Monday, November 13, 2017
I Want a Boat
It is sleeting outside this morning as I stay at home to take care of personal business. I guess this entry is now personal business.
I want a boat.
That is, I want the experience of traveling down rivers on a carefree current stopping at at the odd riffle or tongue of gravel to catch trout inaccessible to mere wading anglers.
I want to float the Two Hearted and the Fox weaving around the sweepers and past the odd rock or narrow run guarded by thick tag alders and briers. I want to draw two inches of water on the Black standing to cast at nice cut-banks and holes dug by spring currents.
Watermaster seems great. A few pack canoes leap out at me.
I prefer the inflatable for stability. I prefer a hard-structure craft for timber and snags. Nothing is perfect.
I'll dump a canoe at the worst time. Same for a kayak.These rigid vessels are best used where recovery and support are at hand. They're not good for solo runs where the risk is a key piece of gear floating down the river from "inadvertent bear roll."
Inflatables suffer punctures. I can patch anything. I'm a fan of marine epoxy. A meter roll of patch cloth covers many many ills. Still, critical gear floating a mile downstream requires my grossly inadequate spot-and-find technique to be pressed into service.
It is all for naught.
A boat requires a spotter run and that means other humans. There is nothing I can depend upon less than other humans.
Spotters are easy to come by where the aluminum hatch is heavy. Great!
That isn't water I want to be fishing.
Back woods, thirty miles into the forest, a slide down a bridge abutment: that's water I want to travel. It is not water supported by the local livery, fly shop, or even party store. I'm in the boonies and a boat is not a help.
I've thought of the bicycle routine - chain a bike at the run's end and peddle back to the vehicle at the start. Some do it. Has potential merit. Still considering the option. It isn't like a twelve mile hike isn't out of the pale for me, either. Wouldn't hurt one bit to put on a pair of boots and leg it out. Time, effort. Those things I might find.
The fleeting problem with a boat is that the effort of using it is not equaled by the enjoyment I'd have.
I need a boat for a dozen trips a decade. Not really making much sense here. Of course, without the boat my dream of fishing the Fox next year is almost zero.
I want. That word usually leads to some sort of evil in my world. It wears on the ursine psyche.
An Old Town 119 is hard to beat for the price. Pack canoe. Heavy - but then cheap costs extra effort. Always has.
There are many other great pack canoes out there but they start at three times the price. I'd rather a plane ticket to a destination than a better canoe stored all summer on sawhorses under my spruce trees (and out of sight of frau bear!).
I haven't solved the mystery of remote adventure water yet. It is difficult to access for a reason. That's the reward: difficult. I know what the Holy Waters on the Au Sable becomes when June rolls around. It can be nearly combat fishing.
Three hours more in the SUV and the crowd is gone. The water isn't as well known. The fish are not as pressured. The canoes are few. The wilderness is wilderness except for a few seasonal grouse and deer hunters.
I have a few months to decide. Yes: you'd think there is the option of a guide service. Those fellows cover the known water around here: Manistee, Au Sable, Pere Marquette, the Pine, the Rifle.
Backwoods do-it-yourself is indeed backwoods do-it-yourself. Can't complain about the options if I pick "undeveloped" and "isolated" options for adventure.
Two-thirds of the trip's reward is figuring out how to make it work.
Hello Craigslist! Somebody has to have a pack canoe to trade for Christmas money. That new Cascapedia can wait a couple months.