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Secret Place of Tramps Tree...Wilderness Treasures © Rolly A. Chabot

Updated on April 5, 2015

The Fireside Chat

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Welcome

Please come in and sit a while, find a chair, couch, rocker and make yourself at home. Thank you for stopping in and please do feel free to say hello, if you are new here please by all means feel welcome. Introductions are a must as we all love to know who you are. Please leave a comment if you like.

A mans home is his castle and this is one castle I want people to feel free to speak as you are considered part of the family here, your voice is important.

It is yet another of those restless nights. Those nights when your head has hit the pillow at 11 and someone or something comes along and slaps you awake, at 12:31 am in my case. So here we are getting ready for likely yet another all nighter. I know, never drink coffee late in the evening and worse yet, please close your eyes or look away from the steaming cup of coffee off to my right.

The setting as you can tell is the old writing chair in the corner, Quigley snoring off to my left and Gizmo the cat purring in his favourite perch behind me, his one paw always plugged in on my shoulder. I have no idea where the words will take us in the wee hours, so buckle up and lets see where we venture... The title will find its home later...know that you are loved and appreciated.

One of Many

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Who is Tramp

Many years ago when I was young, wild and often foolish I was back into some far off countryside. Northern Canada in the Yukon, well to be more specific it was both in the Yukon and British Columbia Canada. I had been out playing in the wilderness one day and quite by accident found myself several miles back in some unknown country. The road I followed was not really a road, more like a goat trail, a place my old van named "Rolly's Royce" cut its teeth. It started out a regular old 3/4 ton Ford van. & years later it was a full blown bush wagon. I raised it up two feet, slipped in a custom 4 x 4 assembly, large steel bumpers front and back with winches on each end. Not much could stop her after that. She was fully camperized and ready to take on any challenge and challenges I found... smiles.

As I would later learn from my topographical maps I was near the great divide between the British Columbia and Yukon Territorial borders. I reached the end of the trail, threw my backpack onto my shoulders along with my rifle and started heading out to what appeared to be a lake in the distance. I estimated it to be some 10-12 miles as the crow flew, the blueish haze that sat in the valley looked promising. Closer inspection through my binoculars indeed revealed a lake.

Tannis my faithful and fearless dog was at my side and we headed out. It was a clear day with a few clouds building in the west over the mountains, traces of smoke filtered through the air but nothing to worry about or so I thought at least. Tannis and I were doing what we did best, heading out on another adventure. Not a living soul was within 70 miles and we were right in our element.

Tannis Mountain

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The Fearless One

For those who have not met this little lady, this was Tannis Mountain. She was my rescue dog and faithful sidekick for many years. Don't be fooled by the cute haircut, she was hot off the grooming table for this pose. Her only objective after any grooming session was to find an old dead fish or anything to mask the shampoo and girly stuff. It was her mission to become one with nature again.

Tannis and I became acquainted one Christmas Eve. I was looking after the Humane Society on a casual basis and got the call late that night. The only words I heard were, "Come and get this dog or I shoot it tonight." When I arrived I found the saddest, filthiest kennel and dog I had ever seen. Tannis had been left with these people, her owners had left on a holiday. While they were away the marriage ended and they just left her, no one claimed her. Neither the wife or the husband called, this was three months later, she had been abandoned.

My first impression was not a good one. When I leaned down to pet her I was greeted with an attempt to bite off the better part of my right hand and arm. The next time it was with no avail as I scooped her up, well gloved and well covered. With great protest I managed to get her into the back of my car, while avoiding her nasty bites. She was a horrible mess and the smell was terrible as she had been living in a 3 x 4 cage that had never been cleaned. It was late and I did not want to take her to the kennel and leave her alone, so I took her home.

The place she deemed safe was behind the wood stove in the corner. Each time I would get close I would be met with gnashing teeth and a warning I was not appreciated. I just placed a bowl of food, fresh water and milk close by, shut off the lights and went to bed. During the night Tannis remained hidden behind the stove, come morning her food had not been touched. It was Christmas Day. I sat in my recliner chair talking with her and each time I said something she would spit volleys and insults back at me.

