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Heron’s relaxing funny, sorry about your tranny story
The coffee shop was positioned in the greatest of places. Just before the top of the hill between one small town Aldergrove and the larger Langley City. It would later be used as a “location” for many A-list feature films.

But today that future was unknown. Today it was the planning location for the “Next great adventure.” Between the incredible pie and the strong coffee shop coffee was the map: a one to fifty detailed map of the end of BC and the beginning of Alberta.

“More Grizzly bears?” My hiking partner Keith asked looking at the side notations.

“Yeah I’ll bring the pump loaded with the super loud blanks and Dragons Breath rounds. It’ll be fine.”

We poured over the route that would take us North out of Creston into a mountain valley and up to Mount Evans. A ten day or two week hike.

The hours drifted by and our equipment lists got as long as the shadows. The coffee kept coming and just before midnight our plans were complete. We had agreed on our individual load outs and what we needed.

“So we leave Sunday afternoon?” Keith asked as I paid the bill.

“Yeah we’ll be going against the returning traffic, roads will be clear and we can crash in Creston late, pick up last minute frozen grocery stuff and get out of dodge.” I said in response as we left the Hill-top diner.

“Ok, I’ll see you at my place then.” Keith said getting into his lime green Cutlass Sport.

Creston Spring 1983

The sleepy town slowed our departure as very little had opened at the proclaimed 9am. It was nearing half past when the local grocery shop on the far end of town unlocked the front doors to two guys with backpacks stuffed to comical levels.

“Going hiking?” The shop keeper asked. We politely and silently left the stupid question hanging in the air as we dumped the loads by the doors and each grabbed baskets.

Ten minutes later we were out the door and into the Wild.

This area of BC/Alberta is gorgeous and wild. Logged earlier in the century the new growth and lushness stretched as far as you could see or walk in a week. Our route took us through the wet side of the river and into the giant scar that had taken this very river 100 thousand years to make.

We walked in comfortable silence to well into the afternoon passing through verdant river sides to alpine meadows and shale rock slides. We saw deer and evidence of Mountain Lion, bear spoor and were endlessly chided by squirrels.

It seemed the squirrel population had exploded. Each sentry would announce our departure from one territory and entrance into another.

We stopped for lunch and ate a large meal. Our vocal watchtower minders came in for a closer inspection and general foraging. Probing our defenses and picking up scraps. No doubt planning a nightly raid.

“We’re gonna half to hang out packs high with squirrel hats or something. These little fuckers will tear our backs apart.” I said handing Keith another bun loaded with ham and avocado.

“Yeah I got a tin plate like usual but...bush is so dense they are likely to airbourne in and chew away.”

“Yeah, let’s stop early tonight and get it sorted in good light. I don’t want to be carrying a fishnet stockings pack tomorrow.”

We continued up into the forest, gaining elevation. This made the ground more firm under our feet and allowed for a little more milage.

The afternoon chased and the race to evening being won we saw a clearing with a group of trees in the middle and a wide expanse to the next ring of trees. “This looks good.”

“Yeah stretch out two lines from the center and hang packs in the middle. Little bastards can’t parachute in and if we eat the beans tonight with peaches the two extra cans will cover those support lines.” Keith added in agreement.

We got we needed from our packs, and set to keeping our gear squirrel free. The end of our engineering saw the western sky explode in rusts, deep reds, and yellows. The mountains in the distance now blended with the darkening sky.

We had made the decision to sleep under the stars, but still being BC the tent was also erected to our left. We had a small fire going and I was slicing tuna to sear on a flat piece of shale while Keith was mixing Bannok (an Indian bread like biscuit).

“Bannok is done I’ll get our pads and bags set up under the inner circle of trees.” Keith said moving off about 10 yards.

“Ok” I said “I’ll get it going on the fire and grease the rock for the tuna. In my bag roll is a little something special, so don’t break it.”

A few minutes later I heard Keith find the extra.

“Oooh twenty year old Macallens. Yeah baby!”

“Bring it back with you. Starting the tuna.”

The conversation easily moved from topic to topic as we talked about girls, the future, and our final year in school. We had hiked together for years and our system was without distraction. The baked Bannok was consumed and the tuna washed down with scotch better sipped. But being young the delicacies of this were lost in basic hedonistic culinary consumption.

