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By Average Joe
Back in March, my brother sent me an email that read,

"Someone from our fishing club is hosting a trip to Pickle Creek. What do you think?"

I clicked on the link, and it took me to the club's website, where I read the following:

Pickle Creek Fishout

Fish Master: Mr. Magoo

What: Kayak across Mud Bank Lake to Pickle Creek in the Sierra Nevada. 5 anglers maximum. Will require paddling or peddling 8 miles each way, followed by an uphill hike with gear half a mile to the campsite.

When: Thursday, June 25- Sunday June 28.

Type of Fishing: Classic Sierra trout stream fishing at its finest. Deep pools, riffles, and pocket water. Wet and dry fly fishing are both productive. A dry fly with a bead head dropper is the most effective set up. Or fish Mud Bank Lake using an intermediate line for cruising Rainbow and Brook Trout.

Equipment: I can accommodate 4 other people with my 2 tandem kayaks and 1 single kayak. For fishing I use a 9’ 4 weight rod with a floating line on Pickle Creek and a 5 weight or 6 weight rod for fishing Mud Bank Lake. You will also need a light weight tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. I will provide the cooking equipment and plan to do most of the cooking.

Itinerary: Leave the Bay Area the morning of June 25. Reach Mud Bank Lake by mid-afternoon. The drive takes approximately 4 hours. Pack boats and kayak 8 miles across lake. Arrive at the mouth of Pickle Creek. Unload kayaks into backpacks and walk half a mile to the campsite. Set up camp and possibly fish in the late afternoon.

Friday and Saturday fish Pickle Creek and Mud Bank Lake. Optional hike to No One Ever Goes There Lake.

On Sunday, break camp, hike back to boats, load boats, and kayak back to vehicles, usually into a strong head wind.

Cost: $40 to have first class camping cuisine.

This is my favorite fishing spot that I want to share. I wouldn’t go there and paddle 16+ miles round trip 2 to 4 times a season if it wasn’t special.

It sounded interesting, but given the drought that continues to plague this state, I had some concerns about how much water (if any) might be present come June.

I sent Magoo an email expressing my thoughts, and he assured me that there would still be plenty of water in the creek. He also let me know that he'd be visiting the creek in early June, and said that if the water had dropped to the point where it was too warm to fish that he would cancel the trip.

I talked it over with my brother, and even though neither of us had ever met Magoo, we both signed up.

By the end of March, two other club members (who we'd never met) had also signed up: B.K. and Andre.

We all received another email from Magoo at the end of April.

He said that the hike to the campsite was actually closer to two miles, uphill, at an elevation of approximately seven thousand feet. He explained that two of his three kayaks were Hobies that were equipped with sails and outriggers, and that they would require pedaling and sailing skills as opposed to paddling. The third kayak was a traditional tandem. He said that someone would need to transport one of the kayaks to the lake, since his vehicle could only carry two. He asked if anyone had any physical handicaps or limitations, and also if anyone had any kayaking or sailing experience.

Andre was the first to respond, and in his email he boasted of his extensive kayaking and sailing experience. As for physical limitations, he admitted to being “a bit overweight” but claimed that he was now exercising on a regular basis and hoped to be down to three hundred pounds or so by the time of the trip.

The second to respond was B.K.

B.K. claimed that other than some vision problems and a bad right leg that he considered himself to be in pretty good shape for a man in his early seventies.

My brother also responded to Magoo's email, stating that he had a pickup with lumber racks that could carry one or more kayaks, and so Magoo nominated him to be the second driver.

As the weeks wore on, Magoo began to bombard us with emails regarding our upcoming trip.

Some contained photos of his previous trips to Pickle Creek. Others contained his personalized gear lists, which included helpful hints such as "Remember to bring gloves and Witch Hazel for hands! (Forgot last time!)," along with "Remember to transfer wine to plastic containers! Last trip wine bottles broke inside sleeping bag!"

Other emails shared some of his fishing tips, such as "Water is gin clear. Must use stealth. Drag free drifts are critical!!!"

And then there was an email that lectured us on the importance of safety.

