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Archive for the ‘Camping’ Category

I’m a week into being plugged back into the “real” world. I have to tell you the transition has been rather difficult. Inundated with alerts, messages, ring tones, and other artificial things is causing my animal spirit to bury deep back into the hiding place it was before the trip. It’s been a struggle but not entirely unexpected.

Five days on the water with the cell phone quitting after river mile 0.13 enabled me to tap into something everyone has but probably never gets the opportunity to let breath. I was on river time with nothing but a beginning and an end to help guide me through the day. Never a wasted moment…everything…including the catnap…full of purpose.

It all started with a 4+ hour drive toward Canada with a strategic left at the end to keep us out of their backyard…eh. Add to that a pleasant midnight cruise across the lake and the trip was well underway.

Routine was simple. Breakdown camp…float to next camp…setup camp. Add a little sprinkling of food, beer, fishing, beer, napping, beer, ladder ball, beer, lounging, beer…you get the idea.

It’s hard to capture the entire 5 days in a post and frankly I don’t think I want to. I’m sure I’d lose most folks at about page 2 and a lot of it you “just had to be there”. So in a nutshell…

Covered 50+ river miles in 4 rafts with 13 dudes and caught enough grayling to last a lifetime. Lived in the moment and missed being home with the family. Ate good and slept good. Laughed a lot and smiled a lot. Lost a few things and found a few more. Shared a few things and learned a few things. Rested a little and fished a lot. Caught the big one and lost the big one. Got dirty and lived like a bear.

Good trip.

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I spent two days with the 4 weight on a small creek casting between bright red fire trucks. Trying hard not to hook one of the bright red beasties and trying even harder not to break off and re-rig. When they’re fresh and chrome they’re worth the fight, now they’re just a nuisance keeping me from the real prize.

My timing was good. Found them everywhere I thought they would be. Tucked in behind the spawners they were easy to spot. Most were scrappy but a few made the old Hardy sing a little tune.

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Since early July I’ve been on the water a few hours here and there but not with a fly rod. It’s been about 60 days since I fished for me. When you go on droughts like I do you get a bit anxious and rowdy when the next opportunity rolls around. A lot rides on that first cast…that first take…and that first fish.

The anticipation is almost unbearable. It isn’t until you step out of the boat, wade into the water, and make that first cast that you settle down and remember why there isn’t anything else you would rather do than this.

This past week I finally was able to get back at it. The trip was in the works for a year or so. Fished with Savoy last year about this time. Thought we might try it again this year. I was able to work in two full days…sun up to sun down.

Rolled into camp late Friday night and eased into the program. With cold beer in hand and a camp fire, Savoy and I got caught up and prepped gear for the next day.

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By the looks of the campground it was obvious there was going to be a bit of traffic on the water. It’s been like that for years now. I’m not quite sure how the river handles it but it does with great fortitude and determination. Fortunately there is a lot of water to cover and not everyone has patience enough to work a run properly. Leaves enough fish for the rest of us willing to take it to the next level. The fish are usually better all around.

For two days straight Savoy and I worked the runs, seams, ledges, dropoffs, and side channels. We were lucky enough to pull more than our fair share of better than average fish. Much different game than last year. This go around it was more of a sight thing. Great feeling to spot one, match the hatch, and connect. I caught myself several times holding my breathe as I anticipated the take.

60 days is a long time between casts.

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Nice spots.

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Big head. That guy was no more than 10 feet away in water barely deep enough to cover my knees. Watch where you wade and work near to far.

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Dolly Jabba.

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Back you go.

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What are the odds?

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Camp life.

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Dinner...bigger the better.

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Morning launch.

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Heading upstream.

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2 o'clock...

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Sight fished in 2-1/2 feet of water. Full sun.

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Photo credit: Alaska Department of Fish & Game. License check.

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Fumble.

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Due to a mix-up at the campground entrance…got a better camping spot out of the deal.

Cut an hour plus hike into one kickass 15 minute bike ride.

Shared a beautiful piece of water with friends.

Got to show one of them for the first time.

Threw a few dries and buggers.

Caught a few.

Watched hundreds and hundreds of salmon swim by my feet.

Stood in the middle of them as they nervously rushed by.

Brought a few home.

Grilled one up the next day.

Makes for a good day wouldn’t you say?

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The past couple of weeks have been hectic. Both sides of the family are due in town in a couple of weeks. Been heavy into harvest mode gathering up the necessary fish and game for the summer backyard bbq sessions. The hands and fingers wear the signs of use and abuse.

I’ve been sampling the goods heavily. I feel it is my duty as a good host. Have to be sure that what I’m serving up is worthy of the effort.

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The Bash

When you work an 8 to 5, the weekends hold a special place. For the first time in 3+ years, my wife and I are going camping with a group of friends sans kids. Not sure if the stars aligned or what but we are taking this opportunity and running with it. What marks this special occasion you say…my wife’s 30th birthday!

The plan was to go camping at Bird Creek. It seemed the perfect spot…close to town, slight wilderness experience and camp fires allowed. Being so close to town (a mere 25 miles away) I never thought twice about securing a camping spot. I told everyone…don’t worry…who would camp at Bird Creek when they could easily drive into town. Ohh was I wrong!

Bird Creek

Bird Creek | Photo by NRT

Friday evening after putting the kids to bed I headed out to secure a spot for Saturday night. My thought was to find a spot, set up camp, and head home hoping no one would steal what I left behind. What a great plan it was. I rehearsed it in my head and I even had a friend to help me out.

After circling the 26 campsites like a vulture hoping someone would find me creepy and decide to pack up and leave…I decide to make one more round through the campground. That is when I met Sheryl. Who is Sheryl you say? The campground host that’s who. Her “job” is to make sure the campground is pleasant for all those who may decide to plunck down $15 a night to sing songs and make smores.

I failed to mention that I was carrying about 20 pallets in the back of my truck. Sheryl caught sight of this as I made my way around the campground and her concern for the “pleasantness” of the campground forced her to wave me down. I can still remember what she said to me, “Ohhh…you aren’t a young guy…I was worried when I saw all of those pallets”. Nice. After putting her mind at ease I decided to head home.

The next morning I woke up and decided to head back early. I wasn’t able to sleep much that night knowing full well that the success of this mission was counting on me! Man did I luck out. I had scoped out a spot earlier and was hoping the inhabitants would be gone by the time I reached the campground. Score baby! Campsite…check…tent up…check…chairs out…check…pallets unloaded…checkmate.

We all returned later that day with coolers full of camp food and spirits. Sheryl stopped by to say “hi” and so did the Forest Service (nice guys). Apparently pallets are a concern. As Smokey the Bear would say, “Only you can prevent forest fires”.

The party got off to a quick start with a certain somebody knocking away a six pack in 10 minutes. The evening’s festivities included Texas Hold’Em, bocce balls and the crowd favorite…Forest Croquet. That’s right…no camping trip is complete without Forest Croquet.

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Forest Croquet anyone? | Photo by J. Borman

Birthday Girl…she is on the far right. Mr. “10 Minute Six Pack”…he’s the one in the middle.

My wife told me later she had a great time. It means a lot to me that the trip turned out to be fun for my wife. She works awfully hard and takes great care of us. It’s only fair we return the favor. A lot of friends showed up to wish my wife “Happy Birthday”, which meant the world to her. The smile on her face said it all. Happy Birthday Sweetheart! Love…Everyone!

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