The Piney Creek Hunting Club, or as its members called it, the PCHC, was a small group of dedicated hunters and amateur survivalists that, after spending quite a few years hunting as a group anyway, decided to make it official and form a hunting ‘club’. In the end though, they were all just great friends who enjoyed nothing more then spending the day high on a mountain side, searching the rocky crags above them for a trophy Rocky Mountain goat, sitting out on the open prairie under a candy-striped umbrella shooting at distant prairie dogs with highly accurate rifles or sitting silently at dawn, waiting for a huge Mulie buck to appear within shooting range. They all got along fairly well, and except for a few post-hunting, alcohol-heated arguments about caliber or bullet selection, everyone got along great.
Several years ago, the group--a grand total of four in number--had all pitched in an equal share and purchased a sizable piece of land high in the remote mountains of northwestern Wyoming. They then spent almost the entire next year hauling the materials necessary to build a small but comfortable cabin on their land. The cabin stood next to a small creek which was almost entirely hidden by the huge pine trees that blanketed the slopes, hence the name “Piney Creek Hunting Club.” The cabin itself was a simple design, with a large bunk room, a kitchen, a well-lit area for hunting and reloading gear, a large great room with a large comfortable couch and fireplace and a deep cellar. The cabin was built as solid as a rock. Tony, the third member of the club, was a general contractor when he wasn’t out hunting, and he had made sure that everything--from the thick wooden doors that when closed, completely covered the windows to the sheet-metal roof--could easily withstand the extreme weather that the cabin would see during the winter months.
It was almost 2:30 in the morning before Dave made the final turn and started up the quarter-mile long gravel driveway that led to the front of the cabin. Andrew had fallen asleep a couple hours before, and slept quietly against the passenger side window. As they pulled up in front of the dark cabin, Dave nudged Andrew and told him that they were there. They would spend the last night of the hunt in the cabin and then start out in the morning on the eleven-hour drive back to their homes in northern Utah. Andrew awoke and sleepily climbed out of the truck. Dave already had the front door of the cabin opened and had turned on the porch light to provide enough light to move the rifles and gear from the SUV and into the cabin. The two men quickly unloaded the gear and retired for the night.
It was almost 11:00am before either of the two men awoke. Andrew was the first to wake up and as he made his way to the kitchen to fire up the coffeepot, he noticed a small red LED on the cabin’s power supply display that was blinking. “Damn! The batteries didn’t charge yesterday. Junk-ass relay must be going out again.” he thought to himself as he turned around and headed towards the back door of the cabin to fire up the small generator that would provide enough power for a nice hot cup of coffee. Andrew, who was an electrical engineer by trade, had designed a power system for the cabin. Almost every available square inch of space on the roof was covered with solar panels that provided power and also charged a large bank of batteries in the cellar. The batteries provided power to the cabin during the night and on cloudy days. When the batteries were fully charged, they provided enough power for almost two days of normal use and at least twice that long if power was conserved.
Dave awoke to the sound of the small generator engine turning over as Andrew tried to start it. He climbed out of his cot and made his way to the kitchen. He almost instinctively pushed the power button on the coffee maker and didn’t even notice that the power light on the coffeepot did not light up. He hadn’t slept that well, and he knew that there was another long drive ahead and wasn’t looking forward to it. He figured on a good breakfast and then they would have the cabin locked up and be on the road by 1:00pm. As the generator belched to life outside, he stood up and grabbed a clean coffee cup from the rack. As he stood by the coffeepot, he realized why Andrew was outside messing with the generator and shuffled back to his seat.
“It’s going to be a bit longer on the Joe, bud.” Andrew said, as he walked into the kitchen. “I think that damn relay is going out on that inverter. I’ll order one this week and the next time we’re up here I’ll throw it in.” Andrew added, as he double-checked that the coffeepot was now on its way to brewing. “Hey are you going to be getting more of that SS109 in any time soon?” he asked as he grabbed a coffee cup and stood by the coffeepot, waiting for that first cup.
“Yeah, I should have it in by mid-month. They finally shipped my backorder last week.” Dave said through a yawn. “Those guys sure took their own sweet time getting it out the door too.” he added. Almost a year earlier, Dave had found a really great deal on a large quantity of the 5.56mm NATO ammunition, and had ordered it sight unseen. He knew that it would be easy to sell and he and other members of the PCHC needed some as well. Dave Tanner owned a small sporting goods shop on the old interstate that ran through the center of Peoa, a small town about 50 miles outside of Salt Lake City. He mainly carried fishing tackle and bicycles, but he also carried a good selection of ammunition, hunting and reloading gear and even had a good selection of both rifles and pistols for a shop his size.
The two men quickly made and even more quickly ate a typical hunting camp breakfast of fried spam and eggs on toast. After breakfast, the two men started loading their rifles and other gear into the back of the SUV. As Andrew finished loading the final pieces of gear and closed the rear doors of the truck, he remembered that he wanted to disconnect the battery charging system until he could get the new relay in place. There wasn’t any use in having it malfunction and burn something else out. He climbed down into the cellar and flipped a small toggle switch that disconnected the entire solar charging unit from the series of batteries. He locked up the cabin, climbed into the truck, and the two men were on their way.