I took some much-needed personal leave recently, probably the only break I’ll get before graduation in March. Devan came up and whisked me away from Duripant for a weekend getaway to Ignebaener V. We took a shuttle down from the Federal Intel station at Ignebaener IV and then trekked out into the middle of nowhere wilderness to “get away from it all”. I haven’t been camping now for years. I forgot how much I missed being out in the green.
Let me reiterate it was the middle of nowhere down there. There were no services for miles and no controlled campgrounds. We were literally camped off some tiny gravel road in the midst of the trees where it happened to be flat and we could get at with the car we rented at the spaceport.
There was just enough twilight left peeking over the mountains when we arrived to set up our tent and get a fire going (the freebie place conveniently came with a stone firepit painstakingly put together by someone else).
Soon after we settled in it got black. Anybody who lives anywhere metropolitan or on a station has no idea what black is like until going to a place like this. The wilds of Intaki are the same but I’d forgotten. Even space isn’t quite this black, what with all the nebulae around. The firelight was great but also served wonderfully to emphasize the fact that right where the firelight ended, the black began. We were visited by a bat or two (thankfully keeping the bugs down) but otherwise I started to become very mindful of just how wild the area really was. It’s been a long time since I’ve been primitive camping like that…and even so, back then my father was always with me. It’s not the same as going to a controlled campground, even though there, yes, you are still in the wild and it’s still very possible that some predator could come visit you. Controlled campgrounds still feel…safe. There are buildings nearby, washrooms (of some description), usually neighbors within twenty feet, and probably a manned station with a ranger-type worker in it. If you have to pee you don’t have to hang your bum out there in the dark where something might come out of the black and bite it off!
So while we were sitting around the fire the first night, it got later, and later, and later…a storm started to move in around the valley. The sky over the valley itself remained perfectly clear, but all around the lip of the mountain range there was thunder and lightning. The black went from being soul-sucking dark to brilliantly white. The wolves howling might have been cool too if not for the reminder that I was sitting in the middle of nowhere with my back to the black and neither of us had thought to bring a beam rifle!
The storm hit in the middle of the night and we got a little wet in the tent but that was really the only damper on the weekend.
The next day we tried to go for a bit of a hike but it didn’t work out too well. The trail we picked wasn’t really a trail, more like a deer path through the trees… A forest ranger happened to show up to point out a few miles up in the direction we were headed the local wolf pack had killed a couple of cows but a bear had taken over the kill site. Cows vs Bear vs Wolves did not sound like a great idea so we abandoned that trail (but not until after finding someone’s home-made blind and shitter hidden away in the forest). We headed off in another direction instead and the walk was much better.
We tried some fishing. Again, been years for me and I’m rusty. At first I only managed to catch a couple of fine (I have to believe) specimens of “rock fish” as well as the not-so-elusive but somewhat rarer “bush fish”. The river was surprisingly low and full of sharp ridges of rocks right around all the likely-looking pools. Devan wasn’t catching anything either in that particular location so we moved on. The meadows along the river were full of beautiful wildflowers though which made for wonderful scenery.
Some distance on we found a nice huge pool beside a big boulder in the middle of the river. The pool must have been twenty feet deep in the middle. Here we finally got some action! Devan pulled out a nice bull trout and I caught (but didn’t land) what looked like a decent cutthroat and then later I landed a pretty good rainbow. After that I managed to hook the “boulder fish” in the middle of the river and lost the lure on it so we called it quits.
Soon after it was time to head back to station and duties… But, I had a good time and was glad to get away with Devan. I’m looking forward to graduation, if only to not be confined to Duripant as much and hopefully be able to spend more time with him. The training-life balance is still very skewed toward “training” and less “life”, and with Devan operating so many jumps away it’s hard on the relationship. Fingers crossed that after graduation I’ll have a more reasonable schedule and some flexibility.