Vicarious Adventure Continues
Over 1000 blog visits in the past 6 months, that is simply amazing, thank you. This following gives me the confidence needed to continue the blog, photo books and hopefully an actual book someday soon. I have made one photo/scrap book through shutterfly of my Centennial trail adventure, as some people don’t like to read and look at photos online. The scrap books are a bit more time intensive to make and cost $ (unlike the blog), if you’re interested in buying one please send me a message. Details: 8 1/2" x 11", soft cover, 27 pages including select text from blog and 187 photos.
I’ve been laying low since racing a few weeks ago, slowly building up strength in my achilles tendon so I can go play again. Catching up on volunteering/helping friends and family with projects. I recently had the opportunity to spend a relaxing week at a good friend’s family cabin on Upper Cormorant Lake in Minnesota. This cabin being quite primitive, (especially in the winter) feels like camping indoors with a wood stove for warmth. Upon arriving on Tuesday Nov 3, it was almost dark but a beautiful sunset was starting to set in so I hurried out to the bridge (where Upper Cormorant and Rossman lakes connect) and settled in for some me and the outdoors time. As I stood there in peace taking deep breathes of the fresh air, I could feel my mind and body resetting itself. Wow, I really needed this! Ducks were floating nearby, fish jumping in the lake behind me, a little breeze and tranquility began to set in. I did some yoga while focusing on breathing and some stretching to further set my connection with nature and purge my mind of any oncoming thoughts. After spending 10 days cooped up in a house recovering from the races I didn’t realize how much I missed the great outdoors, this is definitely where I belong J
The first morning waking at the lake cabin, the fog was so dense the water nor beach could be seen! The large white wall could just have been snow. It took the entire morning to wear off, slowing dissipating and allowing the sun to peek through the dense clouds. Made for a perfect morning to hike in the nearby post glacial terrain (hills and valleys full of trees). Even though my achilles was still tender a nice short walk was needed and I had a strong desire to get LOST for a while. I think getting lost humbles the ego, relaxes one mine and allows the soul to reconnect with nature; we are just a small piece of it after all. I walked along the wide hiking/skiing paths, covered in leaves, which wound around alive and dead trees strewn all over. Cresting the first hill I found a spot to meditate and do some yoga poses. Continuing down a valley then back up another hill I spotted a very large eagle’s nest with one bald eagle flying nearby. I always pay my respect to the presence of an eagle, they are such powerful and wise birds. I turned around at this point, knowing still where I was, so I took a sharp right and headed onto an unknown game trail that followed along the seemingly endless lake with a shore filled of cattails. I was becoming more aware of my surroundings, noticing the textures of bark, colors of vegetation alive and dead, various mushrooms in their different stages of decomposition. Along my short journey I had unknowingly walked across the original path in a clover loop sort of way, and actually got myself lost, it was bliss! This feeling has overcome me several times in the past 6 months most notably on the Centennial trail, hiking in Juneau, and mountain biking in Whitefish, MT.
That afternoon I set up my paddle board to go fishing, adding an old milk crate to the back to hold my pole and gear. The water was chilly and the air temp wasn’t much better, rain came down from time to time so I equipped myself with one layer of merino wool and rain coat on top, neoprene pants on bottom with gortex shoes. I wasn’t warm at this point, but knew paddling would change that in a hurry. I was going to head out on the big lake launching from the nice sand beach but by the time I was ready the wind had come up substantially so I found a launch point into the weeds on the smaller lake and set off. I’d never caught a fish in either of these lakes so I didn’t know what to expect, I was fishing for small mouth bass maybe a bluegill or sunny from time to time. With a small spinner rig on I casted from a kneeling or sitting position on the board while it floated wherever the wind was blowing me. The water was 1-5 feet deep with a lot of weeds, it took me an hour of catching weeds to find some holes where I could actually alert a fish to my lure before dragging through the weeds. Coming upon some fallen trees I casted nearby and had a fish on immediately, but this didn’t feel like a bass it was a much larger hit and felt like a log from time to time, it was a foot long northern pike and fought in short stretches instead of continuously like a bass. The pike could easily move me and the board when it fought making the catch ever more fun! Awesome caught a fish, this was going to be a great day…the fishing continued as I paddled into calmer areas then let the wind push me across to the other side of cattails. I caught a lot of pike, small ones at first but then pulled in a 3 pounder, woohoo supper! I grabbed the stringer and finagled it through the pike’s gills and out through the mouth. This is a much tougher feat on the paddle board, I had to use my core muscles to keep the board steady while I concentrated on the fish, it turned out to be a zen moment in a way, glad I have been doing a lot of yoga on board. Tying off the stringer to the milk crate, (this is the first time I had kept a fish while fishing on the paddle board) the pike was secure, I had to paddle back across the lake before fishing again, this was a new experience with the extra rudder on back J I caught several fish that day, one more keeper and a bass to at least fulfill that dream. Eventually I headed back towards the bridge to see if my friends had caught anything from shore. They were catching pike and bass too. I fished over there for a while, then finally letting the cold settle into my mind I went back to shore. Brought the fish in, my gear and loaded the boat back onto my truck. Changing into warm clothing felt great as I knew the chills were setting in. Some hot tea was on the agenda before filleting the fish. That night we filled our bellies with fried fish, curry, and a bottle of red wine.
