The Fourth Annual Weenie Man Expedition
The Fourth Annual Weenie Man Portrait - Fred, Michael, Rob, and Gary (as photographed by a German tourist).
The Fourth Annual Weenie Man Portrait - Fred, Michael, Rob, and Gary (as photographed by a German tourist).

The year was 1994.

This tale must begin with a sad admission: I remember virtually nothing at all about this trip.

How, you might ask, could the Official Recording Secretary of the Weenie Men, and proud member of the Order of the Tarp, completely forget four days in the woods with the Weenie Men?

Well, I can come up with several excuses. Maybe it's due to the fact that I caught zero fish. That's right - I was skunked. For the first time in Weenie Man history, I did not catch a single trout in four solid days of fishing. Maybe my memory of the trip has faded because Gary failed to pull off a single life-threatening move. He didn't even melt his boots in the fire. Maybe it was the lack of flaming Jiffy Pop, for Mark had elected to skip this trip, awaiting a more worthy sleeping bag from Santa. All pretty good excuses, right?


The real reason is difficult for me to admit, especially in light of the fact that I made such fun of Michael for leaving early on the Third Annual Weenie Man Expedition. He left to be with his girlfriend. On this trip, I had just recently moved in with my girlfriend Teresa, and, well..., I missed her. That's right - I was homesick. All I could think of for the entire four days was Teresa. I would go on long, melancholy hikes, silently chanting my Fourth Annual Weenie Man Expedition mantra:

"Reese, rib eye, recliner... Reese, rib eye, recliner... Reese, rib eye, recliner."

Couple my homesickness with the fact that Teresa and I hiked up to the identical campsite just a couple of weeks later. Memories of this trip with Teresa have completely swamped out all but a few memories of the Fourth Annual Weenie Man Expedition. Yes, I still remember my trip with Teresa vividly. She is a much more cuddly tentmate than Rob, could start a fire as quickly as Michael, smelled better than Gary, and didn't shiver nearly as much as Mark.

But, before my Weenie Man credentials are confiscated, let it be known that I do remember one or two facts about this, the Fourth Annual Weenie Man Expedition.

Hazel Creek.
Hazel Creek.

For starters, I remember it was sometime in early October - the first Saturday through the following Wednesday - I think. And, we had decided once again to head for Hazel Creek. Rob and I, as was tradition, hiked in on Sunday. Yeah, I believe that's right.

Oh! There is one thing I remember clearly! This was the year that the "Evil Chair" made its first appearance. Gary, ever the slacker, had gone to the backpacking store and purchased a nifty little fold-up chair. It's something most folks would never think about, but there's nothing resembling a Lazy-Boy around the campfire. After a few days, you really do miss getting to lean back while relaxing. Gary had found a solution to this problem. And, for a price, he would allow his brother Weenie Men to spend a minute or two in the chair. I, having trimmed the weight of my backpack to a semi-comfortable 45 pounds, was not about to become addicted to some hefty two-pound device. I flatly refused to sit in the thing. I would not allow my butt to contact the canvas even on the one night Gary was feeling charitable, and was giving away free minutes in the chair. Rob, seeing the unnatural powers the chair had given Gary, actually coined the "Evil Chair" name. He sat for only a second or two. Michael, on the other hand, completely succumbed to the evil. He would keep the chair warm any time Gary left it unattended. Sadly, in the years to come, Rob too went to the dark side, purchasing a chair of his own. I remain the lone chair-less holdout.