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Small Frye Episode 5
Small Frye and Louis Knutson try to outdo the ducks [We also make some hot cakes 'no lack of fluid'] And “The Wonders of Spring”
Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 00:00
On one of my many trips in the hills with that old rangy-tang Knutson, I am sure I can truthfully say that I had my fair share of bathing in ice cold water and as you will see by this story we had no shortage of that substance. In fact, we had more than needed.
I had talked that old wolverine into letting me go up to the headwaters of the North Thompson River and on to the Azure and Hobson, over the mountains. I did a lot of talking but the one thing that convinced him and sealed the deal was this: I promised if I could go, I'd do all the cooking and either he was too lazy to cook on a trip like that, or he did not find the time. He finally consented to let me go, but explained that I had to pack my share of the food while out and my bedroll. He knew I was a good cook and I knew I could not outlast him, as I had to stop and cook while we were on the trail. I really think he could go for days without eating if he had to. Early the next morning I was up at daylight and all packed ready to hit the trail. I didn't give a darn how much I had to pack, as long as I could go with him.
We had to walk twelve miles on the railway tracks to a place called Gosnel, which we did with ease that morning. Then we hiked a mile off the railway to one of Louie's trapping cabins and here I made a good dinner and then, we started up the North Thompson on an old pack trail. This trail followed the river for ten miles or more to our next stop, ‘Canvas Cabin.’ Here as we eat supper in the out of doors on the shore of the river we had the treat of seeing a band of caribou as they grazed along the sand bar on the succulent small brush and hay that grew all over. They paid no attention to us at all. Among the herd was one huge bull that really had a set of horns and you could see he was the boss.
Next morning we were faced with uphill and down all day long and, at times, them damn devil’s club literally tore my clothing to shreds. I would get tangled up in their long tentacles, some twelve feet long. They were entangled with one another so tight that all I could do was tear these darn needle-sharp barbs that extended from the two-inch thick stalks. I stung all over my body and spent all of the daylight that I could trying to dislodge them from my carcass and I had lots to choose from as they were thick.
On the third day, we reached ‘Lewis Creek Cabin’ which was a very nice cabin to stay in. I got all the barbs out I could and got ready for the next day’s load. Everywhere we went for the next four days, we fought them darn devil’s club and forded several wild rushing creeks, some waist deep, and some came right up to my armpits and all of them colder than Hades. In one of them I lost my footing and down I went head over heels in that damn cold water. It was a good thing that Louie had guessed this would happen and carried my pack across for me. All that happened was I got a complete cold bath. As far as I was concerned I did not need one. Louie says to me, after I crawled out of the water spluttering, "You know Mike, we all need a bath some time, and this will do you good.” This did not help matters at all, and now I was mad, but knew better than to say anything about it to him as he may never let me go again on a trip in the hills.
Quite often I would crowd too close behind Louie and one of them darn devil’s club would slip off him and slap me right in the face. I would then curse him roundly, and all he would do was look back at me with a smile and say, "Why the hell don't you watch where you're going. I can't keep an eye on you.” Then, I'd shut up.
However, when I got mad it helped me forget the devil’s club a bit. That is the way we worked our way to the headwaters of the North Thompson. We had to ford the main stream and even here it was no small fishpond. As we camped on the shore I looked at the white water boiling along at a good clip and could see myself tumbling on down the river. I was scared and would have gladly turned back. But, he had the gun and I knew I'd get lost on my own. So, the next morning I was up and ready to meet my Maker…
The river here was about two hundred feet across and, God only knew how many big boulders were in the bottom, and they would make the going dangerous. Louie had it all figured out. He tied a rope around my stomach and the other end to his belt and told me to ford the river above him. I gritted my teeth and in I went. We proceeded to swallow a lot of cold water and got chilled to the bone. With a couple more such dunkings, I climbed out on the far shore. I was wet as I could be and already detesting the return trip. I never did dry out. We just took off up Pass Creek and the long climb to the Summit where early that evening we broke out onto the shore of Pass Creek Lake (Summit Lake). Here we enjoyed camping near the shore. As we were out of meat, I took a shot at a small caribou that came within ten feet of the camp. I missed him and he ran off into the timber and looked back at us with his tail up in the air. I shot again and down he went. We butchered him and divided the meat up. We put the big part of it in a sack and hung it way down in the ice cold lake where it would keep good till we returned.
