Christmas Camping, Memories and Moonshiner Ghosts

“Happiness is only real when shared.”

–  Chris McCandless, written in journal

  

I like to think of myself as a somewhat courteous blogger. So, as a courtesy, I’ll tell you now that this post probably won’t interest you in the slightest. Because even though I just got back from an amazing trip with quite a few of my friends, that doesn’t really affect you. No, there’s no deep emotional story about to come out, or a lifetime realization about the secret to writing well. Just a recap of my great weekend. Ergo…this post probably won’t interest you in the slightest.

I’ll post on writing next time, I promise!

 

So, then. My weekend trip.

Every December since sixth grade, I’ve gone with my Boy Scout troop up to a lodge, which has a room full of bunk beds, an eating area, a sitting area with a fireplace, and even an arena for us to play dodgeball.

And I suppose now is when I should explain that this isn’t technically a ‘campout.’ Normally a campout for us is building and sleeping in shelters during freezing-level temperatures. But for Scouts who have exceptional service hours, this is our ‘reward’ campout.

Since I’m a senior in high school, this was my last chance to go. I planned to enjoy it and wasn’t disappointed.

I mostly played Mario Kart and slept during the drive up. Once we arrived at the lodge, we cranked up the iPods until it was time for bed.

Saturday was full of funness. There was great food (cooked by the adults; again, this was a reward trip), lots of music, and movies shown with the help of my projector and another scout’s drop-down screen. Through the course of the day we watched The Rundown, The Dark Knight Rises and the first half of The Avengers.

We also fit in a hike. That was surprisingly relaxing…walking through the clear, open woods in mild cold while all of us whistled “Viva La Vida” and enjoyed the view.

Hike 1

I got to talk to my friends, which I realized I wouldn’t have many more chances to do within the troop.

Then towards the end of the hike, we came across a destroyed cabin, and our Scoutmaster told us the same story he’s told every year:

In the early 1900’s, a man lived in these back woods…a moonshiner. He built a cabin by hand and smuggled a boiler into it, which he used to make hundreds of gallons of moonshine over the next five years…illegally, of course.

Soon, the police heard rumors of what he was doing, and investigated. Upon confirming that the man was indeed breaking the law, they sent several teams to find his cabin and arrest him.

When they arrived at the scene, the moonshiner locked himself in his house and started shooting, intending to go down fighting. The police fired back, and their bullets hit the boiler.

The cabin exploded. The moonshiner was killed, but his body never was found.

The rumor said that he still haunted the forest where he had spent the last years of his life, waiting for the moment to carry out his revenge. And to this day, people who have ventured to the lodge at night claim to have heard him calling out for his killers.

Or, so the story goes, anyway.

I know that doesn’t sound like much, but hearing it while we stood in the cold wind, looking out at the pile of logs that was obviously once a home…it was interesting. The rusted bed frame was still there, along with a part of the stove, an old sink, and even parts of a car on the other side of the stream.

Anyway. After all of this we got back to the lodge, had dinner, exchanged small gifts, and had some amazing hot apple cider. Before I fell asleep that night, I cranked up the Fray’s “Never Say Never” in my earbuds and started to type on my iPod’s notepad.

 

I know this is my last year because today was a great day, and for some reason I’m sad.

This is the last time I’ll sleep in this lodge, under this roof with these incredible people. I’m trying to capture everything, but of course that’s impossible. So what’s the one thing I do to preserve it? I write about it.

But I’ll do that tomorrow. For right now, I need sleep. I’ve had my time for goodbyes here. All it really taught me is that I’ll never have enough.

So for now, as I sit here for the last time in this place: goodbye. Thank you for six incredible years.

10:55 PM.

 

Then I woke up this morning, we all packed up, and we drove home. Luckily I got to make one more memory by watching Super 8 with one of my close friends during the ride.

All I can say is that I’m coming home next year, and I’ll go on this again, if I’m allowed. I don’t care if I’ll be in college with a new set of friends and finals bearing down. There are just some things you never let go of.

This is one of them.

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