The Sixth Annual Weenie Man Expedition
Weenie Man Rookie Clarence Rothrock embarasses the other Weenie Men with his fishing skills.
Weenie Man Rookie Clarence Rothrock embarasses the other Weenie Men with his fishing skills.

As Official Recording Secretary of the Weenie Men (Order of the Trap), I must begin this tale with a disclaimer - I was witness to none of the events described herein, and thus, am unable to attest to the accuracy of any of the events described. The only event that I can report with a reasonable level of confidence is the visit to the Weenie Man camp by a trouble-making bear, for I witnessed with my own eyes evidence of the destruction wrought by this beast. But more about that later.

That's right. I missed the Sixth Annual Weenie Man Trip. Worse yet, Rob also missed the trip, leaving Gary the Bartender as the only member of the Order of the Tarp to have attended every single Weenie Man gathering. I guess that makes him, more or less, King of the Weenie Men. Who would of thought that the man who almost killed himself with a rock-on-a-rope trick on the First Annual Weenie Man Expedition would live to reign as King. What a sad twist of Weenie Man fate.

Rob, the Rig Master, had the choice of either attending the gathering, or heading to the Colorado Rockies to go on a guided trout fishing expedition with his beautiful new bride, Rita. (Yes, the same Rita that made him the monster bag of cookies for the First Annual Weenie Man Expedition.) Put Rita and me in a side-by-side tentmate contest. Rita is as beautiful and sweet-natured a gal as the South could ever hope to produce. I, on the other hand, am an aging Weenie Man, prone on these trips to subsisting on a diet of Immodium and Slim Jim beef sticks. You can imagine the vile result of this diet, especially in the tight confines of a tent. So, as you might have guessed, Rob chose to head west.

I was well aware of the choice facing Rob. I was also keenly aware that of the fact that my employment situation was looking frightening bleak. And, I had still had some pretty vivid memories of my brush with death on the Fifth Annual Weenie Man Expedition. Given the combination of these factors, I decided to skip this trip.

Mark, the Load Master, due to factors beyond his control, also planned to skip this gathering.

Even the likelihood of Michael, the Fire Master, being able to attend the Sixth Annual Weenie Man Trip looked, for a while, to be bleak. Having been promoted to a product line manager, he was constantly flying all over the world, spending more time out of the country than back at home. It was a stroke of luck that he was even in the same hemisphere as Hazel Creek when time came for this Weenie Man Expedition.

In the meantime, Gary was desperately seeking a new Weenie Man recruit to fill the void left by his quickly deserting comrades. The company where most of the Weenie Men still worked had recently hired a young engineer by name of Clarence Rothrock. Gary somehow managed to talk "Rock" into accompanying him on this trip. As it turned out, it would have been difficult to come up with a more suitable Weenie Man Rookie.

Rock is a hulk of a guy. He stands well over 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighs at least 220 pounds. The first time I saw him come roaring into the parking lot on his motorcycle, his long black ponytail and beard flowing in the breeze, my initial reaction was to run like hell. He looked like the kind of guy that might kick a Weenie Man's butt just for entertainment. However, as time went by, I got to know Rock. Rather than being a big, tough, Weenie Man beater, he turned out to be a kind, soft-spoken, almost shy, Southerner. And, he lives to fly fish. Rather than use his frying pan sized hands for fist fights, he uses them to tie some of the most beautiful, precise, delicate trout fishing flies I have ever witnessed. And, he spends nearly every spare moment with a fly rod in his hands.

Gary and Rock headed up to the Smokies on a Thursday night in early October, stayed the night in a motel, then set out early the following morning for a hike up Hazel Creek. The following Saturday, Michael joined them.

In the past, Hazel Creek had been a very dependable source of trout fishing frustration for the Weenie Men. Phrases such as "aquatic sons of bitches" had been coined along its shores. However, Gary returned from this trip with amazing tales of hundreds of fish being pulled from the stream. He claimed to have caught in excess of 30 trout in a single day. He also claimed to have actually caught a fish by accident while making false casts in an attempt to straighten out his line. Michael had similar unbelievable stories. Quite naturally, Rob and I just assumed they were lying in an attempt to make us feel bad about missing the trip. Their reports of the number of fish caught on any particular trip have always been a bit suspect - fish tales, you might call them. However, I have never known Rock to exaggerate when it comes to fishing. He doesn't have to. He's good. And, much to my chagrin, he verified the tales told by Gary and Michael. The fickle Hazel Creek had indeed been very kind to them all.

So, not only had Rob and I unintentionally made Gary king of the Weenie Men, we had missed the best fishing trip in Weenie Man history.

Of course, every Weenie Man trip has its downside, and this trip was no exception. The first time I saw Rock after the trip, I asked, "So, how was it?"

"Check this out," he said, handing me a very damaged looking water bottle.

Now, these backpacking water bottles are nearly indestructible. I was amazed to find Rock's bottle filled with tears and puncture marks.

"Man! What happened?" I asked.

"Well, we spotted a bear running down the trail one day. That night, he decided to come by for a visit."

I immediately conjured up visions of the incident in my mind. I could just see the Weenie Men, half-naked, sleeping bags around their ankles, stumbling in terror through the darkness.

"Geeze, that must have been pretty scary!" I said.

"Well, no. Actually, we slept right through it."

I couldn't believe it! Michael's snoring could wake the entire camp, but a marauding bear went unnoticed. And, the bear must have been in camp for a while because Gary, too, had some of his equipment destroyed.

And so it is for the Weenie Men. Given the choice of fish accompanied by bears, or no fish at all, I guess I'm glad I missed the Sixth Annual Weenie Man Expedition!