What a marvelous Outdoor Wilderness Ladies OWL LITE-NITE TREK! In November 2019 seven daring ladies headed to the woods for an overnight 18th century style trek. Saturday morning we donned 18th century clothing and gear and headed to the forest. Because the point of this trek was not endurance or distance, our camp site was not terribly far away. We made our way on a relatively easy path in the hills of southern Indiana. Our site was just a mile off the beaten path and offered a rare flat spot large enough for our group of seven. With a crisp bite of Autumn in the air and many clouds in the sky, we quickly went about setting up our shelters.
Your OWL founder, Suzanne demonstrated both how to set up a shelter inside out and in a bad location. Wondering how either are possible? Well, she pegged everything out and set up a baker style shelter inside out. Inside out?? Yep. She had the loop for the center inside not outside. She was a good sport about it, she laughed and quickly and easily reset it and then pulled the center back loop track giving good access to bedding and a decently taunt shelter that would run any rain down and away from the bedding. Suzanne shared, "I had it all set up and ready when the wind kicked up and it hit me: my open face shelter was open to the West. The exact direction bad weather, wind and rain comes from!" By this point everyone else was finished and their little shelters were littered across the site.
As thunder rumbled and wind whipped she decided it was worth totally scrapping the poor set up and moving it.
Stacy Perkins-Moore offered to combine shelters. Within another 15 minutes Suzanne had her shelter combined with Stacy's, facing east in a double wide fashion. Shelly Gier and Ellen Rice also had a shared space, while Beth Sturdevan, Laura Supinger and Peggy Dolinger each had their own small shelters. Once shelters were made we launched into firewood collecting. Suzanne brought a nice sized axe and with concerted effort we cut up a nice sized deadfall pine and gathered a pile of wood roughly the same height as Peggy! All the while the wind blew and we heard a rumble or two more of thunder.
Thankfully, as soon as we had enough wood gathered Stacy hit a lick or two of flint on steel and almost immediately had a fire. The whole time we gathered wood and then leaves for our bedding, the clouds rushed across the sky. Luckily by mid day the sun was shining across the kaleidoscope of fall leaves. A small group of us went for a nice walk to see our surroundings. We ran into three hikers with full modern packs. These young men took in the unusual sight of two colonial ladies, one with her rifle gun, the other her pack and small camp axe and our native guide. They stepped aside and we passed with little interaction. One can only imagine their perception of what we we were about.
We returned to our campsite and found the other ladies had been busy and shortly we set about making dinner. Shelly had venison to share, Laura had rice and squash, Beth an onion bread and cheese. We made the most delicious meal, with the hunger as the sauce! Before we ate we raised a toast to those who couldn’t join us and all who went before us. Later, Shelly’s hot buttered rum made with authentic mulling irons kept us warm and made the night pass with fun and fellowship.
Around 10:00pm we were startled by a huge fireball leaping toward the sky across the woods from our camp. Clearly the young modern hikers had brought some liquid fuel for fire starting but we were amused to see after about third time there was still no steady firelight. As temperatures dropped to the twenties bright stars shown down through the canopy of trees. We hoped the boys had brought good sleeping bags!
When we finally crawled off to our bed nests our breath was visible in the moonlight. As usual on the trail, the night was cold, uncomfortable, and long. Tossing and turning never resolved the burning pain in ones hip shoulder and back. Knowing there isn’t a comfortable position doesn’t mean one won’t try all night to find it.
Stacy didn't sleep much and instead kept the fire going, getting up many times to feed in twigs and branches along with the larger wood we had collected. Others made their way to the surrounding trees to relieve themselves. Though we were all cold we were lucky it was not raining! Cold is cold, but wet and cold would have been treacherous. Finally, though there was no light in the sky, Suzanne decided to join Stacy by the fire. Soon there were an array of little kettles going and shortly after coffee in hand. Just as the sun lit an orange glow to the east a few more of the ladies joined around the fire.
We made bacon with pears which matched perfectly with scrambled eggs. It wasn’t long before we began to pack our things away, drop our shelters and head back to the “real” world. We were closer friends, better prepared to hit a longer more arduous trail, and had our confidence under us to make plans for a long tough trek in the future.