I Wish

Aron Oscar Fish 5
“Grandpa, can we have another adventure tomorrow?”

I wish we could have a pause button on time. Took the boys fishing again without the success of the former fishing trip. It was still an adventure. more of a snake and spider adventure from the bank. The boys left several hooks and bobbers in the nearby trees. Some in trees that were not nearby. A nearby bank fisherman decided he had work to do at home about three casts later from the boys. Sorry man but not stifling the adventure.

“Grandpa, how old are you?” “How long will you live?” Me: “Well, I have taken to celebrating my birthday at least three times a year so I could live to be 150 or more” Grandson: “I don’t think it works that way  Grandpa!”  Me: “I Wish”

Grandson: “Grandpa, I wish you could live here forever” Me: “I will, but not here” Sometimes I want to pause time and just talk

What conversations do you hope for?

Gary

 

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Posted in abundant life, Adventure story, Build Faith, devotional thoughts, eternal, Faith, fishing adventure, Gary Fultz Blog, outdoor adventure, purpose of life, relationship building, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bounty: A Tribute to Dad and Mom

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I belong and am part of a family of “Bounty”

Everyone belongs and everyone contributes. It’s a way of life and seems in our DNA. Let me explain by way of our september adventures to visit some of the family back home. I have pictures to back it up!

My uncle knowing that I work for a truck bed cover manufacturer, ordered a cover so I could deliver it and save a bit of money. He also needed a recommendation for who could do an installation. So, yes, we volunteer each other. If we can we do. If we cannot they understand. It’s that simple. No keeping track of who has done more for the other.

We picked apples and crab apples at Dads. Corn (lot of corn), onions, peppers, squash and potatoes till the car sagged from one of the brothers farms. Meanwhile a sister in law trimmed our little dogs nails in the “pet grooming shop”

Somehow family seemed involved in everything while we who live the furthest away seem out of sync a bit…More in the sense that we are missing out on a lot of things with each other.

One brother is remodeling a bathroom for our handicapped daughter at Dad’s place. Two brothers are collaborating on building the cabinets for our sons new house. Dad often does parts runs for one brothers farm. Family gets really good deals on a half or whole beef from one farm. An Aunt gave me some trout so I brought it over to smoke it (Don’t worry dad has a smoker) and we put in some lamb-pork sausage from the farm as well. We had a couple of hours this morning before traveling the 5 hours to our house so Dad and I  picked up a meal of pike from a little lake casting off shore. Fresh pike filleted boneless is a great meal. It was shared by a brother who is cutting up the blown down trees on his saw mill on dads land. I could keep going on and on about how we work together and help one another but here are some pictures.

                  7 siblings and Dad, and we are Family. Miss you mom.

4 things about Mom and Dad; 1) They were lovers of God, each other, us kids and our neighbors (a lot of others)

2) They had depth of character.  They did what needed to be done when it was needed to get done (Not when they had time).

3) They worked earlier, later and harder than most people. Their kids now do as well.

4) They spent extra time talking and thinking life issues through. Their goals and how to get there were important. Their relationship skills were honed well and they were together in tackling all that life brought upon them.

Becoming a bountiful family is hard work. So is a Bountiful garden, a fruit bearing apple tree, a great herd of beef, straight and true boards off the sawmill, a remodeled bathroom and even a successful fishing trip. As Dad would say, “everything bountiful takes a lot of time, work  and intentionality”.

Hey guys we left some apples ready in the freezer for making apple crisp!

Gary

Signiture eml

Posted in abundant life, accomplishment, discipline, dreamer, Faith, GaryFultz Blog, intentional, perspective, purpose in life, quality of life, relationship building, Uncategorized, victorious living, Work Hard | 4 Comments

The Thrill of Frill

frill fril/ noun (Google “Frill”)
1. A strip of gathered or pleated material sewn by one side onto a garment or larger           piece of material as a decorative edging or ornament
2. an unnecessary extra feature or embellishment.
“it was just a comfortable apartment with no frills”
  1. synonyms: ostentationornamentationdecorationembellishment, fanciness, fuss, chi-chi, gildingexcess

We love Frills. Frill is a spice for our everyday lives. Frill is unordinary, extraordinary, exciting, over the top and yes we get it. Well, maybe we get it.

