I left on a Sunday afternoon. It was a somewhat short drive, an hour and a half at most. Yea, I already knew I’d be calling in Monday morning before I even left Friday afternoon. I don’t know what sparked it. Summer temperatures in early fall putting the brakes on the changing leaves? Maybe. The fact that when people asked me lately how I was doing that I was lying and saying good? Probably a little something to do with it. Peer pressure? At almost forty-two years old I’d like to say no, I’ve outgrown it. And let’s be honest. When friends start putting the idea in your head and it sounds good, maybe it doesn’t really feel like peer pressure. That kind of pressure after all is resistance against what you’re feeling, and I wasn’t feeling any resistance to the idea at all.
It’s awfully easy to throw a cooler and a little propane stove in the Trail Marker, a couple fly rod tubes, a canoe on the roof, and just drive. It’s a no brainer to take the turn off the pavement and take a dirt road until you find that perfect camp site. And as the fire burns itself out after dark it’s fairly spectacular in such a simple way to lie on the bed staring up through the tempered glass skylight at thousands of stars in the sky. Listening to a black bear huffing, crunching across the fallen leaves covering the ground as it passes by in the pitch dark of the wild is enough to make me realize just how small I am out here, and how far from home I can get in a short amount of time.
I catch smallmouth after smallmouth, during the hottest point of the day on the back side of an island on the lake, when everyone told me it would be pointless to fish until later in the evening with such unseasonable temperatures and the sun so high. They aren’t big, and it doesn’t matter. While I’m sweating out here on the lake, others are sweating at work.
I begin to think I should just always keep the Trail Marker hooked up. With such a small and light weight package, spur of the moment “un-plugging” seems like the only card I need up my sleeve for those days I decide I’ve had enough. I should pack a bunch of maps in it. Permanently. So I can just hook up and leave. Then maybe pull over and decide where to go on the way there.