How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 17
Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 3, 2017
Discuss this article at the Collapse Narratives Table iside the Diner
Karl called Karen and told her about the plans for the weekend, although he didn't mention that Kenny would be bringing along Kirsten for further work on the Lean-To and Funicular Railway and cable system to move materials and game meat up and down the mountain. He wasn't entirely sure Kirsten was even going to come, so he didn't want to set off any kind of firestorm before it actually occured. He could tell Karen and Kenny were attracted to each other, and he definitely did not want to be in the middle of that! Handling his own love life had been tough enough, and basically he had been a miserable failure at it so trying to help anyone else with this existential problem was just a bad idea he had to stay out of.
Hearing the news from Karl that a weekend getaway at the Lean-To was planned, she got a couple of the other waitresses at Quinn's to cover her shifts and packed up a Backpack for a full camping trip. She even threw in an Inflatable Kayak into her trunk in case they hit some paddleable waters. Inflatables were no good for whitewater, but they were fine on flat water lakes and a good workout. Early Friday Morning, Huckleberry jumped in the backseat of the 2004 Ford Escort for the drive to Karl's Doomstead, which took about an hour in good weather on the highway doing around 60mph and then the back roads after that averaging around 30. For the last bit, you couldn't do more than 15 or so unless you wanted to completely ruin the suspension on a Ford Escort 2WD. Karl's big ass Chevy 4WD pickup and suburban could negotiate it around 30, but the Ford would be a pile of junk on the road inside a mile at that speed. Found On Road Dead.
Cruising into Karl's Doomstead location, Kirsten saw Karl walking down the trail from the Earthship past the goats and horses which were out grazing in the fenced in pasture. His security systems had announced her arrival when she turned up the last logging road before getting to his own private road and driveway in. Huckleberry jumped out of the car and went running across the field to say hello to her new friends Mr. Ed and Quick Draw.
"Hey Dad! Great to see you again!" Karen exclaimed planting a big kiss on Karl's weathered cheek. Karl flushed with joy, it was wonderful to have his daughter with him again.
"Kenny's not here yet? When do you expect him? I'm itching to get out on the trail!", Karen inquired not seeing Kenny's Van and Trailer Rig on the property.
"Kenny's already up at the Lean-To. He hiked in there from one of the public parking lots on the other side of the forest."
"Oh yea? How come?" Karen asked.
"He brought a friend with him, and we want to vet her a little more before bringing her here to the Doomstead", Karl replied.
"Kenny's got a girlfriend?". Karen's heart sunk as she was hoping to get a little closer with Kenny over the weekend.
"Well, I'm not sure she's his girlfriend. They knew each other in High School but only recently met each other again. So I think they are just friends."
This brightened Karen's attitude a lot, although she was now kicking herself for not inviting Kenny to sleep with her the prior weekend. The early bird catches the worm!
"Well then, let's get going!" Karen said, pulling her backpack out of the car, as well as two small doggie pack panniers to strap on Huckleberry so she could carry her own food in, as well as a big beef bone to knaw on over the 3 day camping trip.
Karl and Karen got the saddles out of the barn area of the earthship and whistled over Mr.Ed and Quickdraw to get them saddled up and get the two travois attached. Karl had materials he needed to bring along for the building project, plus there was some stuff in Kenny's van they would need to fetch as well. Over the rough terrain off trail in Lolo National Forest, wheeled trailers and carriages just wouldn't work, and travois were the best way for hauling materials around.
It was still fairly early and the ride went pretty quickly, and as they neared the base of the mountain for the final climb up to the Lean-To, Karen could smell bacon frying and coffee perking. She unloaded her own pack and headed up the hill to meet up with Kenny and her new competition, Kirsten. Karl stayed at the bottom of the hill unpacking the travois, since he wanted to take as few trips up as possible to save his arthritic knees. The young folks could do the heavy hauling.