”When camping in a wilderness area, getting injured is my biggest fear. I’m 60, and my balance isn’t what it used to be, so I always use trekking poles and suggest you do the same. Your safety is my first priority!!!”

Two weeks before the trip, Magoo’s emails became a bit more urgent.

Magoo: "Does anyone have an extra backpacking stove?"

Me: "I've got one that I can bring."

Magoo: "Great. What about pots?"

Me: "I've a couple of pots I can bring as well."

Magoo: "Great. What about a water filter?"

Me: "I've got a Steripen."

Magoo: "I don't know what that is, but great. By the way, I only have 3 PFD's"

Me: "I've got one, as does my brother, so that should be enough."

Magoo: "Great. Do you happen to have a grill?"

Me: "I've got a grill I can bring."

Magoo: "Great."

On the evening I received this last email, I freshened my drink and thought, This guy seems to be in way over his head, so I'm just going to pack as though I'm going on a solo trip. If I end up bringing stuff I don't need, I can always carry it back.

Five days before we were scheduled to leave, we all received the following email from Magoo.

This might not be news to you but Barbie joined our club and saw the notice about the Pickle Creek trip and sent me an email asking if she could come. I agreed, explaining that she'd need to paddle another single kayak I have. She said yes so I'm glad that she can join our trip. She has worked in a kayak store so they are not new to her. She is a little rusty fly fishing, but I know we can all help her get back up to speed. I'm sure she'll provide for some stimulating fire side conversation w/ her oceanography study. An area of interest to me and in the news w/ global warming.
So we are 6. Joe will ride with his brother carrying 2 kayaks and I will take the other 3 in my 4 Runner. I have a cargo carrier that goes in the trailer hitch that will carry plenty.

Welcome Barbie,

Then two days before departure, we received this.

"Hi Campers,

Has anyone heard from Andre? I tried calling him and just emailed him. It will make a difference if he isn’t coming. I just realized that I haven’t heard from him since April.

We'll be meeting at Joe's brother's house at 9:30 AM on Thursday. We won't be stopping for lunch, so please purchase something to eat on the way beforehand.

Please bring pieces of nylon cord to tie stuff down on the kayak and your packs. You don’t know it yet, but you’ll probably be carrying a chair or table on your pack. Your rod cases can be lashed to your back too. You want your hands free.

If you have a hydration pack, can you freeze the bladder tonight? That’s way I can use it to keep some food cold. I’ll have some extra water to drink on the boats.

Also, if anyone has an Ace Bandage, please bring it."

On departure day I was up at 5:30 AM. I’d loaded my backpack the night before, so I spent the morning working in my yard.

At 9:00 AM my brother came by and picked me up and said, "Magoo called me and said he's running late."

My brother had already picked up some sandwiches for us, and strapped to his truck's lumber racks were a single kayak and four outriggers, which he and Magoo had loaded the night before.

When we got to his house, I grabbed a beer out of his fridge and sat down in his driveway.

Barbie and B.K. pulled up at 9:30 AM.

Andre was a no show.

One hour, ten minutes, and three beers later, Magoo finally showed up.

Barbie and B.K. had already placed their packs into the back of my brother's truck, so they climbed into Magoo's SUV thinking that he was ready to hit the road, but that was not the case.

Instead, Magoo got out of his vehicle and spent another fifteen minutes or so messing around with the gear, transferring shit from his SUV to my brother's truck and vice versa.

I turned to my brother and said, “What the fuck is he doing?”

My brother just shook his head and said, “No idea man. No idea.”

Magoo then walked over to us and said, "I didn't have a chance to pick up lunch, so can you follow me over to the taqueria? I need to grab a burrito."

There went another twenty minutes, and so it wasn’t until the crack of 11:15 AM that we finally got under way.
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Then at noon my brother received a call from Magoo.

He put it on the speaker phone in his truck, and I heard Magoo say "I like to stop for gas in the town up ahead. Meet me at the ARCO station."

I looked at my brother and said, "How are you doing for gas?"

"I filled up this morning, so I've still got plenty. Kind of odd that he wants to stop so soon."

