The assignment was:
Places in Your Life
October 31, 1998
Magic Spring Water
Medicine Lodge has been a great place in my life. It is possibly the most uncivilized place I’ve been to, but it definitely has close knit people in it. The neighbors are always stopping in to check up on you, see how you’re doing, or just say “hi”.
When I was young my Dad worked for a cattle association as a range rider. Eric & I would have to go help him. We would stock up on food in Dubois and stay up at one of the two cow camps for weeks at a time. I hated to go up there. I would bawl and bawl until I was almost sick because I was afraid of heights. I would try to bribe my way into staying home with offering to wash the dishes, mop, and even the contents of my “Big Boy” piggy bank. However, It hardly ever worked.
The fun had just begun! I usually got car sick on the way to the ranch from going back and forth on the windy canyon road. When we got to cow camp, we’d head out for the day’s ride. Upon returning, we’d unpack all of our groceries and set in for the night.
The eating situation was VERY interesting. My Dad would fry up some butter with a little bit of food. When we were riding, usually we wouldn’t eat. If we did eat, it was food and water we packed with us. It was usually a “Ring of Red” (baloney) and a loaf of bread. However, every once in awhile we got delicacies. I remember one time when Eric, Dad, and I rode to the Divide Creek Lake. Dad had Spam right out of the can with the jelly still on it and plastic imitation cheese. We got a slice of cheese and a slice of ham…..that we HAD to EAT….in order to get the PRIZE PIECE of Pepto Bismo Pink Peppermint Candy!!! It was awful but I gagged it down…mainly because Dad made me. (Truth be told, I think I fed some of the cheese to the fish ; )
When we got back to cow camp that night, Dad fixed big nice hamburgers. He said we could only take a Hamburger Bun if we would eat it! I took a bun and promised to eat it! Not only did I not eat it all….I only took 1 bite before I decided that I didn’t feel so good.
Dad placed a cooking pot next to my green army mummy sleeping bag. That night I not only puked up all that awful spam and pink peppermint candy, but I missed the pan! Ugg, the inside of the canvas cover on my bed roll was filled! The next morning my Dad made me clean it out and I almost puked again. I ran to the outhouse and there was a snake on the seat!
That brings us to a whole other part of the Lodge. There is tons of amazing wildlife. Almost every day we would see deer, elk, and antelope. There was also porcupines, moose, skunks, beavers, mountain goats, mountain sheep, bears, cats and the occasional raccoon. Not to mention the mice and squirrels that would run around in the cabin ceiling & as you tried to sleep. We had a few scary run ins with wildlife, like our dog getting eaten by a bear. Usually we just got to enjoy their presence. If they watched, I’m sure we were rather amusing too. We had our fair share of cool wrecks, small farm accidents, and rolling down hill sides.
It has wonderful scenery. The water runs crystal clear as it bubbles down the mountain sides. The vast lakes are breathe taking as they reflect the lush mountain side in the rippling waves. The trees are gorgeous green with the scent of pine or sagebrush in the air. The most breath taking is probably the canyon in the fall. It is illuminated in gorgeous reds, yellows, and oranges.
Medicine Lodge being the wonderful place it is, you just have to share it with others. We have had numerous friends come join us for pack trips into the Lodge. Now that I’m older, I gather up friends and we go in by ourselves to go exploring. I have to point out all the spots that awed me as a child. The old mine, homesteads, miner cabin, Indian half moon rocks that were used as fighting barricades, Indian paintings or the St. Bernard on the wall of the canyon.
I’d recite stories of the Magic Spring Water. When I was little, my brother, Dad and I had been riding all day. Eric had got bucked off or something and I didn’t feel good. We were tired and the day wasn’t over. My Dad took us to this stream and told us it was magic spring water that makes you feel all better. We drank it and we cured. We made Dad take us to it all the time so we could drink the Magic Spring Water. When I think back, it was kind of gross. It was water from down in a valley. Even though it was clear and cold, the cows still drank out of it. However, if I was back in that spot today, I’d probably still drink the magic spring water. I hope I’ve let you in on a little piece of my paradise. You can almost taste the cool, cold mountain spring water and your problems magically being cured.
“These mountains are our temples, our sanctuaries, and our resting places.
They are a place of hope, a place of vision, a place of refuge,
a very special and holy place where the Great Spirit speaks with us”
Chief John Snow
Grandma Elaine Hoggan ~ Gathering cows in Medicine Lodge
Well, Grandma and I took off on our own path. It was fabulous. We were floating off the mountain, right down a nice easy draw. Next thing I know we are between a rock and a hard spot..literally! I have lead us into this spot where we can't go back, can't go sideways, and not really sure that we can go forwards! There is a rock that we have to slide thru and jump sideways a few feet to get past.....??? Ya.....hmmm??? Well, I had to get off my horse because there wasn't enough room for my legs to fit through this sideways jump obstacle. My good Lil' Red Roan made it throw. Pretty sure he would go through fire if I asked him too. Grandma really wanted to go back but he made it back down the mountain.
Admittedly, I've gotten myself into much worse jams than my Dad ever did :)
Looking back reading this made me laugh. I realized how much my writing has changed....& stayed absolutely the same. My writing is me! It is very much like having a conversation with me a.... lil' random but all me! Medicine Lodge is definitely not the most uncivilized place I've been now! May, Idaho & South Ranch are definitely front runners ;) It made me appreciate my Dad taking us kids with him...even though I was a huge bawl baby.
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