Nature has Frills!

How about a sunset with frills? how about just showing the frill?
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  1. How about a frill on a plant? Raining eml
    I walked around our front yard and picked some of our mostly wild plants for my wife. Yes we have a place full of frills.

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Hey, do we come with frills?

Smile, say a kind word to the cashier and use their name (notice the name tag). strike up friendly conversation while standing in a long line. In the workplace: Be pleasant. Be more than worth your pay. encourage your boss (not to be confused with buttering them up…be genuine with no ulterior motives), pick up after yourself (even in the fast food restroom), be on time and there every day (even when the fish are biting…this is me biting knuckles).

Frills are intentional

I mean it takes discipline, forethought and creativity for frills to become a part of us. Character. We all know someone like that. I believe our creator loves frills. I see them everywhere and try to capture frill moments in nature with the camera.

What are your favorite Frills you see in others? There is a Thrill to Frill!

Hey I’m trying out signatures for my pictures….so far it’s

Signiture eml

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, frills are ok.

Posted in abundant life, accomplishment, adventure, Gary Fultz Blog, God in Nature, intentional, Nature, perspective, quality of life, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Root of Beauty

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I would venture that in the midst of life’s chaos I miss many a life lesson. Nothing would sit still for the camera on this cold, miserable, windy and misty day. Almost nothing but a nice little red bird on a stout oak branch. Beauty sitting still in the midst of chaos. I had but a few seconds to enjoy, focus a lens and wrap my mind around this tiny speck of color, warmth, peace and vibrance. The fragility of the moment was not lost. May we all find a stable place to perch as we watch the sun set.

A short time later…

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Memorial eve sunset from dads yard

Beauty is everywhere should one care to look. Looking however seems to be rare unless it’s pasted on the sky. Sometimes depth of beauty is is measured by the depth of who we are. Can anyone imagine not having the capacity to enjoy beauty? Admit it; sometimes we are not in a place to see or enjoy beauty. Other times we see beauty everywhere.

My thoughts: Beauty, a great argument for there being a creator. It’s so much bigger than just happening along.

Next Day: Then there is food. Beauty probably measured by taste buds.

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Beauty, one of life’s best spices. Best shared with everyone around!

On this Memorial weekend I am still seeing sunsets and dwelling on those who have had their last sunset. I can only imagine mom’s last sunset as she walked into her last sonrise.

Miss you mom. By for now

Gary

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Sunsets I have known

sunset-on-malberg-emlI love sunsets. I occasionally capture a slice of a sunset from our front yard or the BWCA or from whatever vantage point available at the time…enjoyfirey-sunset-2-22-17-happy-birthday-tracy-eml

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Sunset panarama email
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>Goin fishn...confessions by Gary Fultz
Sorry, how on earth did that BWCA fishing picture get in there??

hope you enjoyed them.

Some day we will each have our own sunset..My prayer: Get to know our creator and enjoy his creativity forever. Amen

Gary

Posted in Nature and Inner Peace, quality of life, solitude, Sunset pictures, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A New Quest

snake
“You kids go outside and pet the snake” They did!Bear Poquette Lake

“Go outside, maybe you will see a bear or a deer” They did!

Deer email

Bear tracks by the shed, little buck outside the living room window.  Not afraid of the kids.


I have often reflected on the nature of kids. Oh to crave fearless adventure in developing my latest great idea. To go outside my shrinking comfort zone and get to know a whole new group of great people. To actually start writing a book. To finish writing the next song. To quit working so much, be a little more frugal and take the family on a few more great adventures before my adventure gene shrinks any more. Maybe we either grow or shrink?

So…I propose a new quest. I just have to choose wisely! 

Corn and Sirloin email

Meanwhile…I’m thinking this new quest thing through while grilling corn and some sirloin

Gary

 

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The Beholden

sunset 06 17 16 email
Counter to popular opinion it’s there weather (intended) anyone validates the event or not. If a tree falls in the forest…Yes it made a sound. Yes I caught a big fish; quite a few actually. Maybe the bigger questions: “Do we look?” Where does importance lie? With us?