Some of the meat we ate that night and took the rest along with us. The next day we got to a mine site. Here we stayed and enjoyed the lovely scenery and all the wildlife, including ground squirrels and timberline gophers that would sit up on a high rock and blast off a loud whistle that would reverberate for nearly a mile.
We saw all kinds of caribou and one huge grizzly that came to inspect our camp. It stood up on his hind legs and snorted at us a few times, then, took off down a long meadow.
Then came the time I was dreading; the return trip. Louie had often told me that the devil’s club would always be facing us. If we came up they would be faced down river ready to snap at us and, if we were going down, they would turn around and face us, ready to tear us to shreds. I found this to be true or so it seemed. They were terrible and so were the river crossings. I’ll tell you, if it had not been for us getting tangled up in a dirty muddy swamp, I would not have needed a bath for the next ten years after that trip.
But, fate stepped in, on the third day on our start back it started to rain and I was sure it would never stop. We were soaking wet every night and slept under a tree or some rock. We did not have the comforts of the Waldorf Hotel and the plumbing was very poor.
We were about four miles from the Lewis Creek Cabin and getting tired and damn hungry, as we never had a dry thing on us or in our packs. There was nothing to eat but caribou steak and some tea, but we had left food at Lewis Creek Cabin and had to make it there that night.
Louie looked at me and said, "You know that if we went down through the swamp instead of keeping up here along the hill, we'd cut off at least two miles," and with one of his smiles he said, "Do you mind getting a bit wet?" I said no and looked at him, the water dripping off my nose. I was as soaking wet as I could get.
So down the hill we plunged through them darn devil’s club and small willows. Oh Lord, I'm telling you it was hell. In no time at all, we were into the swamp and soon we were in dirty muskeg water up to our necks, and the mud was out of this world. I had gone a short distance when I slipped down into a deep hole. I'd go down and come up spluttering and yelling like a wounded bull. Finally, Louie came back and pulled me onto my feet and away we went again, then down I went and as I came up I saw that old hound as his head went under the muddy water and I had to laugh. But, he came up again.
Now we were soaked and as dirty as two people could be, but thank God we made it at last to the cabin. We were cold, hungry, and wet. That old cabin was a welcome sight to us. It meant food, warmth and a bed.
I soon had a good fire going and stripped bare-naked. We hung our clothes above the stove, after ringing them out as well as we could, but they still dripped muddy water on the stove and while I was mixing hotcakes. I was wondering how I would cook them, as we waited for the clothes to get dry. Anyway, I did not worry about it. I put the frying pan on and before I had the dough ready I had accumulated quite a bit of water (muddy at that) in the pan.
I could see it was going to be some problem, but we were too hungry to think about that, at the time, so I slung the water out and put in a bit of grease and two hot cakes and tried a different place on the stove. It was then I thought of a picture I'd seen in an old logging camp under the same circumstances and it had shown the cook tossing the hotcakes up through the hole in the bottom of some dirty underwear and catching them as they came down again. No matter where I put that pan, the water would drip, drip, drip, into it and I had a terrible time getting the first cake brown but, if I left it there too long it would be brown from the mud coming off the dirty clothes, so we ate them half cooked. The first two tasted good, but I soon had enough to last me. Yes, Sir! I had some wonderful trips with Louie.
The Wonders of Spring
I have often watched for the first sign of the new growth on poplar and cottonwood trees and saplings in the spring and I marvel at their beauty. I see them for a few days and then I forget all about them. I take them for granted and that should never be. We put through the rough weather and cold all winter. We hope and pray for spring to come, and then when it does come, with a view of its God-given glory, we admire it for a few days and then, forget about the beauty all around us.
The fragrance of the flowers, the lovely greenery of all the trees, the warmth from the sun… the opportunity to get out and travel, fish and just enjoy ourselves in the warm sun, all the pleasures we can get from the outdoors in the summer months are taken for granted. It seems a shame to me that we don’t, in some way or another, try and do a bit better... TO SHOW THE GOOD LORD THAT WE APPRECIATE HIS WONDERS. To do all this, we have to try and show our love to our fellowmen and abide by HIS LAWS.
A lot of us don't even do that, and, as I said, we take it for granted and get all we can out of nature for the taking. How easy it would be for all of us to try to do something for others everyday
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