Whether I like it or not, sometimes it makes sense to stick to the plan. Three days up north taught me a little and in one aspect left me wondering. I'll start with the wondering part first.
I'm a day dreamer. Always have been, always will be. And I do it well. For sure reverie has its drawbacks. Though what I go through these days ain't nothin' nothing like being lost in the ozone of the 1960s and '70s. Those had long term effects, or so I've been told. What I'm saying is that the best mental pictures don't necessarily include all the pitfalls. Or any of them for that matter. That's a good thing. You see too many tiger pits in your path and you'll probably head another direction.
But they also get a person to miss out on a bucket of the joys. It's the unexpected joys that make the stumbling blocks along the way mostly worthwhile. Had I known I was gonna break some ribs back in 2000, me and Al might have changed our plans and missed out on a great trip. Hell, that's really not true at all. We'd have gone regardless. Being an idiot is a joy in itself.
Sometime ago I'd mentioned that satellite photos aren't perfect. They're really exact maps but aren't three dimensional. And don't show exactly how eroded the two tracks are. That's more or less how day dreams are. It's gonna be this way and it more or less is. But something might be missed along the way.
So the plan on the third day was to revisit the lake that'd provided the big pike last Spring. The idea being that the pike we'd caught had to eat something. Perch, sunnies or crappies. To find out I only loaded panfish gear, slip bobber rig and a panfish sized fly rod. Had I brought a pike or bass rod the temptation would have been too great. The idea of catching big fish is a powerful temptation. And I am weak.
Waking up on Thursday morning I wasn't sure which way the day would take me. For sure fishing was on the agenda. But exactly where hadn't been filled in as yet. After breakfast I did the usual, which means at least an hour's worth of aerobic exercise. The gravel roads were dry so the bike came out, chain lubed and tire pressure brought up. Ten miles of rolling hills took me by six small lakes. It's a fine ride. Scenic and strenuous enough for a sixty-five year old like me. Not a puff of wind on the water. Just like the photos on the calendars. Yard wide white pines are shoulder side my route in a half dozen places. They never tire. And drag me along from site to site.
Back at the cabin, over coffee and oatmeal-raisin cookies, I debated smallmouth bass and panfish. Guilt and the plan won out and that's how I found myself back in the state forest puttering along over sand and rock. The rock, she's gettin' serious on the two tracks. Walking pace on all the hills. Nary a sidelong glance is allowed. Found myself alone at the end of the drive and beginning of the portage.
That's where it dawned on me my reverie had missed a point. The last time on the hike into the lake there were four of us. Two to each canoe and the carry could be done on one trip over. Not so this time. Oops. One trip over with the gear. One trip back. And one over with the canoe. Mile and a half. Each way. No big deal I guess but my spring chicken days have turned into late fall stumble alongs. Yeah, she went smoothly enough but I knew the piper would come in the morning to collect his dues.
Then there was the beyond the civilized web factor. I didn't have a cell phone with me. Mea culpa. Wouldn't have mattered a lot anyway as I was too far from any relay towers to order a pizza should the mood strike me. Up 'til a couple of months ago I didn't one of those intrusive buggers. Didn't want one. But it's been decided by the powers that be that I've reached the point where a cell phone would help the authorities find my cold, dead body. Or at least the parts of it not yet eaten by the coyotes and crows.
Got to admit that not having it with me made me feel more alone. And not in the good way it usually does. But there was water up ahead and the feeling was forgotten in less than ten paces.
This is ATV country. The thought struck me both times I'd been here that it would be possible to tow a small boat in behind one of the little four wheelers. From what I've seen that idea hasn't struck anyone else.
The grass track leaving the trail showed I wasn't the only one up the trail since last June. That was fine with me. Not having to wade through waist deep grass is on my list of happy things. Even though tick season is mostly over, deer tick season doesn't end 'till snow covers the ground. Heavy grass provides cover for them. A toppled big tooth aspen blocked the path mid-way. Bye-bye ATVs.
So, did I find any panfish? Obviously the answer should have been yes. But it wasn't. I threw poppers and dry flies. Jig and bobber with power tubes and tiny plastic, yummy, number one, lucky maggots. How could they resist? Well, they could if they weren't there. Nearly two hours on the water with not a bite or nibble. Constantly scanning the calm surface for any sign of feeding. All I saw was an army of water bugs. They were everywhere as I paddled the entire shoreline, working it shallow and deep.
Was I disappointed? No. Didn't even consider myself as having been skunked. If they're there and you don't catch 'em, then your skunked. If they ain't there, well, guess you can say you were merely fact gathering. Which I was. And I had a good time, a really good time. And a stiff neck and sore shoulder from the portage yoke. Homemade of course and stiff as a board. That's both a joke and the truth.