The crew and I backtrack from Crazy Jug Point and settle into a new camp.
We’re among pines and aspen trees in the Kaibab National Forest.
Our site is beside a lane that’s far enough off Forest Road 22 that we’re not visible to anyone driving by, and rarely does anyone drive by!
No people are near here and that suits me fine. Although there’s no internet service, I consider this is a superb camp.
It’s dusk and the three of us are sitting outside the Best Little Trailer.
The tall pines cast wide, dark shadows across the pine needle carpet, extending all the way to the grassy lawn next to our campsite. I’m in my camp chair. Bridget is sitting on a soft mat I’ve placed for her at my feet. Spike is lying in a crouch, four paws flat on the ground, his nose twitching, ready for anything that might come along.
He springs to his feet and sprints across the pine needles.
Apparently he sees something over by the big log and pile of dead limbs. Probably a squirrel. Spike is relying on his nose now, as the animal is out of sight. He hones in on a large clump of evergreen bushes. A strange clucking sound emanates from the bushes, into which Spike is poking his nose.
Uh oh. Not good. Whatever it is – a wild turkey? – it’s hiding in there. It might be protecting babies. I’d better go get him.
“Spike! C’mon now. Leave that alone.” I pick him up and bring him back to the BLT.
The following morning . . .
I’m up at 5:45 eager for our first full day at our quiet camp. The crew is still under covers. I prepare a pot of coffee. Then I crawl back into bed to snuggle their warm bodies until the aroma of perked coffee fills our little home. The clicking of my spoon in the cup brings two sleepy faces out from under the quilt. Boy, they slept like rocks last night. Those long walks and a new camp must have worn them out.
The crew follows me out to my camp chair.
While the first rays of sunshine appear between the pine tops across the lawn, I drink the coffee and feel the sun’s warmth against the chill of the morning.
“Well. You two look awake now. You want some breakfast?” I get up and spread some kibble on the vinyl floor of our kitchen. I pour myself some more coffee while they munch at my feet.
Soon I have the crew in their suits and the walking stick in my hand.
We go deep into the forest.
I like to walk where the only footprints are from wildlife . . . and cows.
Hoof prints remind me of the herd of cattle, all young bulls, some merely calves, that plodded past our camp last night. A big black one with a white face, the only one with horns, gave me the evil eye while his herd grazed on the grassy lawn.
On the way back to camp, Bridget ensures I get a good work-out. She always picks up the pace when we’re homeward bound, and this morning it’s mostly uphill.
The last hundred feet or so, I let the crew race free back to our camp.
We all catch our breath over on the lawn. I take some photos.
Suddenly Spike’s legs stiffen, his nose points at the BLT, and his eyes become intense. Oh dear, something serious is about to happen. The muscles in his haunches tense and a wide strip of fur on his back stands straight up.
The incident transpires in only a few seconds.
Spike barks and begins to trot. I follow his direction and see something moving a few feet from the BLT. Spike is a good thirty feet ahead of me and it’s another fifty feet or so from Spike to this animal. Spike breaks into a run. I automatically run after him. Oh, dear God! It’s a porcupine!
Spike’s in rapid pursuit.
The porcupine is running away. I’m surprised by the size of the thing and the speed at which it can move its cumbersome body on such short legs. I yell frantically, “Spike, stop! No! Spike!” as I try to catch up with him. He’s ignoring me and gaining on the moving quill-shooting machine, which is now only about six feet ahead of him. I see the quills go up and anticipate Spike yelping with pain. My yell turns to a scream that reverberates across the forest. “SP-I-I-I-K-E!”
His intense, terrier focus breaks, and he hesitates.
That gives me just enough time to catch up and stomp my foot on his leash. The porcupine, now only about six feet away, scrambles awkwardly away from us and up a pine tree. I scoop Spike up in my arms and run back to BLT where Bridget awaits us.
I plop into my camp chair, Spike’s leash held tightly in hand. “Gee, Spike, you almost got it.” I’m stunned by the closeness of the call. “Thank you, Jesus!” The words come out like a curse, but I’m truly grateful my sweet boy doesn’t have a face full of quills.
A strange clucking sound comes from Porky’s pine tree.
I recognize it immediately. That’s the sound I heard yesterday! That must be what a porcupine sounds like.
Another porcupine responds from the area of the evergreen bushes that Spike stuck his nose into yesterday.
Oh good God in heaven. He’s already had two strikes. This is not good.
As the porcupines continue clucking back and forth, the situation becomes very clear.
I’ve made our camp in Porcupine Village.
Ever since we arrived yesterday morning, the crew has been roaming around our campsite, unrestrained, while two porcupines have been hunkering around our home!
This changes everything.
We can’t stay here. Spike knows where they are and he’s not going to forget about them.
Son of a gun. I’ve been on the look-out for squirrels, chipmunks, birds, turkeys, rabbits, opossums, skunks, snakes, coyotes, cattle and even mountain lions. I forgot about porcupines!
Now I know two reasons to move camp.
People and porcupines.
P.S. I forgot to tell you about the obstacle we encountered on the way to our new camp. . . a tree across the road!
It took some tight maneuvering between trees and soft spots, but we finally got turned around. Fortunately, we were on the wrong road anyway, so there was a clear road away from Crazy Jug Point.
Gosh, am I having fun or what!