We exited the highway and followed him down a frontage road to the station.

At least twenty cars were lined up out into the street, waiting to get to the pumps, and Magoo pulled right in behind them.

Across the street I noticed a station with no lines selling gas for five cents a gallon more than the ARCO, but Magoo and all the others idling in the street obviously felt that their time was less valuable than saving a buck or two on a tank of gas.

We lost another twenty minutes waiting for him to refuel.

An hour later, Magoo pulled over and had B.K get behind the wheel. I later asked B.K. about it, and he said, “Magoo told me he needed to meditate for awhile and and asked me to drive.”

That was the last stop we made, and approximately two hours later, we finally reached the lake.
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The Hobie kayaks had sails and outriggers and pedal drives that all needed to be installed and/or assembled, and no one other than Magoo had any experience setting them up. We all offered to help, but Magoo insisted on doing everything himself.
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Even though he claimed that he’d owned and operated these kayaks for years, the way he stumbled around scratching his head gave the impression that he’d very little experience with these things, and we spent well over an hour standing on the beach while he ever so slowly got everything ready.

Once he’d finished with the boats, we quickly loaded them with our gear, thinking that we were finally about to hit the water.
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We were wrong.

Magoo now removed his completely empty backpack from his SUV, along with two shopping bags full of clothes and gear, and then dumped it all on the beach. Then he stared at the mess for a moment or two and began mumbling, "Hmmmm... What to bring. What to bring."

I pulled my brother aside and said, "Are you fucking kidding me? He doesn't even have his backpack ready?"

My brother just shrugged, so I went for a walk while the others stood there and watched Magoo pack.

When we finally finally got on the water, Barbie was in the Hobie solo, my brother and Magoo were in the Hobie tandem, and I was in the front half of the Wilderness Systems Northstar tandem, with B.K. behind me.

B.K had a lot of trouble getting into our kayak, so I held the boat steady and let him get settled in first. Once he gave me the thumbs up, I shoved us off the beach, jumped into my seat, and began paddling, and then watched as we immediately veered to the left, away from the rest of the group.
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"What's going on back there B.K.?"

"Well, my right leg doesn't work so well, and I can't seem to figure out this rudder system."

“Do you want me to take the back?”

“No, I think I can manage it”

We paddled in circles for a bit while he swore at the rudder, but eventually we managed to steer the boat in the general direction we were supposed to be heading.
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B.K. never did figure out how to properly work the rudder, so we ended up pin-balled our way down the lake, turning only when we were close to beaching the boat onto the shore, and it probably added another four miles of paddling to our trip.
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The only time we came close to hitting anything was while navigating through Kyner Forest.
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Eventually, we all made it to the opposite end of the lake.
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We beached our boat next to Magoo and stepped out into ankle deep mud.
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B.K. took two steps up the beach and lost his shoe in the muck but managed to recover it. Then we unloaded the boats and divvied up all of the extra shit Magoo had brought.
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I’d weighed my pack before I left (forty pounds) and wasn’t too keen on carrying anything else.

At the beach I picked up Barbie’s pack and realized she was carrying ten to fifteen pounds more than I was, and my eyes widened as I watched her add another ten pounds of Magoo’s shit to her pack.

My brother took a table and one of the shopping bags, while B.K. took the chairs and Magoo’s tent, so I took all of the odds and ends that were left, including Magoo’s lightweight backpacking shovel, which we never used.
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With my pack now fully loaded, I wrapped my knees in preparation for the hike ahead.
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We were now quickly losing daylight, and by the time we reached the trees, it was dark.

B.K. didn’t have a headlamp, and his flashlight was buried somewhere deep inside his pack, so Barbie would trot out ahead of him and then turn around and light up the path so that he could see where he was going.

I brought up the rear.
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Before long the trail disappeared, and we were completely lost.

It was while B.K. was trying to negotiate a large boulder that I heard a loud crack, and I thought, “That didn’t sound good.”

B.K. then turned around and held up half of his broken cane.

I shoved the pieces into a pouch on the back of his pack and gave him one of my trekking poles, along with some of my water.

