65 Jumps – Camping on Eagle Island

As summer of 2009 approached, our lives were a little different: I was unemployed, so economizing was more important; some of the Manhunt kids were in college, or on their way, so they had other priorities; Elaine’s new job at the local YWCA only gave her one week off during our desired time, and the Ampersand was continuing to replace the worn-out little old cabins with modern, well-appointed, spacious, and therefore pricier, units.

Seeking to embrace change, we planned our August vacation accordingly. Anna and I would go up the first week and camp on Eagle Island, while Elaine and Nate would join us for the second week, when we would stay in our usual unit, the Sunset. Another change in our lives was our wonderful new young dog, Halle, an Australian Cattle Dog mix we had acquired in the spring. Halle would go with us campers.

But that plan mutated even more. A few days before departure, Janet called, “Could David go with you for the camping week?” Anna and I consulted and agreed that a third human would be a good addition, if only to mitigate the boredom of she and I staring at each other for a week. So the four of us (Me, Anna, David, Halle the dog) set off early on Saturday morning. When we arrived early that afternoon, we were informed that the Sunset was not available and we were to be upgraded to the new Maples next week.

We motored out to Eagle Island, secured the boat, and commenced hauling our substantial stack of supplies up the hill to Tom’s Rock Camp. 120 paces – I counted them. One tent, three sleeping bags, one large air mattress (guilty!), two boxes of cooking & cleaning supplies, a case of bottled Nestea, five gallons of water, one bag of charcoal, four bags of groceries, three chairs, a Coleman stove, and various axes, knives, saws, matches, rope, flashlights, backpacks, toilet paper, soap, etc. Dave and I took the “lean-to,” (a very solid, substantial shelter with a wooden floor, stone walls on three sides, and a good roof) while Anna set up her small tent. Halle’s crate went in the lean-to.

The Clog

Tucked away on a flat stone shelf in the rear of the lean-to was a “clog,” or “camp log,” started by Jim & Lynda in late June. Their entry in the clog explained that they had been camping at Tom’s Rock for many years and invited others to share their experiences in the clog. They planned to return at the end of summer and hoped to find it intact. I obliged and wrote many pages in the log, including maps, diagrams, and crude sketches. I left a few bookmarks as well as my street address, with a note asking them to mail me copies of my entries. We’ll see.

Camping Non-Activities

To me, it seems that camping consists of not doing anything, but taking all day to do it. That is to say, just surviving (cooking, eating, cleaning the utensils, using the outhouse, arranging sleeping bags, washing up in the lake, gathering firewood, making a fire, drying out clothes, etc.) takes the whole day. Maybe we work in a hike or David goes fishing, maybe some reading. But that’s about it. We’re doing nothing, but we’re doing it in a wonderful place.

I sure enjoyed getting up at dawn, using the outhouse, letting Halle out, feeding her, brewing coffee, and sitting down to drink the coffee while reading my Greek book. Nothing better in life! In a couple hours, the others would get up, maybe we’d eat something together, and then, usually we’d take a hike to the Sister Islands or go back to the Ampersand or go into town. We typically returned to camp for dinner: hot dogs, hamburgers, or boneless chicken breast grilled over the fire. And a can of beans on the coals. Lots of beans. One evening I grilled peppers and onions. For lunch, tuna salad and PB&J were staples.

The Full Moon