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Author of “The Blazed Trail," “ Conjuror's House," etc.


Chapter IV.—On Making Camp


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" Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight? Who hath smoked fuel to boil tea, or a winter's

heard the birch log burning? Who is quick to read the noises of the night?

consultation with

expert architect; Let him follow with the others, for the young men's feet whether your camp is to be made on the

are turning To the camps of proved desire and known delight."

principle of Omar's one-night Sultan, or

whether it is intended to accommodate N the Ojibway language wigwam the full days of an entire summer. means a good spot for camping, a But to those who tread the Long Trail

place cleared for a camp, a camp as an the making of camp resolves itself into an abstract proposition, and a camp in the con- algebraical formula. After a man has crete as represented by a tent, a thatched traveled all day through the northern shelter, or a conical teepee. In like manner, wilderness he wants to rest, and anything the English word camp lends itself to a that stands between himself and his variety of concepts. I once slept in a repose he must dispose of with as few four-poster bed over a polished floor in an notions as is consistent with reasonable elaborate servant-haunted structure which, thoroughness. The end in view is a hot mainly because it was built of logs and meal and a comfortable dry place to sleep. overlooked a lake, the owner always spoke The straighter he can draw the line to of as his camp. Again, I once slept on a those two points the happier he is. bed of prairie grass, before a fire of dried Early in his woods experience Dick buffalo chips and mesquite, wrapped in a became possessed with the desire to do single light blanket, while a good vigorous everything for himself. As this was a rain-storm made new cold places on me laudable striving for self-sufficiency, I and under me all night. In the morning called a halt at about three o'clock one the cowboy with whom I was traveling afternoon in order to give him plenty of remarked that this was “ sure a lonesome time. proposition as a camp."

Now Dick is a good, active, able-bodied Between these two extremes is infinite boy, possessed of average intelligence and variety, grading upwards through the rather more than average zeal. He even divers bivouacs of snow, plains, pines, or had theory of a sort, for he had read varihills, to the bark shelter; past the dog- ous “Boy Campers, or the Trapper's tent, the A-tent, the wall-tent, to the Guide,” “How to Camp Out,” “ The Scielaborate permanent canvas cottage of the ence of Woodcraft,” and other able works. luxurious camper, the dug-out winter He certainly had ideas enough, and conretreat of the range cowboy, the trapper's fidence enough. I sat down on a log. cabin, the great log-built lumber-jack At the end of three hours' flusteration, communities, and the last refinements of heat, worry, and good hard work, he had sybaritic summer homes in the Adiron- accomplished the following results. A dacks. All these are camps. And when tent, very saggy, very askew, covered a you talk of making camp you must know four-sided area—it was not a rectanglewhether that process is to mean only a of very bumpy ground. A hodge-podge search for rattlesnakes and enough acrid- bonfire, in the center of which an inaccess"Copyright, 1903, by the Outlook Company.

ible coffee-pot toppled menacingly, alternately threatened to ignite the entire with the lonely, forlorn, lost-dog feeling surrounding forest or to go out altogether

that clutched him after it was all over. I through lack of fuel. Personal belong- could remember how big and forbidding ings strewed the ground near the fire, and and unfriendly the forest had once looked provisions cumbered the entrance to the to me in like circumstances, so that I had tent. Dick was anxiously mixing batter felt suddenly thrust outside into empty for the cakes, attempting to stir a pot of spaces. Almost was I tempted to interrice often enough to prevent it from burn- vene; but I liked Dick, and I wanted to ing, and trying to rustle sufficient dry do him good. This experience was harwood to keep the fire going. This diver- rowing, but it prepared his mind for the sity of interests certainiy made him sit up seeds of wisdom. By the following mornand pay attention. At each instant he ing he had chastened his spirit, forgotten had to desert his flour-sack to rescue the the assurance breathed from the windy coffee-pot, or to shift the kettle, or to dab pages of the Boy Trapper library, and hastily at the rice, or to stamp out the was ready to learn. small brush, or to pile on more dry twigs. Have you ever watched a competent His movements were not graceful. They portraitist at work? The infinite pains a raised a scurry of dry bark, ashes, wood skilled man spends on the preliminaries dust, twigs, leaves, and pine needles, a before he takes one step towards a likeness certain proportion of which found their nearly always wears down the patience of way into the coffee, the rice, and the the sitter. He measures with his eye, he sticky batter, while the smaller articles of plumbs, he sketches tentatively, he places personal belonging, hastily dumped from in here a dab, there a blotch, he puts the duffel-bag, gradually disappeared from behind him apparently unproductive view in the manner of Pompeii and ancient hours—and then all at once he is ready Vesuvius. Dick burned his fingers and to begin something that will not have to stumbled about and swore, and looked so be done over again. An amateur, however, comically-pathetically red-faced through is carried away by his desire for results. the smoke that I, seated on the log, at He dashes in a hit-or-miss early effect, the same time laughed and pitied. And which grows into an approximate likeness at the last, when he needed a continuous almost immediately, but which will require steady fire to fry his cakes, he suddenly infinite labor, alteration, and anxiety to discovered that dry twigs do not make beat into finished shape. coals, and that his previous operations The case of the artist in making camps had used up all the fuel within easy circle is exactly similar, and the philosophical

reasons for his failure are exactly the So he had to drop everything for the

To the superficial mind a camp is purpose of rustling wood, while the coffee a shelter, a bright fire, and a smell of chilled, the, rice cooled, the bacon con- cooking. So when a man is very tired gealed, and all the provisions, cooked and he cuts across lots to those three results. uncooked, gathered entomological speci- He pitches his tent, lights his fire, puts

At the last, the poor bedeviled over his food—and finds himself drowned theorist made a hasty meal of scorched in detail, like my friend Dick. food, brazenly postponed the washing of The following is, in brief, what during dishes until the morrow, and coiled about the next six weeks I told that youth, by his hummocky couch to dream the night precept, by homily, and by making the mares of complete exhaustion.

solution so obvious that he could work it Poor Dick! I knew exactly how he felt, out for himself. how the low afternoon sun scorched, how When five or six o'clock draws near, the fire darted out at unexpected places, begin to look about you for a good level how the smoke followed him around no dry place, elevated some few feet above matter on which side of the fire he placed the surroundings. Drop your pack or himself, how the flies all took to biting beach your canoe.

