Ae
There are expected elements of disaster and or chaos when camping. Many of them are eliminated when renting a forest service cabin rather than using a tent, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.
When misery really isn’t 041217 AE 1 For the Capital City Weekly There are expected elements of disaster and or chaos when camping. Many of them are eliminated when renting a forest service cabin rather than using a tent, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

It's important to keep perspective and really enjoy moments with steelhead, like author Jeff Lund is doing here. Photo by Jeff Lund.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Story last updated at 4/11/2017 - 5:53 pm

When misery really isn’t

There are expected elements of disaster and or chaos when camping. Many of them are eliminated when renting a forest service cabin rather than using a tent, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

On one of those recent trips, it was raining, so the three of us humans were cozy in the cabin preparing dinner on a pair of dueling Jetboils. The two dogs tried to avoid the heat radiating from the small wood stove. Steelhead had been caught. We were dry. Leaky waders were drying. Life was good.

Between the exhaustion from the fishing and the heat, we were doomed to sleep shortly after the sun went down.

Around midnight, the first dog threw up. Once her mess was cleaned with half a container of wet wipes, we all settled back into dreaming about bigger and fussier steelhead. Then that unmistakable sound, this time from the other dog.

But disaster is totally relative.

No one wants to hear me seriously whine about dogs throwing up in the middle of the night on an overnighter at a cabin. It’s not serious. It’s not a big deal.

A broken leg is a big deal. Cancer is a big deal.

It’s a big deal to be able to be out there because there are people who would love to but can’t. There will be a day I can’t – a day I won’t be able to hike four miles to stand in a river with leaking waders, listen to two dogs throw up, then wake up the next morning and lose the biggest steelhead of the trip ten feet from my boots.

No one ever knows when that time will be. The rollercoaster crests, then falls.

A couple I know is going through it. The weight of life and the heaviness of existence is with them now. At times of weekend steelhead trips it all feels light and fluffy and fun. For them, recreation is a dream, a memory of a past life they’d like to rejoin or continue later when life permits.

Outdoor anecdotes are great, especially in times of severity. Silly stories of how things don’t go well can be a tonic because they are a reminder of how things can be. For those of us living the rise of the rollercoaster it should be our responsibility to live it well while we can, if not for our personal enjoyment, then for those who would make the most of the time we waste given their new perspective.

Someone would give a lot to have their leader break and a steelhead swim off as they reached for it. Someone else would love to be able to hike four miles to a cabin and have sore hamstrings or hip flexors.

And two in particular can’t wait for the day a dog getting sick is the worst thing that happens during a steelhead trip.

Jeff Lund teaches and writes in Ketchikan.