"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Friday, November 26, 2010

The "Grave"

       It probably slipped your mind this year, but don't worry about it too much, it almost got past my radar as well.  Just in case you weren't aware I have this little nugget of information to share with you, (and as Yogi Berra once said, "You could look it up".), November 1st through the 7th was National Give Wildlife A Break Week.  Yep, I can't make that stuff up.
       Ironically, this year's NGWB week happened to fall when I was deer hunting in New Mexico, and for step-son Jason Hower, the anti-deer magnet Ed Goosecock, and myself, New Mexico was not very good to us this year, and maybe that's as it should be.
        I did a lot of hiking during my futile search for Bambi's father, and during the process of wearing out a perfectly good pair of boots, giving my GPS more colorful names than Zsa Zsa Gabor, and discovering blisters can indeed grow atop other blisters, I found myself studying my USGS topo map about as often as a goose goes barefoot.  In fact, had my wife, Cathy, been along she would have had yet another of her grand mal fits of fearful excitement and commenced to jumping up and down like an ostrich on hot pavement while proclaiming louder than a Richard Simmons Hawaiian shirt to the entire Gila National Forest's Flora and fauna that I was lost........again.  Fortunately she wasn't, so we'll stick with the term I prefer to use during situations such as these; logistically challenged.
      At any rate, I discovered a curious entry on my topo map marked "grave".  This interested me greatly in spite of my near-death experience at the haunted camp at Lewis Stringer in the Sierras a couple of years ago. 
       I should probably explain that Tom doesn't do well with ghosts, Bigfoot, bears, tree stumps that look like bears, screams in the middle of the night, horror movies, spiders, skunks, and small, furry creatures in my bedroll at 3 a.m., or brussel sprouts.  This would mostly be due to the fact that all of the above scare the crap out of me except for brussel sprouts.  They make me toss my cookies.
       Anyway, for only the second time in a single day, according to my GPS, and the fact I had absolutely no idea which direction camp was, imagine my glee and mirth to discover I was again logistically challenged.  If I were reading my topo map correctly, (only a slightly better than odds chance) I calculated I might be in the same canyon as the "grave", and since I was lost anyway, and I thought I might be lost in the neighborhood of the "grave", I figured I might as well look for it while was here.
       After an exhaustive search of the area and turning up nothing I was ready to toss in the towel and give up, but miraculously, upon stumbling backward over a pile of rocks someone had carelessly left stacked out in the forest, miles from nowhere, BINGO; I had found the "grave".

       The mysterious "grave" had no markings or plaque to identify it as such, nor was there anything to identify the tenant occupying the space beneath the 5'x4'x3' high pile of neatly stacked stones.  And who was the occupant?  Had he been a cowboy killed in an accident when his horse threw him up being startled by a rattlesnake?  Or was it an old rancher who'd simply lived out his life to a ripe old age?  Was he a miner, or possibly an old prospector who'd had a heart attack on his way out of the mountains to file a claim on the mother lode he'd secretly discovered in the area?  Perhaps he was a marshall who'd been ambushed by an outlaw, or a trapper who'd been mauled by a grizzle bear?
       Maybe, just maybe he was an alien being from a distant universe who'd crashed his spaceship in these mountains and walked away only to wander aimlessly in the maze of rock canyons, hopelessly lost until some Indians found him and made him their chief until he had a brain aneurysm from smoking some toxic locoweed.  But wait a minute; that would be silly.  Certainly an alien would know how to use his GPS and wouldn't have gotten lost in the first place; unlike SOMEBODY!
       At any rate, what was interesting about the "grave" was that on top of the pile of rocks someone had placed a large jar; like that of an old pickle jar.  And the jar's top was badly rusting away allowing water to seep into it through the rusted holes in the lid.  Inside, the jar contained ashes; the ashes of someone else!  But who was in the jar?  Could it have been the remains of......oh never mind.  The point is that next year's deer season, upon returning to New Mexico, I shall seek out a local rancher who no doubt can tell me the story behind the "grave".
       Now, if I can just find my way back to camp; Gol da%# GPS!  Now let's see, the sun comes up in the east, or is it the north?  No, it's the east, and then it travels past the Little Dipper....