To make a long story short I took her and her attitude to the groomers after the holidays and when I picked her up later in the day it was like a miracle had transpired. When I entered the shop the young groomer was smiling, sporting a few bandaids she informed me that I had a tattooed registered American Cocker Spaniel. She had placed some calls to the Canadian Kennel Society and learned the dogs registered name was Tannis Mountain. I walked into the back and she opened the cage and Tannis came running and that was it she was adopted or I like to think she adopted me.

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Adventure

So back to the hike again, sorry for the sidetrack. Tannis was nervous that morning and was pacing back and forth a great deal. I wondered if there was another animal or the smell of smoke in the air due to the high fire season, Tannis kept snuffing at the air, pacing in tight circles and whimpering. She was reluctant to go but I insisted and she just followed. We had gone about halfway to the lake site when I started to hear the dull roar. I found high ground and the fire had crested the hill and was coming down the slope to my right.

I had two choices, one to attempt to outrun the fire or the other was to find cover quickly. I glassed the area and off to my left. I could see an old outcropping of rocks that would afford some cover a few miles away. The other option was to climb the 6 miles back to the van that sat on high ground. The chances of me making it back there was slim. So Tannis and I started the slow decent over treacherous ground with the fire about 5 miles away and heading our general direction.

What I found was an old mine shaft leading into the mountain near a slow moving creek. There were two entrances and I chose the one furthest away from any vegetation, the other had a massive old spruce tree leaning far to the left near its entrance. I filled my canteen collected a little firewood and slipped into a semi dark opening, Tannis at my feet, all I could see was the whites of her eyes and a deep growl that never seemed to stop.

Within the half hour the fire crowned itself in the treetops roaring into the valley and creek below. The roar was fierce and Tannis sat close by, shivering but still with the never ending growls. After a long cold night I awoke with a growing dog beside me staring out the cave opening. The fire had passed with doing a great deal of damage mostly in the tree tops but we had made it. The area had plenty of rich green moss on the flat so little would burn. I can tell you I was very thankful to those old miners who had created a safe sanctuary for us that day. Tannis followed reluctantly as I was insistant in checking out the lake far below which lay in the scarred blacked valley below.

I bent at the creek to get some water and I noticed the oddest thing. A set of tracks like none I had ever seen. It was a bear but what was unusual was his left front feet. His right foot was normal but the left was turned outward about 70 degrees, probably from a bad break or injury. His claws tore up the ground as he walked. It was easy to spot in the blacked undergrowth. Tannis kept growling and looking up towards the direction we had come from the van. The tracks of the old bear revealed he had spent his night as we had in an abandoned mine shaft and thankfully it was the one next door.

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His Markings

We arrived at the lake a number of hours later and made camp. Tannis had watched the danger pass and was once again herself. It was a good thing she was black and hardly showed the results of trapsing through the burn. I was filthy, a splash and dash bath was in order. The area we were in had been spared and the meadow was covered in natural moss. making a great place to spread out a sleeping bag.

We spent 5 days back in this area, the lake was filled with trout and grayling. As far as I could tell I was fishing in BC without a license. If a game warden were to have come along I would have been more than happy to pay the fine. The trout were some of the best eating I have ever had.

Tannis and I began the long uphill climb back again on the 6th day. Near the mine Tannis started to growl again. I glassed the area and 1000 yards ahead, sure enough there stood an old male grizzly bear. He was on his hinds legs, his right claw was ripping at the lone spruce to his dwelling entrance I assumed. The only other exit choice we had was directly in his path, it was the shortest route back to the van. Off to my right was an impossible climb up a rock wall with a 65 pound pack, a rifle and of course the dog who hated bears. To the left would mean walking several extra miles through rough terrain. I chambered a bullet and shot high into the tree he was working on. He never moved only turned and snuffed at the air. The next shot was inches away from his head, the bullet slammed into the tree and he began running off in the left direction. His gate was fast but impeded by his crippled left leg. He stopped a few times and looked around, only to be met with another shot at the closest tree. The last I saw he disappeared over the ridge.

