Go big or stay home
By JEFF LUND
June 20, 2014
So when he came up to Alaska for a week, I knew it wouldn’t be about talking. It would be about action.
He had to wake up at 4 a.m. to catch his flight out of Sacramento, so I figured he needed something to keep him from falling asleep. I picked him up from the airport and we immediately went up One Duck, a 1,100 foot climb in just over an mile. He’s a fellow half marathon runner, so we were up and down in 1/3 of the recommended time.
Once back to my house we wrapped five dozen shrimp if bacon, slathered it in BBQ sauce, and hit golf balls at a life ring 30 yards from shore until eleven.
The next morning we woke up early and hiked up one of the tallest mountains on the island - a great hunting spot in August. He initially asked if he should wear shorts because he’s used to the hikes in Yosemite and I wore a pair up One Duck. I laughed.
A hundred yards into following trail tape, crashing through brush and holding onto small trees for balance, he understood why it was important to keep exposed skin to a minimum despite copious sweating.
Looking straight across at the island’s highest peaks, and down at the snow fields we traversed, he took a deep breath nodded his head.
“FaceTime your wife,” I suggested.
He did. He turned in circles, showing his 10-year old daughter his current spot on earth. Sometimes being connected isn’t such a bad thing.
We had two afternoon options once we got off the mountain. We could go to the river, catch a Dolly Varden big enough to cook for lunch, or head to Coffman Cove for a bacon cheese burger. Though cooking a riverside fish meal would have been the more poetic of the two choices, it’s probably not surprising that the burgers and curly fries won. We felt no guilt. We had just worked over our bodies on the hike, so replenishing the burned calories with empty ones coated in grease was okay. Later though, with only the take-out in our stomachs, the bodies did demand something a little healthier. Cifbars and spinach.
The next morning my buddy Abe took us out for king salmon. It had been beautiful and sunny, but the weather had turned. Chris grew up fishing for sturgeon and striper fishing in the rivers that dump into the San Francisco Bay, but using down-riggers for king salmon in Alaska put him back at square one. As a craver of knowledge and new fishing stories, he kept breakfast down though he was severely impacted by the nasty weather and caught his first limit of ocean-fresh king salmon. Abe and I bagged ours too and of course took a few hero shots though the biggest fish was maybe 25 pounds.
We arrived at the dock, cleaned the fish, and returned home. In just two full days, we had had, two full days. We recounted the first half of the trip and I think we both sensed it was great to be making stories rather than telling them.
We all get in the habit of living off what we did, ten, fifteen years ago. In the decade Chris and I had known each other we had exchanged great adventures, but finally everything was fresh and new. Living, not remembering.
The next morning we’d catch and cook a Dolly Varden for lunch. Keep things really fresh.
Jeff Lund ©2014
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, & River fishing guide (Tranquil Charters) living in Klawock, Alaska