Rockers and Outdoorsmen, Parts Unknown, WA, 1991
Updated: Mar 25
In high school, as soon as we had licenses, my friends and all were quick to start enjoying our great State of Washington outside of the neighborhoods we grew up in. We'd cut out to go camping in a few places in the state but our favorite go-to was the anywhere in the Olympic National Forest. This was back before the mad rush to this state - and at the time it was inconceivable it could become so crowded at places we never gave a second thought to being "in the middle of nowhere".
One trip we took out past Hoodsport in 1991 we decided we had to "really" camp. For us this meant outside your normal campgrounds. So, we struck out one morning packing in everything we'd need to make it 2 or 3 days.
We came upon a small stream and continued up it for a couple hours - we wanted the great outdoors so we went deep! When we got up into the clearing our band of five or six got to work getting the site going. We started digging a fire pit, bringing up rocks from the creek. I was bet that I couldn't chop this particular tree down with just my hatchet - so of course my 19 year old self had to begin that immediately.
The tree came down after an hour - rendering my chopping arm useless for a good two weeks but much like Marty McFly not being able to stand being called chicken, I didn't much like being told I couldn't do something. Now, 30 years later, there are so many things I can't do that I take it far less seriously.
Luckily we packed in some rope and a few boxes of Ken Griffey, Jr. souvenir baseball bats from a Mariner's game. They weren't good for hitting but boy did they burn great! I can still picture the embers in the form of a bat.
We needed a way to haul some firewood to our site so we used the rope and a bat to create a pretty cool pulley system to move wood that was already on the ground closer to our fire pit so we could chop it and start a fire for the night. Canned soup was a popular option and easy to cook - a pair of pliers to save the fingers from burning and pop it on a rock for 30 minutes.
The fire was smokey due to wet wood but it was good enough for warmth and dryness.
After we had our shelter and fire done - it was time for a nap before the obligatory manhunt game with no borders! As soon as night descended any animals in the area were probably freaked out by teenage boys rebel yells and screams of shock and fear. In the deep forest, no flashlights allowed during the game.. you can imagine the frenetic running and hiding.
Someone, during this game, found that our friend Richard had brought a bag of Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups. That someone, lowered them from their safe perch in a tree and ate all of them before hoisting the empty bag safely back up in the tree.
Later that night as we were sitting around the fire telling stores we heard Richard howl out from the dark in misery upon finding his much looked forward too treats were gone. It is hilarious if you aren't him!
For me, it is important to remain fresh and clean even when in the middle of nowhere. I have many times found a creek or stream and woke up and did the full shaving and bathing thing. Here is photographic proof that men will still tend to clean up even if there isn't a woman around to yell at us.
In case you're not awake enough, submersing your head in cold Olympic Mountains water will clear you up pretty dang quick. We also did our dishes and such here, about 50 yards from our campsite.
By the end of even a good camping trip, it is always good to pack up and head home. We cleaned up our site - but left the fire pit... I wonder if I could find it today.
Also interesting to me, as I'm a car guy, is that we managed to hit all our spots usually in my buddy's '68 Mustang and my '79 Camaro. We went up trails and logging roads that most people won't take their all wheel drive SUV's and Subaru's today, begging the question, who needs one?
You'll note from the very first picture in this story that my Camaro's trunk had just enough room for my backpack and sleeping bag. It isn't too far from the truth - I always marveled at how a car so big could have so small a trunk.