Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Nessmucking About in the Borderlands.

Go light; the lighter the better, so that you have the simplest material for health, comfort and enjoyment.

One of my woodsman heroes is "Nessmuk" (real name: George Washington Sears). He was an avid outdoorsman and writer back in the 1800's. His books on woodcraft are still considered biblical throughout bushcrafting circles. He was legendary for spending weeks in the woods with nothing more than two knives, a hatchet, a sewing kit, and a 10-pound canoe.

I'm pretty sure he was up in heaven laughing at me Sunday.

Then again, he probably never took a one year old and a three year old into the borderlands.

Warm sun, cool shade, happy laughing girls...and a diaperbag assembled by my wife. In a wagon. Pulled two miles through soft, white sand.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We were in the borderlands of Spring Creek checking out the new nature preserve/canoe launch. As mentioned in earlier posts, the whole length of Spring Creek is being turned into a giant nature preserve.

Riley-Fuzzel canoe/kayak launch.

Yep, soon the wilds will be tamed into a museum of naturalness. Hiking trails, biking trails, canoe/kayak launches, portapotties, parking areas, families having fun, etc...

The bastards.

Okay, sorry. I guess a preserve is way, way better than turning Spring Creek into a concrete-lined drainage ditch with houses and strip malls along it's edge like every other waterway in Houson. But I'll miss it's decadent borderland beauty. Not to mention the great fun of setting off explosives in the quicksand. A hissing fuse followed by great gobs of flying mud, now that's a great way to spend an afternoon!

But I digress.

The young Wethergirls just liked being out there with daddy. When Miniwether saw the new, four-lane bridge over Spring Creek she had to run up underneath it.


She made it all the way to the top but when she came back down she confided in me that, "That was really scary!". The noise of all the cars whizzing by over her head freaked her out a bit. Still, she went all the way up without any coaxing from me. She's awesome.

Meanwhile, Mambowether decided the white sand was a yummy treat. She got two handfuls of the stuff in her mouth before I could stop her. Dang she's fast!

The most interesting find of the day was yet to come. Now, I rarely stick to established trails unless there's an ecologically-sound reason for doing so (delicate tundra, man-eating alligators, etc...). I have a hunter's eye for gametrails and an immunity to pokey things that allows me to follow them.

Even when pulling a wagon loaded with girls, snacks, water, etc...

A promising looking gametrail sprouted off the main path. There was minimal undergrowth in the area so I was able to pull the wagon behhind me as I followed it. It made several twists and turns following the landscape going deeper and deeper into the woods. The trail seemed suprisingly large and clear. Having encountered wild pigs out here I had to ask myself if dragging the girls down this path was necessarily a safe thing to do. They were quite happy with it and I wasn't completely unarmed so we continued down the track, around a bend and...

Ye Flipping Gods!

We weren't following an animal track.


It seems I'm not the only guerilla camper in these parts. Someone had constructed a very nice debris shelter out here!

Apparently the person was also a follower of Nessmuk for stuck in the top end of the ridgepole was a sprig of green wood. I don't know why Nessmuk always topped off his shelters with the greenwood sprig, but he did. He'd put a fresh sprig as needed until he left. My theory was it was a way to let others know that someone was currently using the shelter. Anyway, this sprig on this one looked about a day old.


Inside the shelter was a fire bow drill, some extra cordage, and some palmetto leaves. The fire drill did not look like it had been used yet. I spent some time explaining to Miniwether how debris shelter's were made. She through it was kind of cool but overall she prefered poking a big spider with a stick. That's my girl!

After the spider escaped I decided it was time to head back. Judging from the condition of the shelter I thought it was quite possible the person would return soon, perhaps was even watching us at that moment. I would liked to have met the builder (assuming he/she wasn't some sort of lunatic). I left a note with this blogs URL in the shelter then rounded up the girls for the trek back.

Once back on the main path we passed many people. Joggers, fisherman, and bicyclists passed with smiles and waves.

I guess I'll either have to get used to that...or head deeper into the borderlands.

Take my love, take my home
I don't care, I'll still roam
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the woods from me
Take me out to the green
Take a look, I'll never be seen
Burn the sky and boil the sea
There's always borderlands to walk free
Where I find serenity
You can't take the woods from me...

-My version of the Firefly theme song.

Adventure! Excitement! Nessmuk!


Anonymous said...

I never thought I'd see pictures of my shelter on the internet =)
Contact me at forestmusic@gmail.com if you want

Garden Geezer said...

Hi Merri,
You said wethergirls and I started singing "Its raining men". Pavlovian or what? lol
Garden Geezer