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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ahhh, I love the winter weather

I woke up this morning at around 0 dark thirty looked at the temperature gauge for outside and it was a blistering 25 degreesF. The frozen thick blue ice over my KOI pond edges, grass and stepping stones was evident that the sprinkler system had ran during the night. I glanced over at my heated spa and thought, hummm why not. I hurried out the door, removed the cover and jumped in. Nothing like a morning soak watching the sun tickle the tree tops as nature wakes up. The frozen yard, heated water and solitude remind me of a funny story.

I had been acting director for an outdoor adventure outfitter company operating in the High Sierras. We had been out for several days and we were winding down a trip for over a hundred clients spread out over a huge area. I had two other guides staged at base camp with me just in case hell broke free and we needed emergency support staff. It had been a very long week with some major issues popping up every hour, or at least it seemed that way to me. All in all it was a great trip and all of our clients made it home safe and sound. On the last night I asked the boys if they would like to "roll" out of base camp early and meet some of the teams at the trail head the next morning? You would of thought I was offering free lotto money. At around midnight, when the last of nine teams had bedded down safely for the night, we packed up and headed for lower ground. As we got into our vehicles a few hours later we noticed that we had acquired that smell my wife refers to as "man stench." I knew we were not about to represent this company by going around town smelling that foul. So I proposed a quick trip to the nearby hot springs. Once again that was like free lotto money.

As we get to the hot springs it was very late, or early, depending on how you see it. The place was vacant and we were excited to get freshened up. As we took a quick inventory we soon realized that we had not packed any swim shorts due to the winter weather. So I, being the leader, stripped down to my special suit and jumped in. This presented a dilemma for the other two manly man guides working for me. I simple stated, " why not, no one is around." So they did the same. So there we are, three naked, physically fit, male wilderness guides sitting in the hot spring at 0 dark thirty. We all had our "zones" in the water. The old "do not get to close to me you naked freak kind of thing." Sworn to secrecy, and a man blood oath taken to ensure no one would ever know we had stooped so low as to bath naked with another male. About then a car starts to drive up the road leading to our location. With eyes wide open, and more alert than I had seen them all week, they both simultaneously say, Oh shit! The panic began to set in. I started to laugh so hard. These grown men worried to death about some one seeing them in the buff. I said, well that's why I brought my towel and set it next to me. The look was priceless. In the mean time one of them says " who the hell would come up here this time of night. "Well.....we're here." "Maybe its the cops? " "And what do you think they will do?" Anyway, the conversation went on like this for a few minutes. Then the car turned around and went away. We decided that we were clean enough and scampered back to the trucks and went to Denny's. By the time we reached the trail head to say good job, we had been up for well over 30 hours. But we were clean.

I watched with some amusement as the 30 plus instructors kept asking how we got clean so fast. Evasive did not describe their answers. I simple stated, we all went skinny dipping at the hot springs on our way out. The answer back was " that's cool, you base camp guys get all the luck." I thought this experience was a funny one, may be you just had to be there. Hot water, frozen surroundings, and solitude make for a great start of the day, no matter how much sleep you get.



Soaring Eagle said...

Interesting story and it reminds me of one of my own.

I was deployed to Germany; I was in the Army, for about one and one half months on a REFORGER exercise. I was there as the Officer-in-Chart of the COMSEC Material Direct Support Activity, and during the deployment as one of the S3 Staff Officers in the S3 Operations for the 1st Infantry Division. We deployed all the COMSEC gear for the Division and all the paper products that went with that type of gear. I was in one of the groups landing before the main body and was there about two weeks after all had gone. I literally was the only person left after all the transport trucks loaded with the Battalion’s about 550 personnel left. That open field in the German forest became incredibly lonely place at that moment. But back to the memory …

Our Signal Battalion had deployed about 550 personnel from Fort Riley, Kansas to participate in a REFORGER exercise using combined forces throughout Germany and Europe. During the field deployment we had not had a bath, seen a PX/BX, or any other folks in over three weeks; just deployed in the forests of Germany, rain, mud, dirt, whatever. We had an opportunity at one of our deployment location because the battalion could not jump “redeploy” for at least 24 hours. So, the Battalion S3 who was a Major, and the another S3 Staff Officer who was a Captain, and myself a Chief Warrant Officer decided to take the S3’s jeep and head to a local kaserne that we knew was about a 40 minute drive from our field deployment location. Once there at the kaserne we quickly found the kaserne’s gymnasium and hit the showers. IT WAS GREAT!

The trip to the kaserne in the open jeep was cold, bundled in our field uniforms; our bodies were dirty and the wind cold. On the way back, we could take our heavy clothing off and the weather was warm and great. With all the time that we had before the battalion could jump we could take that drive back as fast or slow as we wanted.

It was such a pleasant drive back.

When we arrived we found the Major’s pup tent, the Captain’s pup tent, and my pup tent all standing where we left them, but no S3 tent, no S3 operations shelter, come-to-recall, there was no BATTALION either, just a Lieutenant Colonel Battalion Commander standing next to his jeep with his driver at the wheel. He didn’t say a word just then, just looking at each one of us. I think I do recall that he was tapping his foot.

We quickly and quietly gathered our personal gear, got into our jeep and found our Battalion about 15 kilometers away.

I guess the real difference in our stories is that when folks ask us how we got so clean, we weren't really feeling very amused ...

storyteller said...

TB - You DO have a way with words and tell entertaining stories ... usually illustrating vivid life lessons that make them all the more memorable. I'm glad you amble out of your bear cave from time to time to share.
Hugs and blessings,

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