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The Search for Solitude (standard:non fiction, 1029 words)
Author: M. David MeyerAdded: Nov 08 2003Views/Reads: 1692/0Story 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!


   


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