Nights inky black wrapped the world and the stars disappointed. It was not the night for star gazing despite a cloudless sky. Just the vast nothings of a moonless sky. Slightly drunk we retreated to our bags. I checked the shotguns chamber, empty, and safety, on. Pushed the action break and pulled the pump down a little and set it to my side. Now I could pick it up work the pump without messing with anything delicate. Keith turned off his headlamp and we went to bed.

I was woken up later by Keith voice telling me to quit snoring. This was not uncommon. But as I lay awake I heard an odd sound. Whaaanik whannnnick!

“Covey shut the fuck up.” Keith said.

“Wasn’t me” I replied.

“Shit!” Keith said startled. “What the hell is making that sound? It’s been at it for over an hour and driving me crazy.”

“I don’t know. Branches rubbing together in the tree?”

“Nah it’s an animal. I’ve been listening to it.”

“Shit, now I have to pee. Shine your headlamp into the tree and I’ll see if I can see anything while I am taking a piss.” I said grabbing the shotgun, and racking a round into the chamber in a move made popular by the Terminator movie.

The tree tops lit I looked while balancing the chore of going and not dropping the shotgun. Something moved as I went and the slight movement caught Keith’s attention too.

“Something is up there. Probably a horny squirrel orgy. On the second to left hemlock (Keith was studying forestry at this time) you see it?”

I did “Yeah I see it.” Finishing up and zipping safe I continued. “Going to pop off a blank and scare it off.”

I heard Keith say ok and I fired at the little darker bit in the darkness. These sonic boom rounds had lived up to their name in the past but the silence of the night and the acoustics of the place paired with sensitive ears and the effect was like a distraction grenade. BOOM!!!!!!

This was followed by a loud scream from Keith followed by followed by curses.

For a moment I thought something from the gun had impacted him. This was impossible but confusion is a bug bear. Grabbing the end of the barrel I could tell it was intact. I moved toward the Keith and the sweeping headlight. He was still in his bag. On him was a big round pig looking thing. I used the shotgun and tossed the pig off him. It landed and didn’t move.

“Fuck!!” Keith spoke. “Porcupine! You killed a porcupine, and dropped the fucker on me from twenty fucking feet in a tree. You fuck!!”

I could see quills in his chin and hands. “It was a blank!” I replied. “Let’s get the lights on.”

I got the fire going and retrieved my heavy mag light from under my pillow and got water on to boil before returning to Keith.

“Sorry,” Keith said. “I kinda lost my shit there...I didn’t expect someone to yellow brick road me with a fucking quill pig. How bad is it?”

With the big light I could see the quills in his bag and no doubt into his chest. He had loads in his hands and arms and a few in his chin. Having no doubt looked down at what had just landed on his chest. “Take a deep breath. Anything feel broken? Scratchy?”

Keith shook his head. I shone the light on the intruder and it was dead. I rolled it over with the flashlight. No blood.

“No blood” I repeated to Keith.

“Yeah fucker had a jammer and decided to kamakazi me death from above style. Get the leatherman out of my pants and start pulling quills. “

We continued the trip. So to be continued some day.

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[-] The following 4 users say Thank You to Scott7022 for this post:
  • Snikwahjm (01-10-2021), GotSmart (01-10-2021), heron (01-10-2021), GypsyDogs (01-11-2021)
I hate it when that happens  Tongue
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Omg, poor Keith! What did you do? Scare the poor quill piggy to death? Hope the poor guy had fewer quills in him than first thought.

Your story of squirrel proofing reminds me of my brother. When we were kids, he was always coming up with some Rube Goldberg contraption, with me as his eager assistant. He grew up and married Judy, a teacher from Ohio who had no idea what she was getting into. His idea of paradise was to have a yard full of “projects”, including a forty year old fire engine and a couple of cranes (NOT the birds). Judy’s was flowers, mowed lawns, and bird feeders. Poor, dear Judy.
Judy had managed a garden outside the kitchen window, and a couple of bird feeders to watch as she made dinner, and of course the squirrels invaded the feeders. She made the mistake of mentioning this to Steve, who immediately set about trying to get rid of them.
It’s not hard to imagine the chaos that ensued. He tried hanging the feeders from a line, to no avail, and it went from there. The final straw was when he came up with a huge, I mean enormous, horn that went off whenever a squirrel had the temerity to step on the line. I think that was when Judy realized she had to stand her ground with this man. Not awfully long after, the projects moved behind a line of trees; well, most of them, anyway, and Judy’s life became slightly less interesting, but much more content, I think.
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And, yes. The story was a wonderful distraction. Thank you.
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