This is a story I regularly tell people when I want to get a little sympathy for having a crazy upbringing. My Dad was long in charge of scouting when I was growing up. For some reason I always made the cut as to which of the kids got to go with my dad when he was taking scouts somewhere, typically camping. I don’t recall Josh ever going, so I was the youngest boy on many of these outings. While a lot of the camps were fun (I still remember Troy and Mike out-paddling all the other troops to win the Broken Paddle Award at one camp), one of the outings was brutal. And, I don’t recall if it was with the scouts or not, but we did later go there with scouts. I think this time may have been a preparatory hike to help my Dad remember the area, but the photos below suggest otherwise.
Anyway, we went hiking in the Uintahs. I couldn’t have been more than 6, 7, or maybe 8 at the time. Mark would have been two years older. The hike in to the campsite was 10 miles. I can manage 10 miles in a day hiking today just fine. But when I was ~6, ugh, it was like the Bataan Death March (to me; obviously the Bataan Death March was much worse in reality). I could also be conflating the two times we did this hike, but I distinctly recall on one of them that it was a very wet spring and the trail, which typically crossed a dry creek bed, instead crossed a field of mud about 2 feet deep. I took two pairs of shoes on that trip; one of them is still buried deep within the mud field in the Uintahs.
Just as we arrived at the campsite, a hail storm blew in. My Dad wanted to get a fire started, so he had us hold a tarp over the fire pit while he tried to start the fire. As the youngest and shortest kid around, I obviously was holding the tarp the lowest. A gust of wind blew through, lifting the center of the tarp up, and all the hail that had collected on the top of the tarp went down the lowest point, which was directly above my head — and down the back of my shirt and coat. I got no sympathy, just yells of “Don’t let go!” and “Hold the tarp higher!”
Eventually the storm blew over and we started to get settled. My remaining pair of shoes was soaking wet, so I put them on the wire rack near the fire to dry and went to bed. Mark and I were sharing a tent (the one in the picture below):
Once we finally made it to bed, I didn’t feel well. About midnight I had to get up to urinate. And about 2:00 am I felt so bad I got up and vomited right outside the tent. Mark heard it, then smelled it, then kicked me out of the tent. I recall pleading with him to let me back in at 2:00 in the morning. He finally relented (parental intervention may have been involved), but he didn’t want to have to smell the vomit I likely had all over me.
I eventually fell back asleep in my vomit covered clothes, and when I woke in the morning, I found that the soles of my shoes had melted onto the wire grill by the fire. I had to pry them off the grill.
The positive twist to this story is that I was really at the bottom of the bottom when it comes to bad luck and things got better after that. Here’s another photo from that trip where I’m feeling a little better (and Mark’s pretending to eat a raw fish):
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