Last Thanksgiving I was thrilled to spend some time with my Oklahoma family enjoying great food, bluegrass and some time at a hunting cabin up in the hills near the Arkansas and Oklahoma border. One of the greatest memories of the trip was the amazing peace I found "disconnecting" from technology for a few days. As much As I love the tech life (and trust me...I do!), it was therapeutic to turn it all off while I was there. With that in mind, this year when a friend of mine suggested that we celebrate the Holiday by taking a trip to the wilderness...I jumped at the opportunity.
The "wilderness" was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan..about 3 hours Northwest of anything considered a city. As we drove in before dawn, I knew we were in for an adventure as we made our way to the cabin (in our vehicle) and had to maneuver the truck in an effort to keep large snow covered tree branches from smacking the truck. We finally found a place to park, strapped on our backpacks and began to hike the rest of the way in.
We took propane, some food, some water, hunting items, a few layers of clothes, cooking utensils, whiskey, and a camera. Maybe a few other items I am forgetting...but, take my word for it....very few! Don't let the word cabin fool you either! It was, literally, shelter. There was no electricity all. The only water anywhere near us was at a Hand pump down the hill.
The bathroom was an outhouse past the firewood shed. The only heat that existed came from the wood burning stove in the cabin itself. I learned very quickly that knowing how to build a fire would be lifeskill...literally. Once the cabin warmed up, we were able to set up the cabin and get ready for a day of hunting.
I had a Michigan big game license so my ultimate goal was a deer. As it turned out, even after learning how to put up my own tree stand and wait very patiently, the deer were not interested in hunting games. I never even saw a track! I did, however, have a few attempts at a squirrel. No deal. Thankfully, my friend was an excellent hunter and despite my sorry attempt at providing some of the food, we still had amazing meals each day. He shot and then prepared a feast of squirrel on day one...pheasant on days two and three. It was incredible.
I was startled at how efficient you become very quickly. With limited daylight and much to do, I was up at sunrise and then called it a night at about 8 PM. I wish I could pull that off in my everyday life!
All in all, the lessons were many...but for those who may want to venture into the wilderness in the middle of a snow storm and survive with little more than a well pump, fire as warmth and a rifle...I have a few pointers I would like to pass on:
- When washing dishes at a well in the snow, do NOT grab the metal handle with wet hands. You will get stuck.
- Do NOT sit on the outhouse toilet seat with a bare butt. It is very similar to grabbing the well handle with wet hands.
- When carrying a hunting tree stand on your back, pay attention to where you step. Hitting a sheet of ice with the metal stand strapped to your back has no good end result.
- If your friend is much better at building a fire than you will ever be, it is acceptable to feign sleep until they have created enough warmth for the room to slip past the freezing mark. THEN you pretend to wake up.
- Hot Onion soup in a thermos while sitting in a tree stand waiting for deer to show up is better than, well, anything I can think of presently.
- Detaching from the outside world for a period of three days is the best Thanksgiving gift to give yourself....ever. I promise that the moment you step under a warm shower in a real bathroom you will be pretty darn thankful.
- Finally, and, most importantly...I learned that when you pack your backpack to leave, do NOT put the "Doe Urine Wafers" in your backpack unless you wish to have everything you own smell like, well, Doe urine. Make sure to put that in someone else's!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!