"Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the ranges-. Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!"
The day was overcast & the wind had been blowing from the west for almost two days now. A change was blowing in I knew, but despite this I decided to go on a trip. I was getting cabin fever. I started off on what we call the wilderness road, also known as the "old Indian trail". But as usual my curiosity got the better of me, and I turned off this well worn trail to follow another. This new trail was a narrow game trail which took me to lower ground.
I followed the trail through the forest marveling at new sights of huge fallen trees now covered in lichen. Other trees large and small had fallen across the trail and the wildlife that followed these trails had been diverted around them but always the path led back to the original trail. I always take my time on such trails, stopping frequently to look and listen. Whilst on the move my eyes are constantly searching about, glancing at the ground ahead of my foot falls then back to the forest about me.
The opening in the high ground to my left looked too interesting to ignore. Once when hunting for meat in the Territory I had missed my way in the thick acacia forest and unknowingly passed through a gap in the hills. On my way back with my pack full of meat I suddenly came across this barrier where there should be none. I knew my direction to be true, but was reticent to start climbing this hill that confronted me. So I dropped my pack and climbed the high ridge behind me. When I got to the top of the ridge I could clearly see my way back and was able to retrace my steps that took me through the gap in the hills.
The opening turned out to be a gulley taking me upward. When I got to the top I found myself in open ground, like a grassy avenue with the forest on either side. I was now travelling south, but soon came to another luring sight, another gulley leading downward going west. I decided to see where it led of course. I was not lost, but I was now in an area I did not recognize. This was soon to change however when I finally came out into a an area I knew, it was Hazard Valley.
I decided to go further west which would take me out of this valley and into the next. I had two paths I could take. I could go north and get back onto the Wilderness Trail where it came down from Pilot Rock, or I could go south and then west which would take me up and over the top of the valley ridge. I turned north.
The Wilderness Trail is quite wide and was cleared to get wagons through, though no wagons had been this way for a long time. I followed the trail upward where it passed through the valley ridge. Here the area changed, the forest here was primeval looking with thick bracken and large grass trees. There were fallen trees now green with age and one tall bent tree that was covered in huge growths that I was sure could be cut off to produce wooden bowls.
Now I was descending into Fox Valley. Smaller than the other two valleys to the east with a small forest of She Oak among the other forest trees. There is a pond close to a good camping place which is where I was headed. The sky was now very dark to the south west, and I knew that rain was coming. But the wind that was to bring this rain had not reached me yet, so I had perhaps a little time.
I shed my pack, leather water bottle and shot pouch and set about constructing my shelter. Once canvas was up I started collecting firewood. I made two large piles of wood collected from the forest floor. One branch with many twigs on the end I used as a broom or rake to clear the area of sticks and leaves from around the camp site. Some of this I placed in my shelter for a bed. Small sticks and dried grass I stored at the back of the shelter in case the fire should go out in the night. I dug a small fire pit using the earth I removed to construct a barrier about the fire so rain would not flow into it. I collected rocks and made a reflector at the back and sides of the fire to reflect heat into my shelter. Then I heard it coming through the forest, the wind.
I hurriedly placed my packs and bag plus my gun inside the shelter and set about making fire. I had collected some dry grass and dried bracken along the trail and placed it in my haversack. I placed some larger wood at one end of the small fire pit and stacked the dried bracken and twigs and larger wood up against this like making a miniature lean-to. I quickly struck sparks into my tinderbox and using the dried grass kindling blew it into flame and thrust this beneath the fire lay just as the wind and the first drops of rain reached my shelter.
I could see that I would not be venturing far for the next couple of days. I placed my brass trade kettle beneath one corner of my shelter to catch rainwater, then settled down to write in my diary and watch the rain falling on the pond.