Friday, April 7, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 88th Installment

conversation bandied about while we started a camp fire. 
There is no fish in that dinky puddle anyway,” Don complained.

Who wanted a stupid fish anyhow,” muttered Neil.

I hate fish – well I hate their bones,” I added. So we ate the squished Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches we had carried in and we decided each of would save one small item for later.

In the morning we started up to the head of West Camas after four or five hours of quiet steep and four or five hours fitful tossing and turning. After a long slipping and sliding ascent, we reached the high mountain meadow on the top of the Continental Divide. We were higher than we’d ever been at 8,391 feet elevation. The Divide is located between Idaho and Montana and is essentially the top of the continent where, on the one side, the spring water feeding the Camas Creek runs west down into Idaho, joins up with the Snake River, then the Columbia River, and finally empties into the Pacific Ocean. The spring water, a few hundred feet east of the Divide, runs toward Montana and into the Missouri River, the Mississippi River, and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

We had eaten peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and were ravenous for some real food that would stick to our ribs. Water was no problem because we could lie down and put our faces into the cold mountain creeks we crossed, plus we carried a little Boy Scout canteen. It was the lack of food that was gnawing a hole in our stomachs. We decided we’d have to try to catch fish again or starve. We’d lost our fish hooks and line at the little lake – or what we now called ‘that stupid mud hole,’ and all we had left was the empty reel, and throwing a reel at the water wouldn’t kill a fish. We thought the Idaho side looked more promising than the Montana side. The creek’s springs were in the meadow, and the water meandered here and there, then rushed down the mountain. As we walked along the springs, we devised a plan. We found a narrow spot in the creek and after gathering enough rocks; we built a rock wall across the creek, careful to not leave large holes among the rocks. Then we ran to the far end of the creek and thrashed through the water in order to spook the fish in front of us – we hoped. When we got near the pool formed by the little rock dam we quickly built another rock wall dam a few feet away. Then the water–rodeo–war against the fish started, with four little boys thrashing and grabbing, water flying everywhere. We were soon totally soaked, but each of us had caught or pawed out onto the bank a fish for our dinner.

A couple hours before dark we left all our fish guts

500 more words tomorrow

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