"Hi Kenny! Hi Kirsten!" Karen greeted them. Karl had informed her of Kirsten's name during the ride over to the Lean-To. Karen was surprised at how small Kirsten was, maybe not even 5' tall. She had strawberry blond hair, green eyes and freckles on her nose, and Karen simply towered over her. Compared to her C cup size breasts, Kirsten appeared to be flat as a board. The two young women could not have been more physically different. Small as she was though, Karen couldn't help but notice how muscular she was, some kind of athlete for sure. Given her small size, probably a gymnast Karen concluded.
"Hey Karen! Great to see you! We have breakfast almost ready. Where's Karl?" Kenny asked.
"He's down at the base unloading the travois. We have to go down and drag the stuff up, dad's knees aren't up to the task."
"We can do that after breakfast." Kirsten chirped up. "I'll go down and get him."
"Oh, you don't need to do that, I'll call him on the walkie-talkie." Karen replied, pulling the Motorola FRS Radio from out of her backpack.
Kirsten laughed. "I keep forgetting you guys are all preppers and have all this kind of gear." Kirsten eyed Karen carefully, as well as Kenny's reaction as she came into the campsite. There was clearly an attraction between them, so there was definitely competition there. She was glad she had zipped together their sleeping bags the night before to make the beast with two backs before going to sleep and then again in the morning when they woke up. Was Kenny sleeping with Karen also, she wondered?
Karl came trudging up the mountain after getting the call on the walkie-talkie from Karen, and his mouth watered at the smell of the frying bacon and coffee perking over the open fire. Kenny had brought along his folding Coleman camping grate to do most of the cooking this way, he only brought his Jetboil butane powered lightweight hiking stove in case they did an overnight higher up the mountain looking for Big Horn Sheep trails and droppings, so they would know where to hunt once the hunting season was open.
While the bacon was frying, Kenny pulled out an onion and green pepper from his knapsack and started dicing it up for an omelette, and Karl gave him a block of goat cheese to add to that, as well as a tomato from his raised beds. He handed Karen a couple of potatoes from his Potato Towers that he had previously done a quick precook in the microwave before leaving. He and Kenny had the breakfast preplanned with all the fixings.
"Can you dice these up to make some home fries in the skillet Karen?" he requested.
"Sure dad. I'll add some of Kenny's onion to that too."
"You preppers certainly know how to live well out on the trail." Kirsten commented as she sipped the Morrocan coffee that Kenny had ground up earlier with his hand cranked coffee grinder. "I always think of preppers as Survivalist types who rough it, like Bear Grylls or something."
"Bear Grylls is a fucking media fake." Karl huffed. "For real survivalist type living, you need to go to Cody Lunden. However, for now there is no reason not to live in comfort while we still can." Karl continued. "There will be plenty of time to rough it in the future."
"Too true." Kenny agreed. "Besides, if we overnight further up the mountain tonight or tomorrow night, we'll be eating Freeze Dried Mountain House Beef Stroganoff, which is pretty good for freeze dried food but its still freeze dried. Here at the base camp, we can eat like Kings!"
"Oh I'm definitely up for going up the mountain! I already spotted some good faces to do some free climbing.", Kirsten said excitedly.
"So you're a rock climber, Kirsten? I would have pegged you for a gymnast at your size and build."
"I started as a gymnast, did that into my teens. I still do gymnastics for fun though." Kirsten put down her coffee cup and did a Stalder Press to Handstand on the log she was sitting on, then did a Pike Press down and an immediate Standing Full Twisting Back Tuck off the log and onto the ground, seemingly effortlessly. "See?", she smiled, enjoying doing some showing off in front of Kenny.
Not only Kenny was impressed, Karen and Karl also nearly dropped their coffees watching the ease with which Kirsten puled off these stunts.
"Wow! That's amazing Kirsten!" Karen exclaimed.