Magoo now led us up the side of a mountain, and we were bushwhacking through some really nasty terrain.

A tree branch caught the cord B.K. had used to tie down the tent and chairs, and suddenly he started dropping gear everywhere behind him. I could tell he was beat, so I picked up the chairs and carried them with my free hand, and tucked the tent under my arm.

For at least two hours we continued to wander, seemingly aimlessly, until we eventually heard Magoo yell, “I found it!”

We all staggered into camp and dropped our packs, and while the others started setting up their tents, I went and searched for a decent pair of trees that would support my hammock.

Once the hammock was up, I found the liter of booze I’d packed and sucked down a quarter of it while Magoo made sandwiches.
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I glanced at my watch and took note of the time (12:15 AM), and then took another sip of booze and wondered what in the hell I’d gotten myself into.

(To be continued...)
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By BigTimber
holy fuck….how do people like that make it through life? the sonofabitch will probably outlive us all.
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By Average Joe
The next morning I woke, none the worse for wear, and got a better look at our campground.
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We were at a plateau roughly forty feet above the creek, and down below I could see Barbie waving a fly rod about and B.K. giving her some instruction.

A few moments later a trout ascended from the depths of the pool Barbie was fishing and took her fly.

It was a healthy fish, roughly fourteen inches in size, and after several minutes she dragged it out of the water and onto the rocks.

B.K. then walked over and picked it up, only to drop it onto the cobbles.

He did this several times before stepping on the fish, which enabled him to get a good firm grip on it.

I turned to my brother, who was watching beside me, and said, “Apparently proper fish handling skills weren’t part of today’s lesson plan.”

They ended up dispatching the fish, and Barbie vowed to eat it later in the day.

We turned around and saw Magoo sitting under a tree with his eyes closed, presumably meditating, so my brother and I rigged our rods and made our way upstream.
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We walked for maybe a mile or so before descending down to the creek.
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Every cast enticed either one of these...
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… or one of these.
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None were bigger than a pickle, and it quickly became boring, so I headed back to camp and watched Magoo make something he claimed was oatmeal.
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Magoo told us that he’d originally planned to make pancakes for breakfast, but he’d left the syrup back in his SUV, and so today he planned to take the single Hobie back across the lake, retrieve the syrup, and be back in time to make dinner.

The others tried to discourage him from doing this, but I told him I thought it was a great idea.

Throughout the debate he keep throwing handfuls of this and that into the witches brew bubbling on his stove, and after tasting it a couple of times, he pronounced it done and plopped a ladle full of goop into my coffee mug.

I took one bite, looked at him, and said, “This could really use some syrup.”

It tasted absolutely awful, so I got up up and dumped the rest out behind a tree.

After rinsing out my mug, I walked over to my pack and pulled out something more palatable.
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Magoo claimed that there were some deep pools in the creek between our camp and the lake, so after breakfast Barbie and I followed him for about a mile as he made his way back to the kayaks, then I walked back with her as she fished her way to camp.
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(To be continued…)
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By fatman
you have a knack for keeping interesting company :smile
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By Average Joe
It was a little after 1:00 PM by the time we got back to camp.

Barbie gathered B.K., my brother and me together and said, “Let’s go to No One Every Goes There Lake!”

I looked at my brother, and he said, “Sure. Why not?”

Then we looked at B.K., and he said, “I think I’m just going to fish the creek today,” so the three of us headed out, with Barbie leading the way.
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I learned a very important lesson this day.
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Before agreeing to go anywhere on foot, always ask, “How far is it?”
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Five miles later, we found ourselves here...
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… along with at least a couple dozen other people. We stopped and spoke to a pair of teenagers we met as we were approaching the lake, and they said that two very large youth groups had backpacked in a few days earlier and that they were camped all around the lake.

I’d expected us to have the lake to ourselves, and was pissed to find all of these other people there, but Barbie didn’t care. She just wanted to go swimming.
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We stayed for about an hour and then headed back the way we came, and by the time I reached camp my knees were killing me.

Magoo was still somewhere out on the lake, and my brother and Barbie decided to spend the remaining daylight fishing the creek, so I grabbed my booze and joined B.K. by the fire.