The following morning I woke up to more fog but not as heavy as the day before. My achilles was feeling sore from the short walk the day before. The big lake was mostly calm with a small breeze, this was my chance to fish out there. So I made coffee, got the boat ready and down to the beach, threw a few more layers on this time since it was a constant mist of rain and a bit colder than the day before. I caught a few fish on the big lake over 3 hours including pike and a bluegill. The wind was picking up so I decided to paddle under the bridge over to the smaller lake where it was nice a calm. There was barely enough water to allow my passage between lakes, actually a nice feature to keep other potential boaters from invading my quite zone, but I really didn’t have anything to worry about no one else was that crazy to be fishing in a sub 40 degree day with intermittent rain! On the other side, I caught a few more fish nothing to keep then headed for shore to say bye to friends that were leaving and warm up by the stove. After some hot tea, lunch and a quick nap I decided to head out for more fishing, it was raining harder by this point but I was up for the challenge. Think I noticed a few random folks watching me from shore at one point, haha I’d probably be wondering wtf too! I caught a couple of fish and basically hung out on the paddle board and watched the sunset.
Friday morning it was even colder, I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag, but eventually did and got the fire going again. I still felt the chills from fishing in the rain the day before, so decided on a rest day from the water. I went for a walk in the hills instead and fished from the bridge throughout the day, I caught a few fish, kept one for dinner and spent the rest of my time digging through and randomly reading maps and books detailing the hiking trails among slot canyons on the Colorado Plateau including the greater Glen Canyon.
Saturday was much warmer or at least that’s how it felt for me. I went on a walk through the woods, did some yoga on a fallen log then checked in on the eagles nest but found no activity. I launched the paddle board for fishing in the early afternoon and didn’t start catching fish until late afternoon when the wind calmed down. I ended up with 3 keepers which translated into a warm full belly that night. Friends came back that evening and we enjoyed drinks and laughs into the early morning. Sunday I had slept in until mid morning, after brewing some coffee, I managed to make it outside with a friend we noticed a bald eagle flying with something in its talons, it was a fish! Grabbing the binoculars, we watched the eagle devour the fish while perched in a nearby tree. Soon two more bald eagles swooped in to a nearby tree, one of them was huge, much larger than the other two, almost the size of a golden eagle. This was neat, how often do you see an eagle devouring fresh food in your presence let alone seeing 3 eagles all together, today was going to be a special day. Heading back inside the cabin we made some curry for brunch before I headed out for more fishing. I had told my friends if they stuck around I would cook up some fish after I got back. Luckily I caught another 3 pike to fill my limit and filleted them up for dinner, while enjoying another beautiful sunset. I limited out 2 days in a row, the cold water and mild weather didn’t even phase me anymore.
Monday I was on my own again, realizing I hadn’t showered in a week and reluctant to bathe in the lake since I was so close to town I decided to make the drive to Fargo and take a warm shower get a few more groceries and head back out to the lake. The roundtrip took me 3 hours, as soon as I got into town and saw all the people I wanted to be right back out at the cabin where it was peaceful. I returned with enough time to go for a walk in the woods and put the paddle board in. I only caught one fish that afternoon, but I was already immersed in nature once again, and thoughts of civilization were fading. I read a good book on the demise of civilization not too long ago called End Game by Derrick Jensen, a 900 page rambling on the fight against civilization. Split into two books, I was unsure if I liked the message or not, he described civilization with such harsh realities it was tough to grasp at points. The more I reflect the problems of our current society to the book it makes sense, he was not off base at all, and as it turns out has a gift for writing, I remember a lot of the book even though I read it all in a week.
Tuesday was another nice day at the lake. I spent the morning reading through more books on the Colorado Plateau, went for a walk in the woods then headed out to fish again. This routine was not getting old at all. I caught my limit again and thus had plenty of fish to bring back and share with friends in the city. Wednesday a storm was starting to roll in with snow coming, this didn’t really bother me, but I had some volunteer painting to go finish so I packed up, cleaned the cabin, chopped some wood for whoever’s next and headed back to reality.