Monday, March 31, 2008

A Camp Is Made Of Wood - Part 2

Another Use For A Sled

With the land in place and cleared, the process of building was set to begin. We got the materials from all over. Studs from a Christmas tree stand (Thanks to the Tree Man), pine siding we bought, windows from old construction sites. Whatever we could find, from wherever we could find it. Of course now we had to get it there. That took a lot of twists and turns, and about two years. Here is one twist.

Robert's truck was a 1985 Chevy 3/4 ton diesel. It looked as bad as it sounds. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't four wheel drive, and all of us smart guys thought what better way to get the wood there than in this truck, in the winter, sliding the wood across the ice to save carrying time. Actually, it was a good idea for the most part. At least until we left to go home. You see, none of us are known for knowing when to stop. It is January and we haul wood until 8:00 PM, and pitch black. Robert leads the parade out, with Steven and me behind in Stevens truck. The old Chevy catches some ice and the wheels spin. Robert revs, they spin harder. He revs more, and then we hear the snap. That is the sound of a broken rear axle. One problem. We are 10 kms back a logging road. In the winter. On a hill. We have about a kilometer to go to have any prayer of getting a tow. We hook the old Chevy up to Stevens truck and try to tow it that 1 km. Move 10 feet, and the axle starts to come out of the sleeve. In the back of Stevens truck was a wooden sled. In the front, an idea.

Picture this. A 3/4 ton Chevy truck. On the rear passenger wheel, a 6 foot wooden sled lashed to the tire with rope, with the idea being the tire would slide easily up the hill as we towed the truck. It worked, sort of. We made it up the hill. The sled wasn't so lucky. It is now 11:00 pm. 10 kms back a logging road in the middle of nowhere. A drive to a payphone and we find a tow truck driver who is brave (fool) enough to come and get us. I got home at 2:30 am. Remarkably, i am still married.

That old 3/4 ton Chevy was ugly, crude, rough and on that night earned itself a $1500 rear end job after a $350 tow. It also holds a special place in the lore of the camp. The sled was the first of many sacrifices, that also included a chain saw, a snowmobile, an 8 foot punt and more hand tools than i could count. The 1985 Chevy is gone, and sadly, so is Robert. We couldn't have done it without either of them.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Camp Is Made Of Wood,

And Wood Doesn't Grow On Trees - Part 1

Part 1 In The Story Of A Backwoods Haven Built On Equal Parts Of Passion And Stupidity

Like a lot of things, it started innocently enough. Four of us on another one of our day trips. Tired, wet, cold, it's early May and we are still exploring for that elusive place where the big fish are as plentiful as the small. It's 1994 and we all agree we should find a piece of land to build a camp on. A warm, dry resting place. After a lot of walking through the woods, and driving logging roads, we find it. We spend the year fishing the area. The results are more than we even imagined. Before the year is out, the land is ours, and the work is ready to begin.

On the final weekend of the 1995 Mayfly season, the four of us are camped out near one of the lakes. Sleeping in tents, we are still wet and cold. We cleared some wood from our land, for what will be the resting place for our camp. On a Coleman stove we have some canned beans, and an old kettle, hanging from a branch, over our fire. With a full plate of warm food, and a cup of hot tea, we talk about where everything will go, what it will be like to have a warm place to call a backwoods home. We are all very proud of ourselves. We will get this thing done, sooner rather than later, and it will be our own private refuge.

While I am drinking my tea, a thought came rushing to me. I drove 90 minutes to get to a dirt road. I then drove 12 KM on that dirt logging road to get to a place to park. I then walked 15 minutes, behind a lake, over a hardwood hill, loaded down with gear, through the wet path. Twice. Now i am sitting here, in the middle of trees, a rock as my cushion, with a view of a lake. There isn't a stick of lumber here yet. Not a window, a door, a stove, a bed, a mattress, nothing.

Four of us sit there, quietly. We drink our tea. I can't speak for the other three, but we all admitted later to having a similar thought that day. "A camp is made of wood, and wood doesn't grow on trees." Everything that would be needed for this camp would get here the way that kettle did, in our hands. Not one of us would want to ruin the moment, but the events of the next couple of years would be the basis of our backwoods legend. To this day, the lucky few who have been to our getaway, always seem to ask the same first question. "What the hell were you guys thinking?" I first asked that question about 12 years ago. I still don't have an answer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Quest For The Lurker Continues...........

For those who love to fly fish the backwoods lakes, whether it is here in Nova Scotia or somewhere else in the world, the quest is what we strive to meet. There's amazing scenery, sure. There's quiet, peace, nature, maybe even bonding and friendship. Sure, sure, sure. For most of us though, there is mostly the hope of the ever elusive lurker. The following is from "The Dictionary Of Angling Fools":
Lurker (n) - The biggest Brook Trout you will ever catch, until you catch one bigger
So every year we head east, up the Nova Scotia shoreline, and look for Lurkers. We have a favorite spot (which shall remain nameless), where this quest continues. Every year we slide into our canoes at about 6:00 pm, where the hunt begins. We paddle like fools, collecting flies, for the most part, going nowhere. By 7:30, the flies are afloat off of a shoal, and we wait. Sometimes, we wait for nothing. Other times, the water moves. It's a small sip, followed by a wide wake. Not alarming if you see it. Then for thirty minutes or so, we become stealth bombers. Dropping our flies silently in the middle of the action, not disturbing the trout. Then it's the take, the fight, the landing, and the bragging.

This goes on every year. Two years ago, i caught what i thought was the Lurker. 19.5 inches, 3 and 3/4 pounds. A brook trout in Nova Scotia that should make any angler proud, and i was until i realized that i hadn't actually caught the Lurker. The thing about the Lurker is that there is another one out there. It's longer and heavier and has deeper colors and fights harder than this one.

So every year, usually in early May, we meet at our camp, in a secret location, continuing the search for the ever elusive Lurker. Someday i am convinced i will catch it. I will be a hero to my wife and kids, to my fellow anglers. Until then, the search continues.

Oh yeah, my wife read me a quote tonight. "There is a fine line between fishing, and standing on the shoreline like an idiot." Joke's on her, i fish out of a canoe.

7 days until the search resumes...........