When Magoo returned, he treated us to more of his first class camp cuisine.
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Unfortunately, it didn’t taste nearly as good as it looks in this photo, and I ended up dumping most of it into the fire.

Earlier in the day I’d promised Barbie that I’d help her cook the trout she’d caught that morning, and she now presented it to me and said, “So where do we start?”

The fish wouldn’t fit in any of the pans we had, so I told her to cut it in half and then remove the head and the tail while I grabbed some olive oil, lemon pepper, and dried onions out of my pack. It must have turned out pretty good, because she wolfed it down and then sopped up the drippings with a piece of bread before I had a chance to taste it. Given her only alternative was to eat Magoo's spaghetti, I really couldn't blame her.
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It wasn’t until we’d finished dinner that Magoo pulled some sort of music player from his backpack and told us all that he fancied himself a singer, and after fiddling with the device for fifteen minutes or so, a song by Sting started coming through the speakers.

Then Magoo began to sing.

When he’d finished, B.K., Barbie, and my brother all politely clapped.

Magoo then looked at me and said, “So what did you think?”

“You sing about as well as you cook,” I replied.

He took it as a compliment, and then sang along to another song by Sting.

Followed by another.

And yet another.

It turned out Magoo was a huge fan of Sting and The Police, and that he knew the words to every song they had ever recorded.

Later that night, as I lay in my hammock, I could still hear him crooning away, and right before I fell asleep I thought, “This is what hell must be like.”

(To be continued…)
User avatar
By The Wandering Blues
Heero[CntRmbrPwd] wrote:Holy shit.
Exactly... Pyramid was a whole lot easier.... Pack booze and fishing gear. Drive to the spot, fish, get buzzed. Good times.
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By Average Joe
On Saturday morning, I awoke to the smell of burning pancake batter and the sound of Magoo droning along to “Roxanne.”

I felt like shit: tired, hungry, and thoroughly fed up with Magoo. It took everything I had to get out of my hammock.

I shuffled down to the creek and filled my water bottle, then rejoined the group and watched in silence as Magoo made irritating nasal sounds while simultaneously burning breakfast.

When Magoo asked me where my plate was, I told him that I didn’t think my stomach could handle anymore first class camping cuisine.

He wasn’t offended, and instead simply scraped the blackened mess in the pot he was holding into his own plate.

Magoo then addressed the group and said that once everyone was done with breakfast, he’d take us all two miles upstream to some of his favorite fishing spots.

Then he looked directly at me and said, “How does that sound?”

I looked right back at him and said, “I think I’m going to just hang around camp today, but I hope you all have fun.”

Once everyone was gone, I took my chair, cup, some cigars, and what remained of my booze down to the creek.
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My lighter wasn’t working - for some reason torch lighters don’t function well at elevation - so I went back to camp and dug some matches out of my pack, along with my water filter.

The previous day I’d tried to sterilize some water using my Steripen, but for some reason it wouldn’t work. I’d put new batteries in it and tested it right before I left, but now something was wrong with it and it wouldn’t do anything, and so I put it on the ever-growing list of products I will never buy again.

When I got back down to the creek, I held up my flask and saw that I only had about a quarter of a liter of booze left. I decided to try and stretch it by adding some water, but in the back of my mind I knew that there was no way I’d have enough to see me through the end of the day.

I set up my chair in front of a nice pool, fired up a cigar, and poured a finger or two of hooch into my cup, and that’s when I remembered that one year earlier I’d enjoyed one of the best fishing and backpacking trips of my life. I then raised my cup and toasted those who had made that trip possible: to Fatman, Avalanche, and jhnnyhndr.
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By midday I was ready for a nap, so I retreated to the comfort of my hammock.
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A couple of hours later, B.K., my brother, and Barbie all came strolling back into camp.

They’d all caught some fish - nothing big - and Magoo was still out there beating the water.

B.K. firmly believed that there was another decent fish in what he now called “Barbie’s Pool,” so he carefully eased his way down the bank and tried his luck.
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In the meantime, I decided to get the fire started.
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Eventually B.K. gave up, and after digging out his flask he joined me by the fire and we started talking.