A whole lot of people saw this sunset but only my wife and I watched this from our front screen porch. Perspective is important but the beholden probably more.

Just a thought as I post a bunch of pictures…Maybe we long to be a part of something much bigger than us. It’s July 4, I am an American. A rather proud one at that.

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Flag and sunset

I suppose the sun will set for America someday. I know it will set for each of us and set the next day when we are gone. Could it be the beholden, as magnificent as our sense of beauty allows, is merely a reminder. A sign that we should live, touch, feel, and behave with each moment in the context of Eternity. Fishing Tackle email

My relationship with our Creator draws me in many common ways. From Grandiose wonder to depths of intimacy.   Strange to some I guess.

Meanwhile I am organizing the tackle to take someone fishing again…all with eternity in mind! If my boat could communicate…From laughter to heart-ache, the stories and themes between fish easily overlap the right now—Eternity. No wasting sunsets please!

Oscar Fish email

Liz crappie email
 

Sunset COFA Fish Camp

Gary

 

Posted in abundant life, GaryFultz Blog, most imortant relationship, purpose of life, spiritual concepts | 4 Comments

Great Fishing From a BWCA Canoe

Fishing is always good, every once in a while so is the catching                                                                                                (So Says Alvin)

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catching was good off the island

Lunch

22′ down on a pencil jig, middle of a clear lake

Our first day trip from camp. Windy, rainy and cold on a fair-sized lake. We caught occasional Pike and a couple of small-mouth bass as we made our way around the lake. Each bay, point and any odd structure received a couple of casts. Spinners, jigs, spoons, and minnow lures all seemed to catch fish. We were looking for a good underwater shelf in 5-15 feet of water near deep water for a bigger school of fish to feed. North east wind not so good but fishing from a canoe in a remote wilderness setting. Great!

 

After 61 trips to the BWCAW I can say this is a common scenario. Below are some of my personal tips on wilderness canoe fishing.

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Find the fish

Drifting down the shoreline towards a bay Alvin found a nice Pike as well as a flat where the fish could be. A few casts later and we began to pick up walleye. ranging from 16″-24″ walleye we proceeded to pick up a couple of meals worth for our group of nine. It’s best to keep fish that when filleted they will fit in the pan. I was reminded that with the invention of the knife any fish fillet will fit in the pan!

BWCA WalleyeWe caught enough fish on this trip to supply a Friday night all you can eat VFW fish fry in a small town. Plenty of walleye and Northern Pike with a smattering of Blue Gill, yellow Perch,Small-mouth and Large-mouth bass. Some hooked outside the mouth which usually means they were too ambitious for their own good. By law they must be released and we are happy to oblige.

Catch the fish

TrollingSpoons (1)We have some favorite lures for BWCA fishing from a canoe in different situations. 1) Flutter spoons. I assemble my own and buy in bulk. I cannot say enough about a 4″lightweight narrow spoon that flutters all over the place on the slow sink. We catch every species on this hook, especially on shore lines and over weed beds where fish need some time to dart out and take it before it hits the weeds. A small jig of the rod and the spoon rises quickly to flutter slowly down again. deadly. We often put a big single hook on it for ease of releasing fish. A mouth spreader and long nose pliers help save fish who swallow this lure before hook set, especially the large fish to release. To date the largest lake trout in our party was caught on a flutter spoon 36 1/2″ that’s a 20 lb fish released with no camera handy. Care to go 15 portages to catch another one like it? they are available fellow wilderness canoe anglers.

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The portage trails can be very hard

Fish Supper e-mail

The guys worked a shelf  between an island and a bay where the wind was blowing in for some eaters. The next day they did it again on nice walleye on another lake.

jig 2) Jigs, I use these a lot. Bring bare jig heads of various sizes and colors and start trying tail combinations. In the BWCA bring some white Gulp twister tails and in this case some large Chartreuse double tails on a quarter oz jig head rigged with a spinner…who would have thought. If you want to lug leaches and minnows into the wilderness, go for it. I have brought in some tiny hooks and caught large Shiner minnows from the lake. 

