Fools in Paradise
Copyright© 2019 by UtIdArWa
John, Suzy and Myself had set up a watch schedule when we planned this little adventure. John would pull first watch. Basically, staying awake until midnight. Then he would wake me up and I would cover it until 04:00, when I would wake Suzy. She would have the 04:00 until sunrise watch. This gave her the time to set up breakfast for the group.
Usually the midnight to 04:00 was the killer shift. My solution was to patrol the area. I wouldn’t just sit and watch the stars. I would get out and about. I would set snare lines. If there was a river, I would rig a hook line. I would look for edible plants and herbs. There are a million things that CAN be done in a camp. And all it takes to stay awake is do something, anything. Usually I’m such a chow hound, I would do things to help out the larder.
Because this wasn’t going to be our base camp, breakfast this morning was quick and easy, Oatmeal and coffee. and if you wanted more, Tough, take it or do without. Suzy rousted the camp up an hour before sunrise and as the sun was hitting the horizon, we were on the trail.
Today was supposed to be a hard riding day. We needed to put a lot of miles down and didn’t have to time to fiddle around. This is why I was getting a little pissed at our camera expert. Edgar kept lagging back from the main group. It got to the point where I was afraid that he would end up lost.
After our MRE lunch we started out again, and sure enough. Even though I had moved him just behind John as number 2 in the parade, He started lagging back.
When I passed him by, He claimed that his saddle was loose. When I checked my six and couldn’t see him, I knew something was up. My first thought was that he still had some weed or a bottle that John hadn’t found. So, I angled Margarite off the trail and started a wide circle around. My plan is that I would get behind Edgar and come up on him, catch him in the act and stop this foolishness.
I could see Edgar when I passed him. He had stopped and was looking at our back trail. I continued on another 20 yards. Then I angled back towards the trail. As I got close, Shadow alerted on something ahead. I stopped and dismounted. Slowly approaching the trial, Just as I reached the trail, a new player came into the game.
A white guy wearing blue jeans and a Queen T-shirt came into view. He was riding a chestnut mare and had a dunn pack horse following. He reined up and froze as soon as he spotted me. Then turned tail and hustled back the way he had come. I had no idea who he was. I didn’t recognize him or the horse’s he had with him. His clothes confused me too. Jeans and a T-shirt wasn’t quite right for someone one used to the hills. But obviously he didn’t want to talk, So I let it go at that.
Mounting back up, I started catching up to the group. 2 minutes later, I caught up to Edgar.
I could tell that I was the very LAST thing he wanted to see. “Hey Edgar, what a coincidence running into you way out here in the wilderness. Care to explain why you aren’t with the rest of the group?”
He stammered around for a moment, “Well, I needed to use the rest room. I’m not quite so used to the breakfast we had.”
Disbelief was dripping from my voice, “Uh-huh, Well let’s get caught up before you get lost. Don’t worry, I’ll be right behind you. All The Way!”
And for the rest of the day, until we reached the base camp, I stayed behind him. Every time he started to lag behind, I would ask about his health, his horse’s health, his saddle, Etc. I made sure that he knew I was behind him. I didn’t know if he was an alcoholic or an addict. Either way I wanted somebody keeping an eye on him, all the time. Even if he didn’t have a substance issue going on. I didn’t want him wandering off, never to be seen again.
Getting the Base camp set up was a frenzy of activity, With Suzy as the boss. The fire pit was dug and lined and a wood gathering party dispatched. Much to his displeasure, Edgar was assigned the task of digging the latrine. With John as his designated supervisor. He only took 2 tries to get it right.
well before sundown, we were shipshape and Bristol fashion according to Suzy. She had started fixing our dinner and the rest of the group were setting up our individual sleeping spots.
After dinner, I bedded down and took a nap before my watch.
John had just woken me for my first watch and I was still a little drowsy and working in a STRONG cup of coffee, when Shadow started growling. He got up and walked over to the edge of the campsite. Then sat down, the low growl continued.
“Matt, “ John whispered “Do you see this?”
Before I replied I called Shadow to heel. He looked at me over his shoulder then came back and lay down next to Me. “Good boy, Shadow. I see him”. I continued in a low voice, “I see it John. He’s about 15 feet out. He isn’t doing anything, just watching.”
Chuckling John asked, “Do you think it’s Bigfoot?”
I laughed and said “Not unless the big guy has started wearing blue jeans and Queen t-shirts.”
“You’re kidding, right? Your eyes are that good?”
“Naw, I saw him earlier today. I had this feeling that we were being watched. Edgar was lagging behind and I was worried that he would get lost, drunk or stoned. I back trailed and was getting ready to surprise him, when this guy comes bee bopping along.”
“Didn’t he spot you?”
“Are you kidding? I made sure he did. I don’t know who he is. He could be a prepper, an off gridder, a pot farmer or a prospector. Or just plain lost. But I wanted to give him a chance to talk to me. As soon as he spotted me, He turned tail and headed the other way. He didn’t really seem to be dangerous, just clueless.”
“why didn’t you take him down?”
“John, He hasn’t done anything wrong, that I can tell. If we try to nab him, worst case, somebody would probably get hurt. Next worse we grab him, he clams up and we never find out what he’s up too. It’s too late now, He’s moved off.”
The stranger had moved off and disappeared. Shadow settled down. But I could tell he was still alert. The rest of the night passed without trouble, or visitors.
I had gotten Suzy up for her watch and to start breakfast. Before I could get bedded down, we were joined by the football player, Chuck.
“Mr. Reynolds, Could I talk to you sir.”
“Sure thing Chuck, only drop the Mr. Reynolds and sir crap. Just call me Matt and I’ll call you Chuck.”
It was almost like this kid was too shy to speak. He stammered for a second. Suzy looked at me and gave me a little shrug, then went back to making biscuits.
Chuck was talking to me, but he was watching Suzy, what she was doing. “OK, Matt, I was wondering if I could ask your advice. See, I’m at school on a football scholarship. It’s a free ride scholarship which was the only way I could get into college. Even a school like ISU.”
“Yeah, “ I replied, “I got that from before. You must be pretty good for a full ride.”
“That’s the thing Matt, I’m not that good. I’ll never be that good, and I know it. But this is the only way I can go to school. My folks don’t have a lot of money and there was no way they could afford this. I’m the first to graduate high school and go to college and my pappy puts a lot of stock in that.”