Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 32, part 2: Hungry

It is getting dark, but on all banks I see only the stair-steps of knee-deep, boot-sucking mud. But I have no choice. If I look around one more corner, there won't be enough light for me to set up my tent and cook dinner, and I am very hungry.

For several days I have been out of snack food and have been subsisting solely on a pot of oatmeal in the morning and a can of pasta in the evening. This is light fare for adventuring, and I have to draw my pants tighter and tighter as the fat has melted off my body.

Tonight I vow to have a double dinner, and start upping my food intake in general.

I can't do anything with the canoe but leave it in the water, tied with two ropes to trees on shore. I have to climb up and through and down a four foot slope of mud to move my camping supplies onto dry ground, a trip I try to make as few times as possible tonight. I take up two cans for dinner. These cans are unlabeled because when my boat got swamped the other night at the park, the can labels became a soupy mess, which I decided to just dispose of. So, it is a double dinner surprise tonight.

The first can itself is extra large, and on opening it I discover it is a double helping of vegetable soup. I pour it into my pot, and put that on my lit stove. It cooks for a while and I put my spoon in to stir it, but I clumsily upset the whole stack of stove, pot and soup, which pours into holes in the mud, the fuel still burning! I have to empty my water bottle to stop the fire.

The next can is also vegetable soup, and I am able to successfully cook and eat it. But although I am still hungry I am not willing to climb out over the mud to retrieve another can of food.

Putting into bed, my mind, which now has some fuel to work with, put a few things together I had seen as I was setting up my tent. A white building, just to my south. What looked to be a sign, just to my north. A pickup truck, driving and then stopping to examine what I was doing. For allI know I am camping in someone's backyard but it is too late to do anything about it. It is too dark, too muddy, I am too tired.

As usual my mind brought to consciousness all the fears and doubts I have about this location, and it is astonishing how well it is able to accomplish this task. It seems that every gust of wind, every rustle of leaves, is turned into the voices of accusers in the distance. I know this is not real, that it is only a testament to what my subconscious can accomplish with the overtones of these sounds.

I realize how every place I have slept for a month, I have worried about what people would think of me camping there, what they would do if they found me, and so on. But for a month I have not heard a bad word from anyone, and only positive words and encouragement from those who stumble across what I am doing. All my friends assure me that landowners expect some use of the shores of rivers for cooking and camping, and who could complain when I explain what I am trying to accomplish?

But still, I have a trump card to play on my subconscious when these doubts arise. An old adage I must have picked up from some forgotten source: "If someone has a problem withme, and doesn't tell me about it, then it isn't my problem."

My trump card played, I go to bed. There are no voices in the wind. And though I am not happy about my site this evening, I have no worries.

A weasel snuck into my canoe during the night, and banged my cans and trash about. Not wanting to cross the mud, and having nothing worth throwing at it, I let it do what it will.

I sleep soundly, and in my dreams the family in the white house invite me in for breakfast in the morning.

Day 32 ended: 50*46.063N, 105*44.321

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