Fire Tiger Huskey jerk3) Minnow lures. Deadly in throwing behind a slow paddled canoe or casting the shore line or weed beds. Floating, sinking, suspended, deep runners, 2″-5″ lures. I bring in four of these type lures and hope I do not lose them. Expensive.

spinner4) Spinners. For shallow rivers, shallow rocky areas, and near the reeds I use these lures mostly for Bass and Walleye. Pike love to swallow them and even the large bluegill will have a whack at them. This last trip I caught 4 species of fish on one spinner…Oh what fun it is! I also saved some large pike with my jaw spreader and long nose pliers as they literally tried to swallow this hook. 

Zara Spook5) Top water plugs.  When the water is perfectly calm, I use this lure quite successfully. Monster Small-mouth bass seem to come from the other side of the lake to munch on a large Zara Spook. A great camp site lure for sure. If you really want a laugh put it over some Northern Pike. These fish are extremely over-zealous bad shots when it comes to top-water lures. they swirl and miss, explode three feet out of the water and jump over it, skid across the water towards the lure from four feet away. They are not graceful when they miss. Sometimes I can hear their thoughts “Uh-Oh I’m out of the water, what do I do?” then they stiffen up like a rubber fish and belly flop, only to try it again. One five pounder finally connected the 10th time. By the way, take your time. cast, sit, small twitch, sit, twitch, twitch back and forth a little (called walking the dog), sit, twitch…you got it. let it go under a split second before crossing his eyes or it’s a miss.

6) Slip Bobber. I hear they work well. I am not a bobber fisherman. I bring one in my pack and have never used it, yet. 

Blue Fox Pixie Spoon7) Lake Trout lures. Heavy Spoons, vertical jigging and casting lures like a pencil jig are pike, walleye and Lake trout getters in deeper and or crystal clear water. Try bringing a Blue Fox Pixie Spoon for lake trout because they work. When you paddle across a lake trout lake, throw out a large Fire Tiger Rapala behind the canoe. I have caught up to six lake trout going across one lake with this lure and caught several trout this way on several lakes. 

>Goin fishn...confessions by Gary Fultz

Blue Fox Pixie Spoon Trout

 

46 inch pike

Yep, Fluttering Spoon. 46″ Pike and yes this was quite a long time ago!

 

Garys Bass BWCA 2014

Small-Mouth Bass from camp site on a Zara Spook floater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Finally, eat the fish

1) Fillet the fish boneless including taking the Y bones out of northern pike. Bring some fish mix, season it the way you want it, and fry in a pool of cooking oil. make the oil hot enough to spatter in the oil or you end up with everything mushy and oil-soaked fish batter. Do not get too hot or it makes the oil turn rather unhealthy (actually somewhat poisonous).

2) Boil Boneless fillets in salt water (stay with me here) Bass is the best this way. After boiling for roughly 5-7 minutes (medium fillets) you can either add the meat to a good beans and rice dish or put it on the plate drained and hot. have some melted butter with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Ideally use the Miners mix XXX-Garlic as it has everything in it. 

3) bacon Wrap your fillets, put them in tin foil with some other seasonings and put in the fire or on top of the grate to turn now and then till done. Shoo away the bear or eat fast as they can smell this five miles away.

4) Put fish fillets in a basket and roast over the fire. A nice olive oil and a bunch of seasoning will make a tasty meal. 

5) Just throw the fish back. If not… Poke the whole fish with a stick, knock off the skin and scales and eat fish as it gets done in layers…It’s nasty but I say this for my friends who forgot all the necessary fixings and had to resort to a last-ditch effort of eating before throwing all the fish back.

