Feral! Report — Day 4

On this, the second day of Feral!, I actually learned how to use the hot water in the shower. Now, you may not think that’s very important, but believe me it is. I was not about to be tricked by Camp Arowhon into doing the Polar Bear Swim unwittingly. The trick to get the hot water to work is to turn the hot water on. Yes, coyotes can be stymied by the simplest of tasks.

There were two things I really wanted to do at Feral! aside from see Wolfin: go kayaking and do some hiking. Sunday was hike day. Now, it is always important to let someone else know that you are about to go traipsing off into the wilderness, so they know to send out a rescue team if you don’t come back. It’s also good to go with a friend, so if you do get lost, you can get lost with a friend. After informing Potoroo and some of the others about my desire, and learning about a few of the trails behind camp, Wolfin somehow got roped into going hiking with me, and off we went.

There are a number of trails with impressive views back behind the camp, and it’s quiet out there too. Camp is quiet as it is, but take away the hundred-odd furs and the stillness is so profound it’s impossible not to hear oneself think.

There are lakes everywhere up there, and naturally the trails take you to a couple of them. Over the course of the morning, I believe Wolfin and I hiked all the major ones. The first took us to Beaver Something-or-other, where we stopped at a rock promontory and stared at the meadow and pond several yards beneath and before us. The weather was pleasant that day, and so we stayed there for a few minutes admiring the beauty before deciding to move on. On the way back, we passed by another, larger lake. The water was so black and smooth, it offered a magnificent reflection of the trees and sky.

There were two things we forgot, and a third would have been useful. Sunscreen we had, because we did not wish to be burned. Bug spray we did not have, and neither one of us had enough water to be useful in time of emergency. (Although I suppose we could have consumed the lake water and risked the parasites later if we had to.) I am not accustomed to taking water on moderately short, well-marked trails, especially when it is as cool as it was, not even hot and humid enough to break a sweat. This leads me to the second item we forgot: a map.

The trails are supposed to be marked, and they are.

Just not well.

Their idea of a marker was a painted wooden block, weathered from exposure to the elements and posted at long intervals. Something a little more eye-catching would have been nice, although I do have to give them credit for the sign they posted at a crossroads. (Also, Croft State Park just a few miles away from here has as bad or worse markers.) It was also evident the trails did not see much use, as grown up as they were in places. It was never too difficult to see the trail, though, just difficult at times to tell which was what. The obvious exception was near the stables, where horses walk the trail and trample it to mud. At least when you see that (and other things) you know you can’t be too far from the camp.

We made it back alive, I think. Could be wrong.

After lunch was another game of watermelon football, but I had other plans. Rikoshi, last year’s guest of honor, returned this year as a regular attendee, and he led a writer’s workshop on constructing a furry world. We had to wait a few minutes for the building we were meeting in to be unlocked, but it was not long before we were able to begin.

The workshop was not quite what I expected, which was a good thing because it turned out to be far better. Discussed was the difference between different types of furry stories (is there a reason for their furry-ness, or is it just the way they are?) and there was a writing exercise at the end. Papers were passed around, and in one of the corners was written an occupation, a species, and a genre. The idea was to write the opening to a story connecting all three; or, failing an opening, to provide a synopsis of a story. I was presented with: turtle, piano tuner, day-in-the-life.

You will never see this story.

After the workshop was a game called Predator vs Prey, which sounded horribly complicated so I ended up not participating. (I ended up being 0 for 3 for the afternoon activities.) There was another reason for my absence, though. The workshop had got me thinking about the story I have been working on, and ways to improve it. I spent the afternoon dozing and thinking about the story, writing a few more pages of it and getting feedback from others on the story subject.

Feral! will be responsible for the impending total rewrite.

That night was furry improv, which was… odd. Improv has this tendency to start out strong, then turn weird before finally fizzling if it goes on too long. “Too long” varies depending on the skill level of the victim. While I thought about participating, I did not in the end. They had their traditions, and as I was an outsider, I wanted to observe and see how they did things before getting too far into it. Next time I will have a better idea of what to expect.

Sometime that day, although I cannot remember when or why, Pathfinder and I started to talk. He joined me on a couple Monday expeditions, but you will have to wait until later to read about them.

And then at the end of the day, Wolfin and I headed back to the cabin to retire for the night. We talked about our stories for a few minutes, inadvertently keeping someone else in the cabin awake, so we ended discussion and resumed the next day.

Bark at me