The rattling noise of the chainsaw returned and faded throughout the midday, but now silent, I expected to find the Lumberjack at camp. Only the machine sat on the far side of camp beyond the fire circle, though, its teeth filled with shavings and chips from its recent meal. Wouldn’t he have come to check on the prospects for lunch if he finished?
I wondered where he could be, but since he was neither in sight nor looking for me, I used the opportunity to take care of the least glamorous part of camping. I wondered where to put the fish – inside the truck with the food while I stepped away, but I didn’t want the truck to smell like dead fish, nor did I want to attract bears. As bad as it would be to have bears in their camp, it would be even worse to have all my efforts to catch Mr. Fish and his friends stolen by one hungry mammal.
When I opened the door of the truck, I saw the cooler sitting next to the bag – how perfect. I removed the lid, but found only a carton of eggs, several blue freezer packs and nothing more. Odd. Why didn’t we have eggs for breakfast? Maybe he was saving them for tomorrow. Regardless, I put the plastic bag inside, added the toilet paper to my backpack, and headed to my private boudoir.
As I walked into the woods, I could hear a dull thump, followed a few moments later by another and another. The sound increased only slightly as I made it to my hiding spot in the woods, but I walked past my hole in the ground to be sure no one was just ahead of it. I could still hear the noise again and again, slightly louder, but still not near enough to keep me from the task at hand.
In the bright light of midday, I could see my handiwork from the previous night. The hole might have been deeper than I really needed, and as I leaned against a nearby tree to balance myself into the slightly contorted position to aim effectively, I felt the burn of my leg muscles unaccustomed to this activity. I expected by tomorrow I would really be feeling the effects, but this, too, was part of the camping experience. And in the future, when I would go camping alone, I told myself, I would love and adore the pit toilets without complaint.
I kicked dirt into the hole from the remaining stockpile, applied my hand sanitizer, grabbed the roll of toilet paper off the branch where it conveniently hung – too bad I didn’t see that last night or this morning – and took a handful of steps toward camp, but instead decided to head towards the thumping sound. I climbed uphill, keeping a constant eye on the direction of camp. If I wandered away from the sound, I wanted to at least remember my way back to home base.
Once I arrived at the top of the hill, I could see the peaks of the wilderness in the distance. The view up here looked inspiring and despite the tranquility of the creek from which I successfully pulled five fish all by myself, I would have much preferred a hike along this ridgeline than the self-satisfaction of the catch. Nonetheless, the food needed to be caught and wood needed to be sawed, so work took priority over leisure, even if the scenery made the work less of a chore and more of a pleasure.
And that’s when I realized the thumping sound was probably the Lumberjack wielding an axe. Perhaps the chainsaw ran out of gas, or some other mechanical difficulty, so he resorted to old fashioned workmanship, and all on the energy source of a single banana. He’d probably be far hungrier than me, and my stomach was already growling.
I presumed that aside from the height I had scaled, I was probably headed in the direction of his latrine, just higher up hill. I didn’t expect to find it, but in trying to ascertain my direction, I presumed I was hiking east southeast. Camp was to the south, my latrine down the hill behind me, and the creek south, southwest. From my height, I could see the tree line that hid the water, and even without the creek itself in sight, the line of trees outlined its path from this vantage spot. I continued to follow the sound for about another thousand yards when I finally saw the Lumberjack’s outdoor workshop, and dozens of sliced logs around the area. Despite my pleasant wandering through the woods to find him, I realized the rocky road along which he drove the truck into the camp the previous night would have been faster if I returned to camp and taken its course directly to him. At least returning to camp would be easy.
As I started down the hillside, I could see him lifting the axe over his head and driving it into a section of wood standing on the remaining base of an old tree. The stump, grayed and worn from at least one season of damp winter, provided a flat surface for him to work, and most of the tree pieces around him displayed a similar external color. The inner flesh of the wood piled where he began to stack his finished work appeared brighter, and the fact that he worked in the direct sunlight offered me the opportunity to view his work clearly without obstruction. He must have been incredibly hot, though.
About a third of the way down the hill, I stopped near a large boulder, and watched him work for at least a few swings of the axe. Clearly this is why he sent me fishing. Of the two tasks we each tackled today, this one would have been impossible for me. Clearly he deserved his nickname, which made me hope he had not given me one similarly. It didn’t seem like his style to make up silly names, and for the moment, I was engrossed enough in watching him earn his rather than wasting additional brain power on inventing one of my own.
The advantage from this perch, presented me with the opportunity to watch him slice and split the wood without being noticed, and since he removed his shirt in the heat of the day, I could enjoy watching his muscles tighten and exert with each swing of the axe. His physique was magnificent. His skin, well tanned to match his face, revealed that he obviously worked outside often. The strength he exerted against the log sections, probably acquired after years of steady use, displayed in his muscular excellence. Wow. I could have sat for hours watching his natural form and exquisite design, and my mind threw a barrage of delectable adjectives forward to describe his appearance.