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Day trip lunch. We could see our breath. Rain. Good times

Good fishing, Thank the Good Lord for your catch, I hope this was a helpful Blog…I would love your comments as well. …Gary

Miners Mix

This will fire you up: Plain salt, XXX-Garlic. Ghost Pepper, and  BBQ Rub on the rocks…

 

Posted in best Pike hooks., Boundary Waters, Fishing, fishing adventure, Gary Fultz Blog, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Fire Cooking Outdoors

BWCA Sunset  gun lake

Look, the sun! First eve on a remote rainy wilderness day

Seven men, 140+ BWCA Trips, Two newcomers, a food pack and some tips

Nine of us just spent a fist full of days in the BWCA Wilderness . Wind, rain and cold weather ganged up on our mostly veteran group. A hardy lot we seemed to be as we traveled lake-portage-lake by canoe, fished, camped, built fires, cooked and ate well. very well. we waddled a bit on the portages out with smiles on our faces.

Stew meat and potatoes email

10 miles and several lakes back in the wilderness after 3 days of rain…food good!

Outdoor cooking at it’s best is an art, a skill to learn and hone. So, plan a trip outdoors, bring some food and cook it. how hard can it be?

Fire: A most necessary ingredient

It’s all about the fire. Get the fire right and you will possibly eliminate all kinds of embarrassments. Common scenarios include

1) Build a good fire, start cooking and the fire suddenly dies even though the wood is all there. Clue: keep putting small sticks under the larger wood and graduate to large enough wood to have a sustainable coal base. Around the fire email

2) A well meaning someone adds wood and the fire and it becomes an inferno. Charred food soon to be. Clue: have a good stash of small sticks handy to feed the fire and threaten to whack  anyone who wants to put another log under the pan of food (do I need a violence disclaimer here?) Quick get the log off the fire or ruin the pan the food and reputation.

3) It’s windy and gusty and it blows the smoke and flame everywhere. The cook gets the smoke no matter which side you choose. Clue: A mature fire has way less smoke. Again, a good coal base is hot and small sticks make the flame just right. A little smoke flavor in the food is a good thing.

BWCA june 07pork steaks on the grill

4) You cannot find dry wood. Clues: Old rotten logs often have knots that will pull out of the log and they are full of pitch. shave with a knife and light on fire (usually smoky but make great coals and burn hot). Old stumps from small trees can be kicked out of the ground with some of the roots attached. the roots burn well. shave them if needed. Cut some larger wood and split into little pieces. The inside will be dry. Make shavings with a knife for starting the fire.

Perfect fire

Notice the rocks for a wind break, the smaller wood ready to control the heat, the larger logs drying out and ready to be split.  Start with boiling water, grab a cup of coffee (smoked coffee anyone?) and get the fish fry going. DSC03928

 

 

 

No high flame on the fish fry or you will have a flaming pan to deal with. Have a lake close by in the wilderness!

     Equipment

       We used a couple of Pots and two sizes of skillets. for nine people a 14″ deep pan works well for most meals. Bring a small pan for fish, brown sugar syrup, and threatening any unannounced bear (rocks work better). We also bring a camping stove and fuel to cook under the tarp in torrential rains, for shore lunches and no fire zones. A cook stove is handy and fast. Don’t forget the spatulas and serving spoons. They are a pain to whittle out while the others fish. Don’t forget a whittling knife. By the way, soap the outside of the pot or pan so the black soot from the fire washes off. just don’t forget and dip it in the lake that way. keep the lake soap free.Storie telling time email

    Food Tips

     I precooked and froze most of the meat we used and brought in a small soft side cooler. All meals were well thought out before wandering around the grocery store. I tend to buy 3 times as much if my meals are not well planned. Each meal is taken out of the box or bag and the proper amount put into a zip lock type bag with directions. I can hand it to anyone in camp  and they can follow directions and cook the meal (Really, spread the cooking work around). Some (not me) plan well enough to make all the meals and then dehydrate them…just add water over the fire. Make use of rice, potato, pasta, and precooked beans (don’t carry in water logged food). Use burrito type soft shells instead of bread. dehydrate peppers, mushrooms and onions if possible. Throw them in stews and add cheese and great seasonings. Experiment, you are outdoors

    Spices

    YA, the guys liked the ghost pepper. It was a Miners Mix spice trip. Visit the site and buy some as it’s good stuff. for recipes, inspiration and quite a few tips on outdoor cooking over the pit (cousin to cooking over the fire grate) visit the pit masters at Patrons of the pit  who put several of us onto the art of seasonings. Rave reviews from this last BWCA trip. Miners Mix

Um, careful with the ghost pepper! 

