Camping on Lake Ouachita

It’s summertime, and it’s far too hot to backpack. Why not round up some friends and spend a weekend on an island? Bryan packed his TLR and the good pinhole camera into a Pelican box for the trip.

Kathy and Jarion said they could join us with Ivy. Because they didn’t mind loaning their spare boats, Mitch, Monkey, and Nick were able to join us too.

All seven boats pulled up onshore looked neat, because they were all so different. Kathy and Jarion brought their new sit-on-top kayaks. I had the Native, and Bryan paddled his XP10. Rachel was in Cowper’s Dagger, Nick had Mandy’s XP9, and Mitch paddled one of the Stevens’ old blue Perception kayaks. We had fun swapping around so that everyone could try out different sizes and styles of boat. Several islands nearby provided destinations for little side trips, and Bryan helped the kids work on rolling (though I’m not sure anybody actually learned to do it.) Kathy and Jarion practiced getting on and off their boats in deep water, and Jarion took a few fishing side-trips.

We’d wanted to listen to Prairie Home Companion this weekend, so Mitch brought a radio, but for some reason we got a rerun instead of the promised show. He made it up to us by playing the ukulele and singing. His version of “Amazing Grace” (sung to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme song) seemed particularly appropriate to the occasion.

A Hayduke near water is a happy Hayduke. He swam most of the way to our island and was eager to play in the water anytime one of us went swimming. Once on land, though, he hates being wet – which means that he immediately rolls in whatever dirt and grass is available, so as to dry himself off. The result of this is that he’s always either wet, or filthy, or (usually) both. More than once during the night, I woke up to a rain of damp leaves and dirt – when he woke up hot, he’d trot down to the lake for a quick swim, and then come all the way back up to my hammock to shake off the dirt and water.

Hayduke had a fantastic weekend. He and Ivy had free range on the island, since we didn’t figure there was anything living there that could cause them real trouble. Hayduke showed up at camp with all kinds of gross dead-animal parts, which I “traded” him for treats and put in a tree so that he wouldn’t find them again. By the time we left, we referred to this as his “Treasure Tree.”

We stayed two nights, but I’d have spent another week on our private island. I’d have stayed a month. I’d have read my books and listened to Mitch’s bad radio and explored the other islands and been a happy girl, though I suppose at some point I would have wanted to paddle across the lake to the restaurant. When I’d eaten up all my moon pies and drank all my beer, I’d have needed more food.