The Leg Shaving Incident

In my younger days (way younger), I went backpacking with my Dad. We went to lakes in the mountains that were harder to get to; lakes where you wouldn’t find the average camping folks. We had to hike several miles to get to these lakes. It was glorious to be in the mountains, alongside a beautiful lake with trout jumping, birds singing…with no phones, no radios, no cars, no tv…and sometimes no people.

Normally, we wore long pants and long sleeves while hiking even if it was hot because it helped keep the mosquitoes off and kept us from getting sunburned. I didn’t mind wearing shorts around the campsite sometimes but that’s back when I was a teenager and had a decent figure!

Being a teenager (just 15 years old this particular trip) if I was going to wear shorts at any time at all, I was not going to be caught dead with unshaved armpits or legs! Every 2 days, it had to be done, regardless of the weather! So, one afternoon, I gathered up my shaving tools, my towel, soap, and shampoo and headed to a nice secluded place by the lake to take a bath.

There was a bit of a breeze this particular afternoon, and I thought nothing of it. First, I washed my hair. I brought along a large plastic bowl so I could scoop water and not pollute the lake with soap or shampoo when I rinsed. I managed to get my hair washed with no problem. Next, I washed the rest of me and was ready to shave my legs. It was starting to get a bit chilly with that breeze. Still, not thinking about the breeze or the goosebumps forming on my legs, I started to lather up so I could shave.

When I was finished shaving, to my shock and horror, I discovered I had shaved the teeny tiny tips of my goosebumps right off! I didn’t feel any pain at all until I rinsed my legs. I was mortified! My legs were bleeding and I looked like a million mosquitoes trapped me in the tent and had a feast on me! The stinging sensation had me yelling and frantically rinsing, trying to cool off the pain. How could I be so dumb? What did I think was going to happen when I raked that damn razor over those goosebumps?

Obviously, I wasn’t thinking.

That Tangled Line

Back in the day, before boyfriends and children and a hectic life, my summers were filled with the excitement of backpacking with my Dad. Dad would plan the trip and Mom would buy whatever provisions Dad requested. We took freeze-dried foods, and powdered soup mixes. We had mac n cheese, granola bars, pancake mix, dehydrated eggs, powdered milk, dried hash browns, and well, you get the idea. Dad even built his own food dehydrator and dried veggies for stew. I know the stew had beef in it, but I don’t recall if he dehydrated it himself or if it was purchased dried. Of course, we hoped we would catch fish to supplement or replace what we were bringing. You can’t go with no food and just hope to catch fish because sometimes, there are NO fish! Literally. One of my favorite lakes had been completely fished out. One trip we were there, we watched airplanes fly over and drop fish into the lake to restock it. It would be awhile before those fish would be big enough for a meal!

Anyway, we made sure to have enough food and we spent the night before loading up our backpacks. Dad usually carried most of the weight when I was 12, but as I got older I carried 35 to 40 pounds.  I carried my own sleeping bag, clothing, and other personal items, and some of the food items. We packed the trail maps, the compass, flashlights, a tent (sometimes, we just slept under the night sky), and of course, we needed plates, pots, pans, cups, and utensils. Bare minimum, mind you.

We usually chose lakes and streams that were off the beaten path because you know….people. We wanted to be away from people. (Who in their right mind wants some group of idiots camped right next to them?) So, after the drive to where we would leave the car, we were off to the trail that would lead us to several sites. There were streams, and creeks, and other lakes that would be filled with people who either rode in on horseback or made the horses carry in their camping gear. (Pfftt…) We would stop and rest a bit, maybe have something to eat and drink, then be on our way. It might take us a couple days to get to our final destination, so we sometimes spent the night along the way.

When we finally got to the lake, it was a relief to be able to drop that backpack and just relax! At this particular lake, and I don’t recall which one, we felt completely alone in the world! It was beautiful and peaceful! Dad strung our backpacks up on a rope and hoisted them up over a tall tree limb so the bears wouldn’t be able to get them during the night. (Bears get hungry, too!) We slept long and hard that first night, nursing our aches and pains prior to ducking into the tent for the night!

The next morning, while dad was making coffee and breakfast, I decided to go for a bit of a walk and I took my fishing pole with me. I found an awesome spot on a huge boulder at the edge of the lake. It overlooked some pretty deep water. I made sure not to look down or get too close to the edge! I cast my line out thinking maybe we could have some fish for breakfast! I could see the fish jumping so I was hoping for a bite! I reeled my line in a few times, but then the last cast out I got lucky! I caught something and that sucker was strong as hell! It had to be big, I thought. I fought that sucker, and I finally pulled him up on that boulder! The problem was that he was flipping and flopping all over the place and there was some brush just to the left on the boulder. That stupid trout got my fishing line all hung up in the brush. I was struggling to get it untangled when I heard Dad calling for me that breakfast was ready. I hollered back as loud as I could, “OK! Caught a fish! Need help!” Well, he didn’t hear me and kept hollering for me. I kept hollering back at him. I’m thinking, I hope he comes looking for me soon! Geez, I could really be in trouble!

He did finally come looking for me, and we got that fish and line untangled. We saved the fish for lunch if I recall. That trout was the biggest trout I had ever caught! It was 16″ from head to tail and was pretty hefty in weight too!

That was a proud moment for me. I EARNED that trout, after the fight it put me through! I think I was about 15 or 16 at the time. I’ll never forget that trip! Those were the good ol’ days and days that will never be forgotten. I’m so thankful to my Dad for sharing his love of backpacking and nature with me.