"Anyhow, I got into rock climbing later because my gymnastics career kind of stalled out at Level 9, I wasn't getting any new tricks. The gym I went to wasn't really high level, and I didn't want to leave home to go train at an Elite gym. So I switched over to rock climbing. This happens a lot in gymnastics because there aren't many high level gyms around, and also gymnasts often stall out because of fears or they get too tall. I didn't have any problems with fear or getting tall though." Kirsten laughed. "Do you do any sports Karen? You look to be pretty strong."
"Yes, I do White Water and Flat Water Kayaking and Triathalon. I also played Volleyball in college, where being tall helps a lot. I was a Spiker. I'm more of an endurance athlete type though." she replied.
"What about you Kenny? Any sports in your background?", Karen asked.
"Martial Arts, Archery and Fencing." Kenny replied. "I got into them in Junior High when I became a Kollapsnik. I have black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. I'm also an expert marksman in both Pistol and Rifle. I also spend an hour every morning at the Fitness Club pumping iron. Also chop a lot of wood and dig a lot of holes." Kenny said with a laugh.
"Sadly, my sporting days are mostly over," Karl remarked wistfully, "although I'm a pretty good marksman myself and I'm quite proficient with an Atl-Atl and sling as well, and Staff fighting." he remarked, pulling a sling out of his pocket and picking up a nice roundish rock. "See that rock over there?" he asked pointing to a rock about the size of a jack rabbit 30 yards away. Then with a quick motion the rock was loaded into the pouch of the sling and it circled quickly over his head and with a motion not unlike a baseball pitcher but with a much longer lever arm, and the rock flew out of the sling and hit the larger rock just about dead center.
"Wow Karl! That's really good!", Kenny exclaimed. "I've messed around with slings but no way could I hit a target that small so far away."
"Lotta years of practice, Kenny." Karl replied, proud that he had some skill he could still show off.
"I'd also really like to learn to use an Atl-Atl. You'll have to teach me.", Kenny added.
"What's an 'Atl-Atl' ", Kirsten asked.
"It's a spear throwing device. It increases the range and speed at which you can throw a
spear, similar in the way the sling increases the range and speed at which you can throw a rock. It increases the lenght of the lever arm in the throwing motion." Karl replied.
"Oh! That sounds really cool! I'd like to learn how to use one of those." Kirsten said with her usual bubbly enthusiasm.
"Me too dad!" Karen added.
"Sure. I'll teach all of you. We can do sling and Atl-Atl training on camping trips. Great way to pass the time if you don't have other projects to do." Karl was glad he had a bunch of interested Millenials he could pass this knowledge and skill onto before buying his Ticket to the Great Beyond.
Finishing up breakfast and doing cleanup on the cookware and dishes, everyone was well packed with calories to begin the day's work of a Kollapsnik Prepper.
"So what are we doing today? Climbing?", Kirsten asked hopefully.
"No, we'll go climbing and exploring tomorrow." Kenny replied. "Today we're going to start work on a Funicular Railway and Cable System to more easily get materials up the slope from base camp and then get game meat back down to where we can get it over to Karl's place with his horses."
"You have horses Karl?" Kirsten inquired. "I love horseback riding!" she effervesced.
"Maybe we can go for a ride together later Kirsten. Kenny doesn't ride.", Karen responded. Despite her sense of a competition for Kenny's affections, Kirsten bubbly nature was quite engaging and she was starting to like her quite a bit.
"I don't know how to ride YET!", Kenny said indignantly, feeling a bit left out. "That's another thing on the list of stuff to learn this summer!"
"Oh, no problem Kenny, I'll be happy to teach you!" Karen remarked, now finding an opening to get some alone time with Kenny.
Like Karen, Kirsten was beginning to like her quite a bit as well, although this offer to teach Kenny horseback riding gave her a pang of jealousy. She might be planning other lessons in other kinds of riding for Kenny also.
"Well, before anyone does any riding, we need to get the materials we brought up the mountain." Karl said. "I'll finish the cleanup here from breakfast while you 3 get that job done."
