To all the dad's:

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    Clayton Bolton

    HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all my union brother’s. Wish’n I could spend today with mine, sure miss him.

    I wrote the following to honor my father several years back for The USA. It’s a little windy but its a part of who I am…

    June, 2011


    Thanks to dad, my love and respect of the “Great” outdoors started early in my life.  My family began backpacking into desolate wilderness areas when I was around six years old. Dad had purchased a wild donkey caught in the high mountain deserts of Nevada for 25 bucks that was judged to be around a year old. After many months of work, Mr. Barney was “pack broke” and acted kinda’ like a big dog. Although he wasn’t much for riding, he would follow us almost anywhere. If we rode him while barefoot, he would turn his head and try to bite our toes.

    The aeronautical engineer side of dad allowed him to design and fabricate some extremely light weight aluminum pack boxes for a greater useful load. This let us pack in a four man rubber raft along with the tents, food, and other camp gear needed for long journeys. We could row troll high mountain lakes that had probably never had a boat on them before us.

    I just couldn’t wait for school to be out and summer to come along. That meant, two to three weeks at a time, high into the cool mountains when the valley temps topped 100. We would stay at the lakes where the “fishin’ was best”, kept ‘em cool during the day packed in the banks of snow that never melted at that altitude, and supplement the food we packed in with our catch. We always seemed to be able to camp where we wanted, because in the mid 1960’s it was not unusual to not see another person the whole trip.

    Dad and mom were very patient (and brave) to take, brother, sister and I the middle child, on such trips at our young age. Even though our pack animal carried the brunt of the load, we all carried our own clothes, bed roll and gear, in our own packs, on our own backs. We were in dad and mom’s outdoor classroom at all times. It was quite the experience learning how to survive, what to do if lost, how to build shelters, what plants are safe to eat,… well you get the idea. All lessons well taught.

    One particular trip that I think about from time to time, really changed my cocky, know it all at 9 years of age attitude of the time. It was our first trip in of the summer toward our favorite lake. I “knew” the trail and had hiked well ahead of the family. There are many parts of the trail that cross solid granite, and the first hikers into the area after the snow melt typically mark the forks in the trails with stacks of rocks. Well, I missed the stack marking the fork to Dick’s Lake and continued to blunder down the wrong trail toward parts unknown. After a while, too long a while, nothing looked familiar. It was starting to get dark and I should have been at the lake by now. I was lost. I stayed on the trail, parked my butt, pulled out my canteen and some jerky and figured “this is where I’m gonna’ spend the night”. I had a good down bag and coat, plenty of water, and most important of all, dad’s voice in my head telling me to stay put and DON’T PANIC.

    What seemed like an eternity (probably not more than an hour), I could hear dad coming down the trail, calling my name. When he saw me, there was no yelling, or even a mild scolding, just a big loving hug. Seems the rest of the family had initially missed the fork also. Since dad couldn’t find any of my boot prints on the right trail (yes dad made note of what all our boot tracks looked like) he sent my mom, brother and sister to head for the lake to set up camp while he chased me down. The trail I was on would eventually end up at our destination, it just added another five or six miles to the trek.

    Dad and I arrived at camp well after dark. There was warm food and cup of hot chocolate waiting for us. Dad never really said anything about what I did wrong, just reinforced what I did right. Of course my siblings razzed me for quite sometime after.

    Dad and I were never far apart throughout my life. He taught me to fish, shoot, hunt, and even fly airplanes. He was the most kind and honest person anyone could have met. A little over five years ago we had made plans for another fly-in fishing trip to BC as soon as I finished the annual inspection and some repairs on his airplane. We never made it. He passed suddenly.

    Father’s day is still a little teary for me. When I spend this day with my family, I just can’t help but to think my dad is still there with us.

    Thank you for the wonderful memories and life values you taught me dad, I love you and miss you, and HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.




    I got to spend the day fishing with my dad.  I cherish every moment.  Thanks for sharing your stories.  Knowing that folks like you (who I have tremendous respect) do not have their dads today, breaks my heart.


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