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|The Search for Solitude (standard:non fiction, 1029 words)|
|Author: M. David Meyer||Added: Nov 08 2003||Views/Reads: 1724/0||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A day of solo canoeing in the Alaskan wilderness.|
Today is a beautiful spring day in Alaska with temperatures hovering near 60 degrees and an absence of clouds. I am taking full advantage of this and embarking on a solo canoe trip around Trail Lake in scenic Moose Pass. The lake is as calm as glass and the paddling couldn't be easier as I head due north from my drop in point of Trail Lake Lodge. As I begin to get comfortable in the red, two seat canoe a floatplane starts up behind me and taxis into the lake also heading north. The white super cub turns around, throttles up, and smoothly lifts off the water directly overhead. I watch in awe as water drips off the floats of the plane and splatters onto the canoe. By the time I realize what a great picture opportunity this is, the plane is flying around the nearest mountain and into the distance. I quickly unpack my camera from my daypack and neatly hang it around my neck for the next unexpected sight. I continue north to reach a point jutting out from the rocky shore, and adjust into a northeast direction along the shoreline. I spot a deeply charred log from a once roaring campfire and decide to take a break and get my fishing line wet. Once ashore, I store my water bottles in the frigid waters of the lake and begin to turn rocks over out of curiosity. Actually, I am searching for that ever-elusive boulder of gold, but find a very narrow, 3-inch long worm instead. I put the worm onto a small #10 egg hook and attach two split shots to the line 18 inches from the bait. Much too small of a worm and I believe I am too close to shore to have any type of effect on a fish. Not one bite. After an hour of casting this tiny worm out with no results, I pack up the canoe and prepare for the continuation of my journey. After taking a few pictures of the northern mountains reflecting perfectly onto the lake, I board the canoe once again to fulfill an exploration itch deep within me. I continue north from here after spotting the lakes northern shores, keeping my eyes focused on the lush slopes of the mountains in search of moose. I pass several small streams with crystal clear and bitter cold water spilling into the silted waters of the lake. Once again I am ready for a chance to get out of the canoe and view the gorgeous scenery surrounding me. I beach the boat and climb the ever so slight elevation change to reach the tracks of the Alaska Railroad. Just on the opposite side of the tracks, I see several ducks swimming in a landlocked pond. As I watch them, I hear a great rumbling coming from the north end of the tracks. Not wanting to get run over by the powerful train, I quickly bound down the lakeshore and wait patiently with my camera. The noise grows closer and my anticipation of a close encounter with the train heightens. But to my disappointment, it is merely a maintenance truck equipped to run on the tracks. I give a friendly wave to the driver and he politely waves back, not knowing the intense letdown I am feeling. A drink of water and another layer of clothing removed, I am now ready to circle around this end of the lake and begin my adventure back to the lodge. For the first stretch of my return I have the benefit of a slight current created by Trail creek that feeds into the lake. I am now sensing a change in the weather pattern as the wind begins to pick up out of the south. Now attempting to head directly into the wind, I get out into the open and unprotected waters of the lake. The wind is steadily growing stiffer, and it is all I can do to keep the boat heading into the waves. One too many paddle strokes on the port side of the boat and I am sent spinning 180 degrees with the chance of capsizing in the white capped waves. This is when I truly thanked the Lord for the smarts to don a lifejacket before leaving the dock. This vest gives me the confidence to continue, but not until I safely tie my gear to the inside of the boat. I realize that flipping this boat is the last thing I want to do in this deep and icy water, but it is completely possible under these conditions. I continue on with four-foot waves crashing onto and against the boat. I cross the lake to reach the southwest shoreline where the waves are slightly smaller but not out of danger yet. I am sent spinning three more times, each time losing ground while trying to get the boat back on track. My arms are now burning with strain, but I am not giving up. I can see the lodge now, and have a target to shoot for and the desire to get back safely. Two floatplanes are now lined up and landing onto the water while I struggle to make it the last mile and a half. A brief thought occurs to me. Could I lasso a mooring line around the floats of one of these planes and let them tow me back? Not only impractical, but I don't have enough line for this task, even if I were MacGyver. I travel the last mile and a half in just over an hour. This is not any type of speed record, but I make a safe return and store the canoe. As I take one last gaze across the now very choppy and vicious lake, I realize something. I have had a real "Alaskan experience" and managed to click off a roll of film of some truly breathtaking views. The time alone today was much needed, but the scenery that I witnessed was definitely worth sharing. The entire trip took me 8 hours, and despite the trouble getting back, I would do it again in a heartbeat! Tweet
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