Dooly is having a night out with the boys. He sometimes hangs with the infamous McCroskey pack, eight mutts belonging to my nearest neighbors down on the main road. Before dark they run from one side of the road to the other sniffing things and working themselves into frenzy, after dark I have no idea what goes on. Perhaps they play poker. Whatever, Dooly is his own man. I got a new book from town, 1491, by Charles Mann. It’s about Indian life in the Americas before Columbus set his salty little toes on land in 1492. Anticipating a good long read I decided to take a little vacation from the cabin and campout on another part of my property. I have a Clark Jungle Hammock, which, in simple terms, is a tent that hangs like a hammock. It’s been raining for a couple of days but the sky to the west had a bright glow that usually signals the end to rain. One of my favorite places is the waterfall down near the old mill site. I figured with the rain it should be running pretty good. I set up right next to the creek and the falls in a little niche with a rock overhang where I planned to start a fire later on. I’m not sure there is anything better than laying in a warm hammock on a chilly rainy evening with a great book beside a waterfall in total solitude. Just before dark, totally engrossed in the book, two giant terradactyls (actually sand hill cranes) came flapping around the bend the creek about four feet off the ground and scared the pa-jesus out of me. These things were huge, fast and totally unexpected. An omen, perhaps? I got out of the hammock and noticed the creek was getting a little higher and running a little faster. I spotted a rock on the other side of the creek as a reference. If the water rose above the rock I would pack up and move to higher ground. Time to start the fire, calm down and get back to the book. Two more chapters in and “Crack! Crash!-KaThump!, Splash!” My first thought was a clumsy deer had fallen down the bank into the creek but there are no clumsy deer. Bigfoot? Aside from the fire glow the only light I had was a head-lite which is a small flashlight you wear around your head. Great for reading, but spotting Bigfoot on a moonless night, not so much. “Crack! Crash! Ka-thump!” This time it was up on the hill…something was falling through the trees. I was under aerial attack! Large dead limbs on trees hundreds of years old were becoming waterlogged from the steady rain and the weight was bringing them crashing to the ground. I moved to the overhang. The book didn’t seem that interesting anymore. I shined my light across the creek to check on the reference rock. It was totally underwater. In less than an hour the creek had risen over three feet. Time to move up the hill. Twenty minutes later the creek was a raging, angry thing, overflowing five-foot banks and carrying winter debris to the river downstream. It was roaring like a train through the valley. If the flood had come later that night after I had fallen asleep I would have been washed away. I found a dry spot among the rocks on the hill and crawled into my hammock, which I just laid out on the ground. I was safe from the tree bombs and the enraged creek. I don’t remember sleeping but I must have. It was dawn. The rain had stopped. I packed up and maneuvered down the hill. The creek was still high but had calmed dramatically. I crossed and headed to the cabin for dry clothes. Two days later I hiked back to the waterfall to look for my antique Zippo, which must have fallen out of my pocket during the excitement. The rock overhang where I had started my fire had collapsed into a pile of large flat rocks. During the winter month water freezes in the cracks and the expansion separates the layers of the rock. Whew! Lesson learned: When it’s time for Mother to clean, stay out of the way.
On the Story Trail
4 days ago