Tannis an I made our way up. The closer we got the stiffer Tannis became and her growling grew louder all the time. I stopped at his tree he had been tearing at and there were several deep gouges from his massive claws. I stand close to 6 feet tall and this guys claw marks were a good three feet higher. Needless to say I moved fairly quickly after that and Tannis close behind me.

The bear well he like many of natures characters I met in the wild was given a name that day. He became none as "Tramp" and the tree well it became "Tramps Tree." I would run across old Tramp a few times over the years as I visited the area many times. The last I saw him was very late one fall, he was heading into his mineshaft den I suspected for his winter sleep. His coat was heavy, the finest coat I think I ever saw on a bear. It was a golden brown and the guard hairs were almost a white. It shone in the late afternoon sun. He stopped once, raised up on his hind legs, sniffed at the air and looked in our direction. I heard a few loud snorts and watched as he tore at the ground with his good front foot. The debris flew high into the air. He was letting me know this was his area and we were but guests.

Sadly one spring I found Tramps remains in the cave. Several bones in a heap undisturbed and a few strips of his fine coat. Old Tramp had slipped away in his sleep that winter. Winters at well below -50 could rob the life out of anything. One of the reasons a wise man stays close to the stove during those times. Two strips of Tramps fur later became the top dressings of a new pair of mukluks. Somewhere in my collection of years past are five of his claws. I guess you could say old Tramp and I have been hanging around together for many years. I made it a point that day to carve his name into his tree. "Tramps Tree" it could likely still be found if his tree is still standing.

Now This

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Flat Lander

I often ponder those days, they were fulfilling years with little or no worries. Tannis passed away many years later and I buried her in a heavily wooded area of my acreage A beautiful spot I had bought here in Northern Alberta. Right beside her a close friend we picked up along the way named Wind. She was a Shelty/Whippet cross who was fast friends with Tannis, her teacher and mentor for a number of years. Wind passed away a year later, I think she mourned a great deal and slowly gave up. I planted two wild Jackpine trees, one on either side of their resting places. Their view would have been a perfect setting for both of them, a small stream and pond out front and the mountains off to the west. The trees were but saplings at the time. Today they stand thirty feet high, look close enough about 15 feet up, you will see the names carved in the bark. "Tannis" on one and "Wind" on the other. I have gone back a few times over the years and the site still remains as it was, only far more mature. I smile as I write this as many I have matured with the two of them.

So here I sit, smiling at the thought I would love to go back to Tramps Tree someday then realize I could barely lift or carry a pack that size anymore, let alone a rifle and challenge that adventure once more. Today I have become a flat lander as you can see from the picture above. Beautiful yes and only a short drive to the mountains. The heaviest load I can carry now is myself and my camera.

Thank you all for allowing me to relive some of my adventures again. I so miss those days but they were a season in my life. I had 15 of the best years a man could ask for sitting on a hillside overlooking some of the wildest country a man could imagine. Right beside me was Tannis Mountain who's name was derived from the Cree Indian words "Little Girl." Rest well my little friend, maybe some day we can be together and romp again.

Hugs and Blessings to you all... know that you are dearly loved....Please share some of the places you have lived that touched your heart and impacted you... the floor is open and we all await...


Hank Karr a good friend wrote and sings this song.

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well I reckon that I surely am glad that you had a sleepless night. One of the finest tales I have read in quite some time. Thank you and Tannis and Wind and Tramp.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Eric... will be a long day of driving and spending time with others, especially after no sleep... smiles... Glad you wee able to tag along. Sorry you missed out on some of the finest eating trout in the land. Tannis was certain to get her share... smiles.

      Hugs and Blessings to you and yours

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Happy Easter friend

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Rolly, I spent six months in Montana in 2013. Your tales of the Yukon remind me of my adventures in the Wilderness Areas of western Montana. I may be off to southern Oregon in June, so more adventures await. I'm hoping a dog will be added to the experience this time. Thanks for the wonderful writing.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 2 years ago from Northern California

      Wow! Wonderful story. I too live around bears and encountered a wildfire. I invite you to read, my day as an arson suspect. Happy easter!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      I don't know what impressed me more, your hiking or Tannis. What wonderful adventures you shared, and how lucky we are you shared them with us.

