Henry Coe State Park
Manzanita Group Camp #9
February 17-18, 2012
The old oaks in this country try desperately to attract your attention.
You can even hear them if you listen, and are quiet.
We are greeted by PJ in his Batman tee and cape with a martial arts
display. He is ready for his first-ever backpacking trip! We park in the
remote lot and drive with Casey and PJ to HQ, and Casey drives back
to park and then joins us.
First we go into the deep woods, with chasms on the right of us. It’s
ideal for pushing rocks into the pit with a light saber, and we pause for
that. Those implements also will clear the path ahead of spider webs
and bad guys, although I don’t know that you’ll find that in Backpacker Lite catalogs. Grandma and Peej chase forth in pursuit of obstructions,
while Casey and I trail along.
Next we break out onto that rolling country we love; brown grasses and
solitary bare trunks in dark wood. There’s an incongruous backhoe arm
reaching up out of a dell like a triceratops, and that’s what we decide it
At Camp #9, there are already many there, all set up. (The occasion is
the Backpacker Lite convergence, but for us it’s time with PJ.) Casey
knows most of the campers. They’re really pleasant folk, which you’d
expect of the sort who will travel many miles on foot and leave no
A campfire combusted and wood dropped from the sky upon it, so what
were we to do? We couldn’t put out the natural law. So we warmed to
it, and we had our mac-’n-cheese and hot cocoa near the sign which
warned of no wood gathering nor fires.
There is snoring in the woods; sometimes there is. Jack says so, and he
should know; he’s famous for it. In the morning, one will say, down
there, I thought there was a bear. Later on, another someone came out
of that tent, and PJ said, “See? That’s no bear.”
We ask PJ the first night, “How do you like camping so far?” “Very
fine,” he said. It was his first camping trip, and he was the youngest
camper. He’s a big guy now, with no sadness about wanting to be
somewhere else. While at Group Camp #9, he was enthralled and eager. A real trouper; he was eager to set up and to help wherever there was
activity. When Baba said he was gonna cook chocolate, PJ instantly
asked, “Can I help?”
He missed Mama and MeiMei, though, he said. We said, it is good to
long for where you aren’t, and then to yearn for home when you’re
there. It keeps you moving. We said this in other terms, though. PJ
speaks a various language.
We played Leggo Champion on an air mattress, and checkers in a tent.
We brought s’more fixings, and PJ helped pass them around. He
couldn’t get enough of toasting marshmallows or adding twigs to the
fire. We also were very appreciative of the traditional campfire songs
which nobody sang.
It was cold in the night for us, but PJ didn’t feel it. He slept well and
woke up rar’in for the day’s activities to begin - once we had our hot
chocolate. We only heard him chatting with Baba before first light
when it was time to rise. There was also hot cereal in the morning and
coffee from sticks. It was delightful with the best little/big guy ever!
Striding through the camp in his blue puff-jacket, he went and he
looked and he chatted and he laughed. PJ is very specific about the
general order of the world. It will be he and Baba in their tent, and
Grandma and Grandpa in theirs. “We’re organized,” he muttered as we
were settling in.
We broke camp and moseyed back across the field. When PJ is tired,
he just squats down and waits. Grandma distracts him with missions up
the path. You can rise up over hills quite easily with a magical Invisible
Thread; did you know? It’s an implement which should be standard
equipment at Backpacking Lite because it weighs practically nothing and
is easily transported.
We were among the first to break camp in the morning. The trek back
was, as usual, much shorter than the one coming out, although it was
the same. This is a matter of physics, I think., or psychics.
Backpacking teaches us, or is supposed to teach us, or at least I
believe it is, to distill what is essential into our packs and leave the rest. There’s no room for what should not be packed anywhere, nor left
at home neither. There is the magical waving of PJ’s and Gramma’s light
sabers, which moments before resembled trekking poles. There is
casual talk on the trail, more critical and profound than anything you
can hear in any soirée. And every now and again, there is my Grandson
leaning over against me by the tents, and the moment freezes forever.
Thanks for a wonderful trip!