From Hoopa

Byron Nelson./Photo courtesy of the Times-Standard

Stories, Legends and Other Things…

By BYRON NELSON Jr.

Up until about eight years ago, I wrote a weekly column for this newspaper. Consisting mainly of historical accounts of the local area, it ran for about three years.  At times it became difficult to produce a story every week. The research alone on some of the stories required working into the early morning hours to meet the newspapers deadline. Finally I had to discontinue the column due to other obligations.

Over the years I have thought about restarting the column, and at times I even mentioned to the newspaper that I wanted to do that. But I would always think about some of those long painful hours and how nerve racking they became.

So if I were to restart the column, the way in which it was produced had to be redesigned. Therefore the following method was worked out; since well over one hundred stories were written over eight years ago, many of them could be rerun in their whole form or rewritten without seeming too repetitious.  And of course there will be new stories and the ones I enjoy writing the most are the ones I only have to recall, like this one with my father.

~ My father had five sisters and no brothers. When he started his own family, his first child was my sister. So when I came along three years later, he was more than ready for a male companion out in the woods. He was so ready that he started taking me along with him when I was barely six years old.

The first adventure he took me on at that age was down into the head waters of Trish Tang Creek on a fishing trip. As it would turn out, we would make that trip down there every June or July for the next eight years straight. We would begin our trip by hiking south out of Box Camp, around the side of a mountain and then drop straight down to the creek below.

The first few years while I was still a little fellow; my father always seemed to know when I needed a rest. So we would always rest on the side of that mountain before we dropped down into the canyon on the other side.

During the first of those trips, he told me a story while resting on the side of that mountain, He told me about a bear with a peg leg that lived on that mountain. He told me to “keep an eye open for that bear, and if you see him coming, all you have to do is step aside and let him pass and because of his short leg, he couldn’t turn around and he would have to go all the way around the mountain and come back the same way he had come in the first place to get another chance at you.” For a few years afterwards, I would be on the lookout for that bear, while we were on the side of that mountain.

After we made our way around that mountain, it was almost a sheer drop of about a thousand feet to the creek below.

During all the times my father and I traveled out in the woods, we never carried water because he always knew where the drinking springs were located. In this case, there was a spring about half way down that canyon wall with the coldest and best tasting water that I have ever drank in my life. It was located right where you really needed a drink of water during the heat of those hot summer days on that trail.

Reaching the creek down at the bottom of the canyon, we would fish for just a few hours and catch as much trout as we could carry out. And later in the day, as we climbed out of that canyon, we would stop once more at that spring with its magic ice cold water. To this day, when I am thirsty and want to enjoy a nice cold glass of water, I will think of that time, close my eyes, and imagine that I am again drinking from that spring.

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