      This is the stuff great books and movies are made of! I hope you've gotten some sleep so you have enough strength for your next sleepless night. I have a felling there are more adventures to tell.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I know I should be ashamed, but I'm glad you couldn't sleep. I remember Tannis well from your other adventures. although I didn't know about the adoption. You have lived a rich and full life. You write from the heart, that's what makes your chat's so enjoyable. I especially liked your comment about you and Tannis being together again someday. Wouldn't her eye's light up seeing you? Thank's again for sharing...

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
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      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Cam8510... will be in Montana this summer to do a little Fly Fishing and hiding near Kalispell. Heard much about the area, been through the Great Falls and Shelby area several times.

      Hope you have a great time in Oregon, that is another area I would love to spend time in. Be sure and get a dog if you can, they make awesome company...

      Blessings

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
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      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi GarnetBird... First please allow me to welcome you to the Fireside and I do hope you met new people here, come as often as you like.Wildlife and man can co-exist as long as they understand the boundaries. Man fails miserably sometimes...

      Hugs and Blessings

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Rolly, When you are in Kalispell, look for a place called Jewel Basin. You may already know about it, though. It's only 26 miles from Kalispell. I had some great times there fly fishing in the lakes and the views are tremendous. On the way in and out, you can see Flathead Lake in the distance. Have a great time.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
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      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Ruby... Thanks for the comment and yes it would be awesome if we could again meet. A funny thing happens when we bring an animal not our family. They become such a larger part of who we become. They do so through unconditional love. Tannis was just that after all she had been through I like to think she found the home she was meant to be in. She so loved the outdoors and just hanging with me. I truly miss her as she became a huge part of my life.

      Hugs and Blessings my Friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Rolly, you certainly have led an interesting life. I love Tramp's story. It seems he'd come to recognize you and Tannis. It's only fitting that part of him remains with you.

      I would have been terrified being in the woods with a fire chasing me. But you braved it, survived, and went on to a new adventure.

      This is a wonderful story, Rolly. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
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      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Thanks Cam8510... great tip, love it and certainly will. I will be doing some reading on the area before I leave but the inside information is invaluable.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Bravewarrior...

      Yes Tramp I suppose came to get used to us being around, the same as we had gotten used to him being in close proximity. More so the fact we had mutual respect for each other. Tannis was one to never back down from anything, her tenacity got us into trouble many times.

      Tramp has left me with many great memories of those days, the wilderness like anything in life is understanding our limitations. It taught me many things. Above all it taught me who I was again, I respect her greatly for the way she moulded me.

      Hugs from Canada

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, Rolly, Thank you for taking us along on your wild adventures. It was most thrilling, especially with precious Tannis along. I would have been terrified with the fire looming and then Tramp the grizzly there in his territory!

      I know you miss those days of old, but I am glad you are still enjoying the beautiful land and sharing your amazing photos with us.

      That was also a sweet side tale of how Tannis became part of your family.

      You are a dear. God bless you.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Hugs from southern USA

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
      Author

      Rolly A Chabot 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Faith Reaper...

      I can tell you this much Faith Reaper we did have fun, I wa both to live adventure and Tannis just added to the elements. She was a riot to have along. It just goes to show animal or man a little love goes a long way.

      Missing the old days has been a part of life for many years as I look around at where I live now, but then alas it is where I find myself... Thank for all the repining....

      Hugs and Blessings

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      If you have the nerve to do it, I can carry that pack, a rifle, AND my camera. Just say the word. As long as you remember the way, we'll be all right.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image
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      Rolly A Chabot 7 months ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Deb... sorry fpor the long delay in getting to this comment. I really do need to clean up my act... hugs. A true man will do all the carrying and yes I do remember the way very well. Tramp was indeed and interesting creature whom you could learn from. Ready when you are, I will let you capture the images. I must say though he was one impressive bear who certainly had my respect...

      Hugs from Canada

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