Back in the day, before boyfriends and children and a hectic life, my summers were filled with the excitement of backpacking with my Dad. Dad would plan the trip and Mom would buy whatever provisions Dad requested. We took freeze-dried foods, and powdered soup mixes. We had mac n cheese, granola bars, pancake mix, dehydrated eggs, powdered milk, dried hash browns, and well, you get the idea. Dad even built his own food dehydrator and dried veggies for stew. I know the stew had beef in it, but I don’t recall if he dehydrated it himself or if it was purchased dried. Of course, we hoped we would catch fish to supplement or replace what we were bringing. You can’t go with no food and just hope to catch fish because sometimes, there are NO fish! Literally. One of my favorite lakes had been completely fished out. One trip we were there, we watched airplanes fly over and drop fish into the lake to restock it. It would be awhile before those fish would be big enough for a meal!
Anyway, we made sure to have enough food and we spent the night before loading up our backpacks. Dad usually carried most of the weight when I was 12, but as I got older I carried 35 to 40 pounds. I carried my own sleeping bag, clothing, and other personal items, and some of the food items. We packed the trail maps, the compass, flashlights, a tent (sometimes, we just slept under the night sky), and of course, we needed plates, pots, pans, cups, and utensils. Bare minimum, mind you.
We usually chose lakes and streams that were off the beaten path because you know….people. We wanted to be away from people. (Who in their right mind wants some group of idiots camped right next to them?) So, after the drive to where we would leave the car, we were off to the trail that would lead us to several sites. There were streams, and creeks, and other lakes that would be filled with people who either rode in on horseback or made the horses carry in their camping gear. (Pfftt…) We would stop and rest a bit, maybe have something to eat and drink, then be on our way. It might take us a couple days to get to our final destination, so we sometimes spent the night along the way.
When we finally got to the lake, it was a relief to be able to drop that backpack and just relax! At this particular lake, and I don’t recall which one, we felt completely alone in the world! It was beautiful and peaceful! Dad strung our backpacks up on a rope and hoisted them up over a tall tree limb so the bears wouldn’t be able to get them during the night. (Bears get hungry, too!) We slept long and hard that first night, nursing our aches and pains prior to ducking into the tent for the night!
The next morning, while dad was making coffee and breakfast, I decided to go for a bit of a walk and I took my fishing pole with me. I found an awesome spot on a huge boulder at the edge of the lake. It overlooked some pretty deep water. I made sure not to look down or get too close to the edge! I cast my line out thinking maybe we could have some fish for breakfast! I could see the fish jumping so I was hoping for a bite! I reeled my line in a few times, but then the last cast out I got lucky! I caught something and that sucker was strong as hell! It had to be big, I thought. I fought that sucker, and I finally pulled him up on that boulder! The problem was that he was flipping and flopping all over the place and there was some brush just to the left on the boulder. That stupid trout got my fishing line all hung up in the brush. I was struggling to get it untangled when I heard Dad calling for me that breakfast was ready. I hollered back as loud as I could, “OK! Caught a fish! Need help!” Well, he didn’t hear me and kept hollering for me. I kept hollering back at him. I’m thinking, I hope he comes looking for me soon! Geez, I could really be in trouble!
He did finally come looking for me, and we got that fish and line untangled. We saved the fish for lunch if I recall. That trout was the biggest trout I had ever caught! It was 16″ from head to tail and was pretty hefty in weight too!
That was a proud moment for me. I EARNED that trout, after the fight it put me through! I think I was about 15 or 16 at the time. I’ll never forget that trip! Those were the good ol’ days and days that will never be forgotten. I’m so thankful to my Dad for sharing his love of backpacking and nature with me.