The outhouse climb


Our final stop came into view. We’d traveled bend to bend. I wondered if the
forest road would ever have an end.

We’d planned this trip for weeks to Yellow Jacket Ranger Station. The cabin was a
welcome sight, way back in God’s creation.

I couldn’t help but notice the old outhouse up the hill. And shouldn’t privies
always be a pleasant walk downhill?

The Northern late fall wind blew through the cabin’s cedar door. I stuffed a
blanket in the cracks from ceiling to the floor.

The cabin was an icebox. It was dark at half past six. The woodstove begged for
fire. I chopped a birch log into sticks.

So I struck a match and lit the kindling, closed the door down tight. The old wood
stove would prove its worth giving heat throughout the night.

My mind turned to the outhouse, uphill fifty yards or so. I had taken care of
business so I didn’t have to go.

For dinner we ate chicken stew, left from the night before. I ate like no
tomorrow, didn’t know what lay in store.

Outside the night was closing in. I heard a coyote yip. I wondered, “Does he feel
the cold? The fall air bites a bit.”

My sleeping bag lay by the stove. I soaked in all the heat. And sleep was just a
blink away, a long day now complete.

But then, I’d say around midnight or somewhere there about, my stomach set to
growling, ‘cuz the stew was needing out.

I hoped this might be just a dream. How could it be for real? But my stomach
soon convinced me from the cramps that I could feel.

I grabbed my boots and flashlight, stepped out in the cold night air. I must have
been a awful sight, just boots and underwear.

The run uphill with cheeks pressed tight met early morning sleet. But nothing
could deter me from the outhouse one-hole seat.

A builder stamped his name inside the rickety old privy. Why did he build it up so
high? I’d like to stamp him silly.

I dashed back to the cabin through the sleet and pouring rain. Then stoked the
fire and downed an Alka Seltzer for the pain.

Good old Mother Nature wasn’t kind to me that night. And with every uphill trek I
cursed the builder’s name outright.


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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.



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