is going away from us. Trust me, we will walk right through it.” A few seconds later, one big lightening crack, and down came the hail. Now he was getting the silent treatment. Granted I couldn’t give it well cuz I was mostly just huffing and puffing five feet behind him trying to keep up as he just kept on plain ol walking.
I was in his XL rain gear. So, in an effort to keep my britches from falling off, I mostly just created the most perfect pocket for hail to slide right down into my bum crack. Seriously.
Finally he turned around. I thought we were free. Going back. Nope. He just says “Tell me if it (big mountain hail) starts hurting and we’ll bunker down under a tree for a bit.” Well, I was giving him the silent treatment, remember? So we walked on.
Finally arriving at the peak of the mountain, I hear my husband “Now, I could’ve sworn it was going that way… (of course, he is referring to this storm. That is still raging around us)… (a few seconds later and a few octaves quieter) I wish I knew which direction this thing was headed”. Yet…we kept walking. And it kept hailing. And my husband would motion over his shoulder with his two fingers thrusting forward. Meaning, come on. But of course, he couldn’t speak. Cuz the sheep would hear us (over sonic boom thunder and pounding hail) and would fluster the poor things. Raging. I was raging.
After a few quick minutes of…well…just standing. And after one loud crack of thunder (which might I add, at 13,000 ft feels like a leer jet 10 feet above your head) we headed for a pine tree. And bunkered down. Under a pine tree. You can just imagine how good little pine needles are at keeping people dry.
Finally, the storm clears. And we’re off. To the Cliffside. We walk a ways. And he asks me if I think this spot right next to us is good. Yes! I say. And start taking off my bag. “Well, I was actually thinking about that knob…over there.” And he is pointing like five miles away. “No. No Cameron. That a whole nother mountain!” … “Tiff, it will only take us five minutes. I promise.” Well, I knew it was in no way only a five minute walk. So I bet him. Cuz I wanted a good reason to really chew him up. Well…five minutes and a half sprint later, my husband leans over on the knob and wheezes, “See, I told you.” I’m, of course, in the background puking my guts out. Boys cheat.
So, we start glassing. And, we see a ram. Four in fact. I almost felt happiness. And then, he saw a big dandy! (Let me tell you how he discovered it. I leaned over to take a peak into the scope. And of course, I smashed into with my face. Knocking the whole thing out of view. As I peeled myself off the rocks and tried to somehow react with any slight sense of coolness, Cameron began working to get it back into view. And in doing so, saw the grand daddy ram. See, I was helpful. J )
But, while sitting staring at the mountain side. I finally decided that I would be a strong independent woman. I told Cameron I was going to camp. Not like in a mad way. Cuz we were happy. Cuz we saw a ram. But, I was just ready to sit in a warm tent.
So, I was off. And Cameron was going to catch up with me. But…I got kind of far off the mountain, and he hadn’t yet. No sign of him. And, the sun was going down. And in Colorado, mountains are not just like one single big tall peak. It is like a bajillion of them. And they all look the same. And I was getting scared. But, as long as I could see two lakes, I knew my campsite was below them. But, I dropped down low in a canyon. And had to cross a creek. But, the drop off was too steep. So, I had to walk quite a ways before I could find a point of entry. Upon climbing out of the canyon, to my despair, my lakes were out of sight. And the sun soon would be too. I began to run. Maybe they were just beyond this knoll? Maybe the next? I became frantic. Tripping. Praying aloud. I cried for my husband. Why had I left? Night was coming and my destination was nowhere in sight. I ran harder. I prayed louder. I could not make it through a night alone. Fear would kill me. My heart raced as I ran through endless grass and creeks. At the point of despair I crossed one final knoll, and at the bottom I saw Fig’s legs. Our horses. I fell to my knees and cried.
Upon arrival I felt much better. But, I was still alone. And there were weird noises all around. Suddenly the horses jolted, and so did my heart. I turned around just to see my husband running to camp. I turned around and ran to him bursting out crying. He saw me and stopped. And bent to catch his breathe. He was scared for me too. We hugged. I cried. And I promised to never ever leave again.
So night came. And with that. Freezing to death. But, my husband was determined. No amount of wet wood could stop him. So after an hour and half. Seriously…who has that patience? Well after that huge amount of time. He finally found success. And we snuggled by a fire.
And I was able to reminisce. On this infamous trip. And how perhaps it wasn’t entirely horrid. There were moments. Good ones. Like when my husband would wink at me from his horse as we rode. Or when he would hold my hand as we walked over grassy hillsides and steep passes. Or how he never became upset with my constant whining, but rather smiled and walked on. Occasionally singin to me tunes of encouragement. Like (in the tune of count your blessings..) Iiiiits ok Tiff, we will some find sheep. Juuuuuust hang in there tiff, yes we will find sheep. Ohhhhhh Tiiiiiff, I promise we’ll find sheep…(like it was the fact we hadn’t seen sheep that was making me mad….but, it was an effort. And I liked it.) Or how he had introduced me into such lovely landscapes. Big skies. Massive cliffs. Endless meadows surrounded by wandering streams. Seeing deer stand and watch us pass by. (Horses didn’t seem to spook them. Which is weird, cuz they sure spook the crap outta me.) And I could see that I couldn’t have gone with anyone with a better sense of humor, patience, or protection than that man.
And now, as I sit at home, (as my husband is again in the mountains doing the actual hunt) I realize that I would immediately give up my warm comfortable bed, roof, and hot food just to have his company. Because he makes everything good.
So, next time he goes hunting and asks me to tag along, will I? Yes, absolutely.