The First Annual Weenie Man Expedition

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"Man, is that someone snoring?", I asked incredulously.

"It can't be. Gary and Michael are camped a good thirty feet from us", Rob replied.

We continued to listen, and after a while determined that it was indeed one of the other Weenie Men sawing logs at incredible volume.

The next morning, gathered around the breakfast rock, we asked who was responsible for all commotion the previous night.

"It was Michael!", Gary reported. "You think it was loud in your tent? You should have been sleeping three feet away. It scared the shit out of me!"

Michael offered apologies, the rest of us offered laughter, and Michael was destined to sleep alone in his own tent on all future Weenie Men expeditions.

The next few days were filled with hiking and fishing, with everyone eventually catching at least one small trout. The evenings were filled with the ritual water boiling, tales of the big one that got away, and general, all-around Weenie Man camaraderie. The Chevis forced me to admit that the real reason I had quit using my waders was due to a fly fishing mishap. I had attempted to set the hook on a small trout, only to have the hook come rocketing out of the water, implanting itself in my waders, and rendering them useless as a sieve. Everyone had to horn in on the Fire Masters domain, offering various methods of poking the fire. The "Western 3/4 Tap" and the "Eastern Full Stomp" methods of campfire poking were invented. Gary became so adept at snuffing out a roaring campfire with a single, misplaced poke, that his poking stick had to be confiscated, and his poking restricted to shortly before bedtime, when "the poking lamp was lit".

On the final day before our departure, I hiked downstream toward where Michael and Rob were fishing. As I crested a hill and looked down the trail, I spotted them. It was obvious by the huge grins on their faces that someone must have caught a pretty good fish. They came rushing excitedly up the trail to meet me, and told me that Rob had landed two beautiful rainbows - an 18 incher and a 12 incher. We all took turns fishing near where these good trout had been taken. Rob even pointed out a huge fish in the stream and allowed me, to no avail, to cast to it.

Rob casting a line to the spot where he hauled in an 18-inch rainbow.
Rob casting a line to the spot where he hauled in an 18-inch rainbow.

We returned to camp as night was setting in. All the Weenie Men were very generous with their food around the supper rock that night, giving away free samples to any takers, in hopes of not having to carry it back down the trail the following day. There were still plenty of Rob's cookies to go around, even though all of us had taken a heavy toll on the huge bag over the previous days.

As night fell, and the rain started to come down more heavily than usual, we realized that we had neglected to collect firewood for our last night's campfire. Rob, still jazzed up on adrenaline from catching the monster fish of the trip, proceeded to run all through the woods, kicking over stumps to use as firewood. Gary and Michael's flashlights could be seen dancing up and down the mountainside above camp as they threw rocks high into the trees in an vain attempt to knock down deadwood. The Weenie Men had a grand old time sitting around the campfire that night, their rainsuits steaming from the combination of a warm campfire and the cool rain.

The following day we broke camp, packed up our gear, heavy with the previous night's rain, and hiked back down to Fontana Lake. Much to our great joy, the boat guy from the dock showed up on time to haul us back to civilization. My first cold, non-smoke-flavored Diet Coke back at the dock was heavenly.

That night, back at my apartment, I noticed that I couldn't stand the racket of a television or radio. I truly missed the quiet of the woods. As I absent-mindedly prepared my first meal back in civilization, I looked at the stove and realized that I had automatically began boiling a large pot of water. The water boiling ritual had become a part of me. Later, as I stretched out on my warm, dry, comfortable bed, miles from the closest bear or snorer, and exhausted from the day's hike, I was surprised to find I couldn't fall asleep. I missed the soothing sound of Eagle Creek. I was a Weenie Man.