Examine the location when both hands were occupied and how carefully. You will want two trees about they all miraculously disappeared when ten feet apart, from which to suspend he had set down the frying-pan and knife your tent, and a bit of flat ground underto fight them. I could sympathize, too, neath them. Of course the flat ground

of the camp.



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need not be particularly unencumbered by In a wooded country you will not take brush or saplings, so the combination ought the time to fool with tent-poles. A stout not to be hard to discover. Now return line run through the eyelets and along the to your canoe. Do not unpack the tent. apex will string it successfully between

With the little ax clear the ground your two trees. Draw the line as tight as thoroughly. By bending a sapling over possible, but do not be too unhappy if, strongly with the left hand, clipping after your best efforts, it still sags a little. sharply at the strained fibers, and then That is what your long crotched stick is bending it as strongly the other way to for. Stake out your four corners. If you repeat the ax stroke on the other side, get them in a good rectangle and in such you will find that treelets of even two or relation to the apex as to form two isosthree inches diameter can be felled by celes triangles of the ends, your tent will two blows. In a very few moments you stand smoothly. Therefore be an artist, will have accomplished a hole in the for- and do it right. Once the four ccrners est, and your two supporting trees will are well placed, the rest follows naturally. stand sentinel at either end of a most Occasionally in the north country it will respectable-looking clearing. Do not be found that the soil is too thin, over the unpack the tent.

rocks, to grip the tent pegs. In that case Now, although the ground seems free drive them at a sharp angle as deep as of all but unimportant growths, go over it they will go, and then lay a large flat stone thoroughly for little shrubs and leaves. across the slant of them. Thus anchored They look soft and yielding, but are often you will ride out a gale. Finally, wedge possessed of unexpectedly abrasive roots. your long sapling crotch under the line Besides, they mask the face of the ground. outside the tent, of course—to tighten it. When you have finished pulling them up Your shelter is up. If you are a woodsby the roots, you will find that your sup- man, ten or fifteen minutes has sufficed to posedly level plot is knobby with hum- accomplish all this. mocks. Stand directly over each little There remains the question of a bed, mound; swing the back of your ax vigor- and you'd better attend to it now, while ously against it, adz-wise, between your your mind is still occupied with the legs. Nine times out of ten it will crumble, shelter problem. Fell a good thrifty and the tenth time means merely a root young balsam and set to work pulling off to cut or a stone to pry out. At length the fans. Those you cannot strip off you are possessed of a plot of clean, fresh easily with your hands are too tough for earth, level and soft, free from projections. your purpose. Lay them carelessly crissBut do not unpack your tent.

cross against the blade of your axe and up Lay a young birch or maple an inch or the handle. They will not drop off, and so in diameter across a log. Two clips when you shoulder that ax you will rewill produce you a tent-peg. If you are semble a walking haystack, and will probinexperienced, and cherish memories of ably experience a genuine emotion of striped lawn markees, you will cut them surprise at the amount of balsam that about six inches long. If you are wise can be thus transported. In the tent lay and old and gray in woods experience, smoothly one layer of fans, curve side up, you will multiply that length by four. butts toward the foot. Now thatch the Then your loops will not slip off, and you rest on top of this, thrusting the butt ends will have a real grip on mother earth, underneath the layer already placed in than which nothing can be more desirable such a manner as to leave the fan ends in the event of a heavy rain and wind curving up and down towards the foot of squall about midnight. If your ax is as your bed. Your second emotion of sursharp as it ought to be, you can point prise will assail you as you realize how them more neatly by holding them sus- much spring inheres in but two or three pended in front of you while you snip at layers thus arranged. When you have their ends with the ax, rather than by spread your rubber blanket, you will be resting them against a solid base. Pile possessed of a bed as soft and a great them together at the edge of the clearing deal more aromatic and luxurious than Cut a crotched sapling eight or ten feet any you would be able to buy in town, long. Now unpack your tent.

Your next care is to clear a living space

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in front of the tent. This will take you logs—unless they happen to be of granite. about twenty seconds, for you need not Granite explodes most disconcertingly. be particular as to stumps, hummocks, or Poles sharpened, driven upright in the small brush. All you want is room for ground, and then pressed down to slant cooking, and suitable space for spreading over the fireplace, will hold your kettles a out your provisions. But do not unpack suitable height above the blaze. anything yet.

Fuel should be your next thought. A Your fireplace you will build of two roll of birch bark first of all. Then some green logs laid side by side. The fire is of the small, dry, resinous branches that to be made between them. They should stick out from the trunks of medium-sized converge slightly, in order that the uten- pines, living or dead. Finally, the wood sils to be rested across them may be of itself. If you are merely cooking supper, various sizes. If your vicinity yields flat and have no thought for a warmth-fire stones, they build up even better than the or a friendship-fire, I should advise you

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