Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Simple Morning (today's Sunday Scribblings)

I roll over. Maybe it’s the birds. A whippoorwill has been whistling on and off all night, disturbing my sleep. It’s still a good hour or more before sunrise, but the stars are gone and there’s enough light for me to see by without using a flashlight. I reach over to where my stove is sitting. It’s pumped and primed from the evening before. I open the valve for just a second, releasing a little gasoline around the burner. Striking the sparker, a bright orange flame explodes. I let it burn, heating the gas generator. After 30 seconds or so, as the flame burns down, I turn on the gas and the flame becomes dark blue. The stove roars. Other hikers have joked that it sounds like a shuttle launch, but this morning I’m alone. The stove drowns the chirping of the birds and the ripple of the river. I sit a pot of water on top and unzip my sleeping bag, pulling on shorts and a damp t-shirt. I then quickly stuff the bag into its sack and roll up my pad around the sleeping back then placing both onto the bivy sack, which I roll up together and strap onto the bottom of my pack. Sitting up against the pack, I pull on socks and boots and go over to where my food is hanging from a tree. Undoing the knot in the rope suspending the bag in midair, away from animals, I drop the bag to the ground. By the time I get back to the stove, the water is boiling. I dig into the grub sack and pull out a pouch of oatmeal and a tea bag. I pour the oatmeal mix into a bowl, drop a tea bag into a cup, then pour hot water over the two and stir. There’s still half a pot of water. I place a pouch of rice into the water, letting it continue to boil as sit down, leaning back against my pack. I pull a piece of dried pineapple out of my grub sack and cut it into the oatmeal. As the rice cooks, I eat my oatmeal, stopping occasional for a gulp of tea or to swat at a mosquito. After a few minutes, the rice appears cooked. I turn the stove off and as the flame dies, the sounds of nature return. I finish my oatmeal and tea, wash out my spoon and bowl with the starchy water used to cook the rice. using the tea bag as a scrubber. I return the hot rice pouch to the pan; it’ll be my lunch. As the stove cools, I go off to take care of nature and to brush my teeth. When I return, I pack the stove and grub sack into my pack. Shouldering the pack, I realize it no longer feels heavy. After two months on the trail, it's a part of me. It’s barely six A.M. There’s a slight mist over the river. I’ll make good time before the day gets too hot.

Today’s Sunday Scribbling challenge is to write on the one word prompt, “Simple.” I'm writing about a morning on the trail—using memories of hiking along the Housatonic River on the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. The picture is from the Appalachian Trail in western Pennsylvania.


  1. Ah birds. It's that time of year when the mama birds kick their babies out of the nest.

    I hate that, because I'm always around when they toss the one that isn't going to make it out. We buried one today, much to my pain and chagrin.

  2. I'm not much of a hiker, Sage, but you make it sound nice.

    I LOVE the comment you made about my post (legislature= dinosaurs). I am really sorry I didn't think of that first!!

  3. This brought back memories! I love wasking up to birdsong. Thanks for your comment on my weird things on my Alter Ego blog. My Sunday Scribbling (since you asked!) is on my Crafty Green Poet blog (

  4. Your post brings back memories of waking up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in time to see the sunrise while out camping during the summer. I hated those cold nights, but I sure did love the waking hours . . .

  5. Yep, brings back memories, but no matter how I want to be simple in that romantic way, I like to wake up to birds- but on the other side of the window- I can shuffle out in fuzzy slippers and a robe to give them some bread crumbs. Then right back in to my coffee. How I do sincerely envy your ability to enjoy such pleasures.

  6. Sage: You have a way of capturing these sights and sounds that is great. I enjoyed this post!

  7. Very Tom Sawyer-ish.

    I had two thoughts when reading this:

    1. You sleep out in the middle of nowhere by yourself and you're not scared?

    2. You sleep out in the middle of nowhere nekid?!?

  8. Mistress, you have a tender heart--empathy for the birds

    Kenju, it was an interesting pic you had there in your blog

    Crafty Green Poet, you have so many blogs! I like the word, "Birdsong"

    Literary Cat: I too love the Sierra's--back in the mid-90s, I hiked the John Muir Trail--what sights and wonders

    ren: this time of the year, I often wake up to birds just outside the windows, but occassionally it's nice to share their space

    Michael: thanks!

    Murf: yes and yes

  9. You are so in commune with nature. You have a knack of bringing those great sights, sounds and smell for us too. How is that for alliteration?

    Afterthought: You mispelled my name on my blog...:(

  10. I can't believe you answered that. :-)

  11. Where in PA is the trail? It looks so cool and relaxing I wouldn't mind a walk there.

  12. Gautami, sorry about mispelling your name--I wish I had time to be more "in commune" with nature.

    Murf: why's that

    Mistress, it's a ways from Pgh, over N. or Harrisonburg--between Duncannon and Port Clinton

  13. I've been through the same motions many many times and it is a very comforting routing. I especially like the sounds coming from my whisperlite stove in the mornings.

  14. Ed, my stove then (I used it until a year ago) was an MSR multifuel stove. It was loud--it also put out a punch. When I replaced it (after 20 years of hard use, the metal was soft and the panholder wasn't working), I went with a whisperlite multi-fuel which is much quieter. I like the mult-fuel option so that I can burn gasoline as opposed to coleman fuel--you can always find gasoline

  15. That was so beautifully written :)

    Made me feel on the trail with you

  16. Playing catch up from a few posts back; hard to believe, but apparently there was *another* Larry Brown...

    "Larry Brown has been a force in American literature since taking critics by storm with his debut collection, Facing the Music, in 1988. His subsequent work—five novels, another story collection, and two books of nonfiction—continued to bring extraordinary praise and national attention to the writer New York Newsday called a "master."

    In November 2004, Brown sent the nearly completed manuscript of his sixth novel to his literary agent. A week later, he died of a massive heart attack. He was fifty-three years old."

    The only Larry Brown I know was the Piston's coach a couple years ago, in fact, who didn't he coach!?!

    Still catching up... sage, glad all went well with your colonoscopy.

    Love the pic of you and your doggy on the Thronapple River.

    Now for this post... Appalachian Trail in western Pennsylvania sounds perfect!

  17. Wow - you make me eager to go caming this summer. =o) I can just taste the oatmeal. Of course, I like dried cranberries in mine. Will have to try the pineapple sometime.

    I didn't get out of jury duty! The trial I'm jurying (is that a word?) for starts tomorrow, lol.

  18. Wonderful tale of your time hiking. Like others have mentioned, you have a gift for setting the reader right there with you.

    I must admit I am hardly an outdoors type. But your stories make even a strictly indoorsman think about being one with nature.

  19. I agree with what others have said. You have a way with these kinds of tales, Sage. Everytime you write about camping or fishing, it makes me want to go.

    Very enjoyable.

  20. They don't have Holiday Inns on those trails you hike?? Enjoyed.

  21. I love camping, but the solitary nature of what you're describing is both beautiful and intimidating to me.