"Sounds like a plan, Karl." Kenny replied. "Let's go ladies!" Kenny said with a smile.
They unloaded their backpacks to have room to carry up the tools and hardware Karl had brought, which with 3 of them working did not take very long. Although Karen and Kenny were much larger than Kirsten, she was much faster climbing up and down the slope and made 3 trips in the time it took them to make two. So in all they brought up pretty much the same amount each, working up a decent sweat doing it.
"That went pretty fast!" Karl remarked. "So where do we get started?"
"There's still hardware I bought this week at Home Depot in my trailer Karl. I figured you and Karen would ride the horses over there to get the stuff, but since Kirsten also rides, they can go together to get the stuff. You and I can stay here and start cutting down some saplings to make rails with. You did bring some axes and saws, right?"
"Yup, sure did." Karl replied, nodding his head. "I've got a couple of hand axes, camping saws and my Dewalt Cordless Electric Chainsaw as well. It's much quieter than my gas models, so less chance of anyone hearing us and reporting us to the Rangers. Less powerful of course, but plenty strong enough to buzz through 2" diameter saplings with a quick swipe."
"OK, we'll get going then. Kirsten, can you navigate us back to the lot where Kenny parked the Van?", Karen asked.
"Ummm, not sure about that…", Kirsten replied.
"No issues. Here's my GPS. It has the route we took here stored and the location of the van as well.", Kenny said, handing her the GPS.
Karen and Kirsten headed down the hill to where Mr. Ed and Quickdraw were tied to a couple of trees, with Karen mounting Mr. Ed since he was a slightly larger horse than Quickdraw and Kirsten mounting the smaller horse. She still was a good deal below the saddle height, but mounted as quickly as Karen with a quick jump and pull on the pommel on the Western Saddle.. Getting up high off the ground with a jump was something she trained how to do from the age of 5.
For the early part of the ride until getting to the trails, they went at a slow walking speed, but then were able to trot for much of the rest of the ride with the travois empty and light. They were able to cover the 8 miles to the van relatively quickly. On the way back with the travois loaded, they would have to go at a slow walk so it would take longer. They wouldn't be making it back until quite close to lunchtime.
The two young women settled in for the ride and rode side by side to chat as much as they could, although often spots were narrow or only passable in one place, so they had to ride single file. The main subjects of the chat were, collapse, prepping, and of course, Kenny. Although most curious about the last one and Kirsten's relationship with him, Karen saved that until they had more time to get to know each other and hit the less charged topics first.
"So Kirsten, how long have you been interested in Collapse issues?"
"mmm, pretty recently after taking some Ecology courses in college. One of my professors was pretty convinced we're going to have a major ecological collapse and a possible Near Term Human Extinction. How about you?"
"Really just since I got together with my dad, Karl. I didn't even know he was my dad until last winter my mom told me right before she died. I just got together with him a couple of weeks ago and he's been giving me the crash course, including reading assignments on the Doomstead Diner.", Karen said with a laugh.
"That's an interesting coincidence. Kenny also gives me reading assignments on the Diner.", Kirsten replied.
That gave Karen the opening she needed.
"Yea, they are both "Lurkers" on the Diner. So, how long have you known Kenny?", Karen asked in as neutral a voice as she could muster up.
Kirsten suspected Karen was probing her on her relationship with Kenny, but she wasn't even sure of it herself and certainly wasn't the type of girl to "kiss and tell".
"Oh, I knew him in High School. Well, more accurately I knew OF him. He was considered a character and nerd and kind of a nut case, going on rants about collapse over the lunch table. A couple of weeks ago though I saw him at a local hangout, and since I got interested in collapse I decided to go talk to him and pick his brain. He talked my ear off.", Kirsten said, rolling her eyes. "It was really interesting though. He's a fountain of information on the topic."
"Hmmmm, that's another interesting coincidence.", Karen mused. "That's around the same time I got together with Karl."
"Must be Karma.", Kirsten replied.