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“Are ya headin’ up”? If you’re anything like me there’s no need to drill through your memory bank trying to figure out what these four words are referring to. To those of us lucky enough to belong to a camp in Pa, we’ve heard this phrase all too often. Grammatically, it’s a relatively simple phrase that to most of the general population means pretty much nothing. To me on the other hand the thoughts and memories it invokes are quite endless.

So what is it exactly that we are heading up to? Is it a building built in the 1800’s handed down through generations, or a camp built last year by a few buddies who have been saving for years? Is it the creek out front where we’ve fished since we were kids or the spring woods out back where we called in our first tom? Maybe it’s the fire pit or the back deck. Then again, as I think about it a little more, maybe it’s actually none of these things. I say that, not because my camp doesn’t have these things. In fact, it has all of them. In truth, I say it because what we’re actually heading up to are the memories that these things spur to mind.

It’s the Friday before deer season and I am the first to arrive at camp. As I open the door and set foot inside I am hit with the smell of the old pine of a camp that has been standing longer than most any tree on the mountain. It still amazes me that even as the thermometer outside reads twenty eight, inside the camp it feels even colder. As I take my first deep breath of that cold pine air it’s not the arrival that makes me smile, but rather knowing that within the next hour I will be joined by my closest friends and family. I slowly make my way to the wood stove and load it with some crumpled up newspaper and kindling. As I light the paper and wood turns to flame, the smoke begins to roll out of the front of the stove filling the room. I sit there staring at the flames as they lick the top of the stove, calling out with their all too familiar crackle. As I close my eyes to take it all in, I smile as I hear the voice of my great grandfather calling out to me “put some more on boy”. I proceed to throw another log on as my uncle asks me if I think we’ll have enough wood to get us through the night. Even though I tell him yes, he still feels the need to help and brings one more load in from the woodpile. We sit there talking about old times as I stack the new load beside the stove. Slowly, the smell of the fire begins to overpower all of my other senses. In an instant I’m snapped back to reality, sitting there once again alone, staring at the open door of the woodstove. I smile to myself one last time as I close the door to the stove, for it never ceases to amaze me how one simple stove can give me a few precious moments with lost loved ones.

As I get older I begin to realize that the camps of Pa are more than just wood and nails. They are doorways into our past and gateways to our future. That’s why every time I’m asked “are ya headin’ up”? I do all I can to make sure that my answer is yes. For now I’m lucky enough to be the one starting that fire every deer season, but I know that some day I will be the one who disappears when the stove door is closed.


Eric
 

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Very good post.You summed it up very well.
I swear I can hear my father in laws voice still there in the crackling of the fire.Good stuff resides in our camps.So are ya headin' up ?
 

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Now I'm sad I have to work tomorrrow!
 

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That's a great read Bearklr!!
 

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That read there Im sure brought a smile to alot of people who read it and started thinking of camp.I know I am .
 

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That took me right to my woodstove at camp and thought about the memories we've had around it. Great read!
 

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Don't close that door just yet.....Thanks for the good read !....Finn
 

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Discussion Starter #12
DAVEOTHG said:
Very good post.You summed it up very well.
I swear I can hear my father in laws voice still there in the crackling of the fire.Good stuff resides in our camps.So are ya headin' up ?
As a matter of fact I am, on the 12th of March. I even put in to work a 12 hour night shift on Wed so I can leave Thursday afternoon. I'll be the first one there so hopefully my uncle Barry and pap will be waiting for me by the woodstove ;). I sure do miss those guys being up there but I know they watch over us down the hollow. It never hurts to have too many angels when you're out on the mountain.
 

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Great story. One of the "easiest" reads on this forum. My "woodburner" or "portal to the past" is one of the tallest, fattest Hemlock trees in Forest County in front of camp. I'd estimate that tree has seen everything that ever happened on the mountain for at least 100 years. I've often sat by the fire and looked up at it's majesty, letting myself drift off to other times......
 

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Nothing smells like the camp. Kinda a mix of old wood, dust, mildew & wood smoke...
 

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The place I go to can only be traveled to in my mind. I long to make that trek through this piece of land to the bottom edge of the mountain and climb to the top of an old ore pile where I sat for many many years awaiting the sky to brighten and the sounds of the first day of rifle season come to life. I can still hear the volley of shots in the fields below me as I grip my rifle in anticipation of the deer that may be heading my way. In my mind I envision my Dad, Uncles and cousins stands sites as I have be taught the lay of this land and know the escape routes through the years of hard hunting and trial and error. We cleaned up trails and picked up trash left behind by the relatives of the land owners and respected that piece of paradise. We had many successful days on this mountain in the Dutch Corner area of Bedford County. These successes ultimately ended our privileges to hunt here. I use to sit in the woods and dream of the day I would take my son here and tell him that now my old spot was his and teach him to learn the mountain as if it was his backyard and to take care of it.
Now...I can only visit this spot with him in our imagination as our boots will never climb this mountain together.
 
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