The conversation meandered until it beached itself upon the topic of Magoo’s cooking, at which point B.K. looked me and said, “Did you know that he’s planning to cook chicken tonight?”

“Freeze-dried chicken: more first class camping cuisine,” I replied.

“Oh not freeze-dried chicken,” he shot back. “He’s cooking fresh chicken. Or rather, chicken that was once fresh. It’s been marinating in the creek since we got here, and to tell you the truth, I really don’t want to risk eating it.”

“You’re shitting me,” I replied.

“Go see for yourself.”

And so I did.
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I walked back to my pack and pulled out the last of my bacon jerky, along with two packets of instant soup, and then put a pot of water on my stove and fired it up.

Once the water had boiled, I dumped a packet of soup into B.K.’s mug, and a packet into mine, and filled them both with hot water.

I let mine rest for about fifteen minutes and then picked it up, ready to dig in, at which point my mug slipped from my hand and spilled out onto the dirt.

Pissed, I grabbed my flask and started hitting it heavy, until…
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…. out of booze.

It was dark by the time Magoo returned to camp. He tossed a Ziploc bag full of uncleaned, dried-out trout he’d caught onto one of the stumps, then went down to the creek to retrieve the shrink-wrapped salmonella.

Magoo preferred cooking on a liquid gas stove that he was always fucking with, and on this particular evening, after pumping up the fuel cylinder, striking a match, and touching it to the burner, I watched as the entire contraption burst into flames.

Magoo decided that the best course of action was to try and blow out the flames, and I watched as he repeatedly filled his lungs to capacity and then leaned forward and blew at the inferno with all of his might. Every time he did so, his hair and eyelashes came a bit closer to igniting.

I was about to ask him if he knew any Michael Jackson songs, but then he started to hyperventilate, at which point B.K. stepped in, turned a knob, and brought the flames under control.

B.K. then turned to Magoo and said, “Is there any of that spaghetti still left?”

There was, and B.K. convinced Magoo that he should probably cook that up as well by saying, “No point in carrying back anything we don’t have to.”

Once he’d recovered, Magoo went about preparing dinner: asparagus, grits (which I can’t stand), leftover spaghetti, rotten chicken, and fish.
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I watched as he opened up large bag and pulled out one of what must have been several dozen prescription pill bottles.

He then opened the bottle, sprinkled a bit of whatever was inside it into a pot, then closed the bottle and tossed it back into the bag.

When he saw me looking at him, all he said was, “Garlic powder.”

He only had the two stoves, so he kept rotating all the pots to keep everything hot, and every few minutes he’d go to grab one with his hands, forgetting that it was still hot, and yell “FUCK!”

Magoo gave my brother the chicken and asked him to grill it, then grabbed two pill bottles from his bag and handed them to him.

“One’s a seasoning mix, and the other is barbecue sauce.”
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B.K., my brother, and Barbie all feasted on the spaghetti, grits, and asparagus, while I sat there, cold sober, watching them.

Magoo then dropped a plate into my lap and said, “You really need to eat something.”

On it was some grits, some asparagus, a piece of chicken, and a piece of fish.

Earlier in the evening, my headlamp took a shit on me and joined the Steripen on the list of products I will never buy again, but based on the light coming from the fire I could tell that the outside of the fish was black - completely burnt - and the first mouthful told me that the inside was still raw, so I spit it out. I wasn’t about to eat the chicken or the grits, so I chewed on the asparagus and dumped the rest into the fire.

I then got up, bid everyone good night, and walked back to my hammock to the sound of Magoo singing “Message in a Bottle.”

(To be continued…)
User avatar
By root wad
Little wonder you had already decided to sign up for next years trip. The spots could go quickly after this report. :cool
User avatar
By The Wandering Blues
Okay, stop! Ur killin' me... Bout shit my pants twice laughing so hard. I'm hoping you invited him to the Drake with no mentoring....
By steelhound
I am so glad that this happened to you. Because nobody else could find the words to describe it as you have.
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