I realized that if you guys enjoyed my story about the camping trip; i must have pissed you guys off with all the separate parts and the time and posts in between. so here’s the whole thing to anyone who wants to read it all at once!
Like most kids nowadays I have never been camping. My family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado a few days ago from Chicago. When we first moved here; I wasn’t exactly in the best mood about it. Leaving all my friends and the rest of my family to move to this place? As soon as I stepped out of the car I almost gagged. “There’s no air!” I yelled to my dad, who was walking around smiling his fucking head off. “Calm down, Marshall; the air’s just thinner up here. You’ll adjust.” That’s my dad, always looking out for me. You could ask what my mom thought about this, but my mom isn’t here. In fact she hasn’t been around these past few years ever since my parents split up. We used to have that nice “picture perfect” family everyone used to laugh and yearn for. But that was just was my public family; the family everyone thought we were.
They fought a lot, most of the time about me. They never told me that, but I knew. Anyway that wasn’t really the whole reason they split up. I had come home from school and went to check on my mom. She had been sick recently and had been staying home. Well, when I opened the door she seemed to be feeling better; especially with the guy in her bed that wasn’t my dad. To make a long story short; she saw me, tried to explain, and cried in the bathroom for a few hours. Dinner that night was anything but decent. My mom stared at her plate the whole time, eyes puffy red. I kind of sat there in a daze, not really knowing what to do. And then I remembered my dad; he didn’t even know yet. I couldn’t take it, so I excused myself from the table. I gave her a look that I kind of regret now; the kind of hateful look that can break down a person.
I didn’t wait for her to say anything, I didn’t want to see my dad’s reaction, I didn’t want to see or hear anything. It was only six forty five at night, but I crawled into bed anyway. It wasn’t long before the shouting started. I didn’t move; I didn’t blink. It wasn’t until I heard the smashing that I remembered to breath. They had fought and thrown things at each other; shouting out incoherent words. Eventually my dad stormed out, driving to God knows where. I’m not sure what went through her head at the time, but she started cleaning. Maybe a physical therapy for what had happened? I don’t know. She was gone the next morning, and I haven’t seen her since.
Now, Back to when we got to Colorado. Dad was walking around smiling once again, and I was in the car with the windows rolled down; trying to get as much oxygen as possible. Unless I was looking directly to the east, the Rocky Mountains showed up in my field of vision. To tell you the truth, they made me nervous; like a giant tidal wave was about to crash on the city. Dad got back into the car, and kept driving. Eventually we drove up into said cursed mountains and stopped God knows where. “Here we are!” he beamed. I looked out the windshield and squinted to read the sign.
“Mirror Lake Trail head?” I said, giving him a real skeptical look. We got out and approached the sign. Reading further on, I almost passed out again; this time not from the atmosphere. “Six miles?!” I screamed. “There’s no way I’m walking six miles to a dumb lake and back!” my dad laughed, “Actually Marshall…” This is where I almost made a dash for the car. Dad only says actually and pauses when I know things are going to get worse. “…it’s six miles to the lake. It’s a twelve mile hike!” He just kept laughing and laughing. I’ll say this, and I’m not proud of it. I made quite a scene when he said those words. My dad ended up having to revive me after I fainted, and then had to pry my fingers loose from the car door. I mean come on; I’m a city kid. We don’t do nature and wild animals. The closest thing I’d come to a wild animal was the time my neighbor had lost her cat and I’d found it in our closet giving birth on my mom’s slippers.
After an hour of loading the gear, we were ready to head off. I’ll also admit, and I’m still not proud of this one, it was beautiful. I’d never been around so many trees at once. It was completely silent, not a car honking or Italian cab driver shouting anywhere. I was thinking this until the first mile in. I saw some yellow poking through the trees and broke out into a run. I soon recognized them as tents; I almost cried out of happiness (in a manly way may I remind you!). The backpack I was wearing weighed about a thousand pounds from all the food we had to bring; not to mention the exposure I was sure to die from. “Marshall…remember I told you? We have at least another mile to go before it gets dark. What are you stopping for?” I swear this guy’s trying to kill me.
* * *
Strangely enough; it was my dad that collapsed this time when we stopped. Maybe the elevation finally took its toll, or maybe he shouldn’t have eaten those berries we found; but either way, we had made it. Made it to what you may ask? Oh yes, just the entire campsite under a foot of water! It was getting dark; and even I knew that it was becoming a necessity to find a camp site soon. Climbing a hill, we found a semi -open spot, well hidden, and with a rock fire ring. “This isn’t right.” Dad stated pulling out the biggest map I’d ever seen. “There isn’t a ninth campsite in this area; this is an illegal one.”
