I started my outdoor adventure at a young age. I had a step-dad who took me fishing. I wouldn’t call fishing an adventure. I had a bad x trip once and I thought I was in hell. You want to know what I was doing in hell, fishing. Doing the same thing over and over to catch something you really don’t want, or even worse, to throw it back is like trying to get laid in high school. If you do get lucky, you don’t want it anymore. But it was outdoors, so I can classify it as my worst adventure ever. Now for the best adventure ever!!! My first backpacking trip.
I was 13 or 14, before I did backpacking. This was a curious age for me because I was into comic books and Megadeth. I may have even had a mullet but that cannot be confirmed or denied without an actual picture. Needless to say, this combination proved to be more than interesting on my first backpacking adventure. I had a great time–can’t say the same for my tent mates , Jade and Jason.
It was a scout activity. The scoutmaster knew about an isolated lake less than 1 mile off the road. It was called Ruth Lake and 30 years ago hardly anyone knew of its existence. There wasn’t even a parking lot. We just parked on the dirt shoulder. Today there are a couple of pit toilets and enough parking for 20 cars. Last time I was up there, the world’s largest scout troop of, about 30 kids, were there. They managed to pack 20 Little Caesar’s pizza’s in, because who wants to roast hot dogs or cook tin -foil dinners.
Previous to jumping in the car with my scout troop and best friend at the time, Jade, I had read a comic book that featured John Jameson aka Man-wolf (totally hardcore sounding right?). I can’t remember what particular group I was listening to at the time but I am sure it was Megadeth. Anyway,I left them behind to experience a new adventure.
Now anyone, who has camped within 5 miles of scouts can tell you what a pleasant experience it is. I would put it right up there with sliding down a 2x4 studded with broken glass. Yes, scouts are that bad. The best part about camping near them is that you can pick them up and throw them at hungry bears. The best thing that can happen, to anyone camping near scouts, is a rain and thunderstorm of epic proportions. Most scouts don’t like rain and thunder, Therefore, the scouts stay in their tent. For any scouts sharing a tent with me, it becomes supper exciting!!!
As lightning and thunder crashed all around Jade, Jason and I huddled in our sleeping bags protected from the elements. As time went on, I started to become bored. Jade and Jason decided to go to sleep. I had to find something to entertain me and keep my mind off the storm. I remembered my temporary, favorite, comic- book character and decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to role play. I pulled my head inside the sleeping bag and started screaming. “I am man-wolfy, I am changing.” After a few minutes of screaming and growling, I would thrust my hand outside of the sleeping bag and say “I am man-wolfy,. I like to pet peoples faces”. At this point I would reach over and start petting Jade’s face. Why Jade and not Jason? Because deep down inside I knew Jade thought it was as awesome as I did.
Jade would start hitting and yelling at me and I would return to the depths of my man-wolf cave. Silent cheers of victory swept through his mind as Man-wolf reverted to his human form, the lead singer of Megadeth. Thats right! As soon as Man-wolf changed back into a man, he would start singing loudly and off key “What do you mean I don’t believe in God, I talk to him everyday. Peace sells but who’s buying”. After I repeated the only three parts I knew over and over for five minutes, Man-wolf would start changing. Once the change was complete, Jade got another dose of face petting.
This continued all night until about 5 in the morning. Jason and the others decided to get up and start a campfire. I remember a few snarky comments about “annoying”,”asshole” and “couldn’t sleep”. I am not sure to whom the remarks were directed but I think it was Jade. At some point in the night, he crossed the line with a comment about Smokey the Bear and preventing forest fires.
Ruth Lake will always have a warm spot in my heart. I have returned many times with friends and visit it yearly. If you are new to backpacking, remember that scouts are not conducive to an enjoyable experience. They are like wild animals, better left alone.