WILDERNESS STORIES, Part 4: Cowboy Breakfast & Bee Belly

The least exciting meal of the day for me is breakfast. It feels like a rushed routine, which shouldn’t come as a surprise after hitting snooze at least three times. In the woods, it is different. Breakfast is our favorite. Morning rays warm the tent to a toasty cocoon, and I hit the imaginary snooze while my boyfriend rises to get the fire started.

                                     

Have you ever watched someone make fire? Not douse with lighter fluid and throw on a match, but actually kindle a fire. My boyfriend has managed with just a piece of flintstone. I watched, intrigued, as though witnessing a lion tamer. All that masterful orchestration of wind, spark, and twig; tenderly coaxing and coddling the flame to hunger and knowing just how much to feed. It is an art. Once the fire blazes to life I blow on it with authority a few times—to contribute.

A morning meal cooked over a fire is always deemed “cowboy breakfast.” Smart backpackers bring freeze-dried everything because it’s light. We take cowboy breakfast far too seriously to pack wisely. A typical menu looks like this: scrambled eggs, bacon or steak, corn pancakes with maple syrup, all washed down with coffee or hot chocolate. To preserve space and freshness eggs are cracked at home, sealed in container and frozen; meat is frozen; and dry pancake mix is stored in a Ziploc bag. Last trip we forgot to pack a spatula so Kevin found a handy sized branch and whittled one. Yes, the man makes fire and whittles. Swoon!

                          

Bees swarmed our campsite the entire stay. This sounds like a scene from a horror film but no, these bees came in peace. They just wanted to hang, buzz gossip, and do some light investigation. Unfortunately, one of the more intimate inspections involving Kevin’s belly button went awry. Tummy at capacity from cowboy breakfast, he bent over and the poor little guy was trapped in a death fold. I don’t blame him. He had no chance of escape and panicked. Kevin’s diet commenced shortly after the trip.

The day was crisp and ours, so after breakfast we decided to hike to another lake. Reaching our destination at the opposite side of the hill would entail going around, over, probably not under, or there was rumor of a shortcut straight through. My adventure cap firmly on, I suggested we explore our way to the shortcut. Going around would be dull and going over would be impossible. Going over would mean scaling a wall of stacked boulders that serve as pathway for the springtime waterfall. Going over would mean missing a step and falling to certain death.

                                     

“Nah, let’s go over,” he says. My alma mater’s motto was “learn by doing.” I suppose if this applies to microeconomics it can apply to rock climbing. He did some coaxing, I made some requests regarding cremation and funeral services, and off we went. As luck would have it, I didn’t die. Climbing was fun and the view supreme. I was rewarded with the surprise of a pristine lake at the very top; a mystical lake containing virgin mountain trout that give you life everlasting or superpowers depending on how they’re cooked.

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