“Dad, I understand you like to stick to rules and all, but there’s nowhere else to go. It’s too late and too dangerous to head back or forward. Now, unless you prefer sleeping underwater; I suggest we stay here.” In the end he agreed. We made a fire, wolfed down our dinner, and hung the rest from a tree. After dad caught me trying to sneak some pop tarts into the tent, we went to bed.
Morning came too quickly, as it always does. Poking my head out of the tent, I gazed at something truly beautiful. My dad was cooking bacon! The food of all foods, the holy grail of pork made dishes; it was bacon! In between a butter croissant, forget it. Suddenly this camping trip seemed that much better. I was disappointed about the quick breakfast, but enjoyed it extensively. Skipping ahead to that evening, it was near dark when the next campsite came into view. In between my heaving I managed to choke out, “We…only hiked…two miles…and…it took…the whole…day!?” To explain why this was an issue, the last two miles were entirely up hill, with our heavy packs weighing us down. With the constant stops to rest and adjust to the altitude, we took a while.
It hadn’t rained tonight luckily, so setting up the tent was a breeze. Just sitting around the campfire, chatting and enjoying tasty snacks; it was kind of fun. Dusk had just fallen, the last rays of the sun disappearing behind the mountains. In the two miles we had hiked, we had managed to circle around and rest at the end of a valley. The lake was just another two miles up the mountain. Dad had said we would leave the packs here this time. The bats had come out to hunt, flying only a few feet above our heads. They zipped and dipped around catching insects over and over. There must have been dozens of them up there.
“Hello?” I could just barely hear it. A small and almost indiscernible sound against the wind. “Did you hear that?” I asked my father. He looked up; half a Slim Jim hanging from his mouth. We heard it again. Faint, but coming closer. “Hello?” he asked. Almost immediately we heard another reply. Out of the darkness came two figures. One was a girl about my age, and a man that I assumed was her father. They had gotten off the trail coming down from the mountain, and had been turned around. There were plenty of campsites in the immediate area, so they decided to sleep here.
* * *
The lake was beautiful. Crags on the east side of the lake rising high and mighty, cutting right into the mountain. The water was calm and the lake was deserted. Plenty of trout were feeding; throwing themselves out of the water to catch mayflies and other insects. I had never seen something so amazing; there were waterfalls from the lake leading to a river that ran down the mountain. The girl and her father decided to tag along with us. The father’s name was Rob, the kind of average Joe name. Her name was Marceline. I had honestly never heard that name before, but it suited her. Plus she was cute, so I was happy they were coming along.
The day was… ok. If you include falling into the lake while trying catch a fish. Marceline thought it was hilarious. After spitting the fish I had tried to catch out of my mouth, I laughed too. Dad seemed to have fun. He and Rob laughed and joked around as if they had been friends all their lives. It really freaked me out.
The day after we set out for home, I thanked God that the packs were lighter. Especially with all the food gone. I don’t know if I could live another day on blueberry nutria grain bars and frozen bananas. This boy needed a double cheese burger. It seemed to go by too quick, mostly because the trail was downhill the majority of the way back. I can’t really explain the feelings I had when I saw the car. The closest I could explain was a mixture between joy and sadness. I had grown to love the outdoors; the silence of the meadows, and the cool fresh smell of cleanliness. But, all good things usually come to an end.
We packed up and just as I was heading for the door handle; someone tapped my shoulder. It was Marceline. Her car was actually parked only a few spots from our own. “So, I’ll see you at school?” she smiled. Earlier before we left, she and I had struck up a conversation. Turns out, she lived in the same town, and was going to the same school I had transferred to.
“Yeah, I’ll see you there.” I said scratching the back of my head in nervousness. She laughed; something which I had grown to like. Then kissed my cheek and ran to her car. I don’t really know how long I stood there. But once my face turned blue and I remembered to breathe again, I got in the car.
“I know this isn’t Chicago Marshall, but do you think you might like it here?” Dad asked. I could tell he was nervous; this was a fresh start for the both of us.
I looked out the window, seeing the other car leaving. Marceline sticking out of the window waving goodbye. I blushed slightly and turned to my dad. “I think I could.” We then drove off out of the mountains and back into the city. I could say that the rest of the week went pretty well, but you might call me a liar. Moving all my stuff into the house went a little slow, especially when the moving guy dropped my bass guitar in the yard. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the mud out, but otherwise it went well. That is until I found out that my Dad forgot to pick up any bacon. “Noooooo!!”