Gary

Posted in adventure, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness photos, Build a fire, BWCAW, Outdoor Cooking, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My Wilderness Stories Mostly True (4)

 

Malberg rapids email Danger, Beware of Unaware

Hey it’s a nice sunny day in the great outdoors. What could possibly go wrong?

BWCA Fire email

Below are a fraction of my actual BWCAW stories encountered from my 60 wilderness trips.

Story #1)How are you doing?” I asked an oncoming paddler. “I was h-h-h-hit by l-lightning a c-c-c-couple nights ago and it m-m-m–messed up my n-n-n-neurons a b-bit”. Quick thinker that I am…”Wow, sorry” and we passed happily on, us out into the big lake with gathering clouds and he back toward the entry point and probably a doctor.

* Lightning strikes the ground unusually often in the BWCAW area because of the high iron and mineral content in the rock and soil. Lie on a good ground pad while sleeping and stay dry in the night storms. No paddling around the lakes in electrical storms.Wolf in the Picture BWCA cropped email

  Story #2) “ Stu (name changed) fell down and he cannot walk, he just falls down again.” This 18 year old was afraid I would not let him go on this BWCA trip with a badly sprained ankle so he didn’t tell me. Now he had fallen on a very steep portage trail (stair-step rocks). Slitting his pant leg I found that his knee had landed on a sharp rock and he was cut to the bone. Sliding down the trail on his leg with a canoe on top of him the rock had taken his muscle off the leg bone half-way to his ankle. The ground in debris didn’t allow it to bleed much. The skin had stretched down and then pulled partially back up toward the knee with a pocket full of nature.

Do you believe that everything is a coincidence? No one in that group does. It just so happened that a shaggy young man with a dog was at the bottom of the trail. He was a paramedic trainer at a University coming out of his three week solo trip. His car was an hour away parked in the brush at a new entry point off a logging road. We on the other hand were 17 miles and several portages from our entry point. He and I lugged out Stu to his car and drove him to be patched up (four hours of surgery). Mr. Wolf (I still remember his last name) took me back in the dark to a sorrowful group of teens I had left in the wilderness alone.

*Since that accident I have always had knowledgeable co-leaders. I also have beefed up the first aid kit. I find myself subconsciously monitoring the physical and mental condition of each team member throughout each and every trip.

On a side note: Stu went to the same University and tried to look up Mr. Wolf. He could not find anyone who knew someone by that name in that department. I’m sure there are logical explanations and a whole lot of illogical ones.

Steep Rocks

Story #3) My Co-leader did not tell me he was struggling with Diabetes.

First day: Full sun with a gentle breeze. I pushed the group of macho guys hard to get 12 portages and 17 miles into a great fishing lake. Bad sunburn for those too cocky to use sunscreen. My Co-worker was hurting and badly burned on the side of the leg. The sun’s rays had glanced off the inside of the bright silver aluminum canoe all day and cooked his leg. By day four he cannot walk with a pack and he now tells me he has diabetes and it was infected. I give the little man studs a map and tell them where we are and which lake to meet me on by the evening of the next day. I did all the paddling and portaging while angry at both of us for being so unaware of the danger to potentially all of us. I found the kids the next day after crossing big water, a long portage and paddling around a 3 mile lake for a red shirt hanging high to mark their spot. Seems they barely beat me there as they had to learn how to read a map and chase down other groups for directions. Now they were just kids, glad to see me as well as ready for more fishing and cooking lessons.

Mild waters email

Story #4) “We lost one” said a sorrowful man I met lake-side of the portage trail. “He jumped in the back of the canoe with no paddle or life jacket in the river above the falls. The front end lifted up and he went into the falls and drowned”.

I was heart-broken for this close knit group of guys. I know the spot. It’s very dangerous because you need to push off the portage into the back water rather than the current. The problem is that it does not look dangerous. If you swim for it you better be good. The current is unusually flat (unseen) and fast. You end up in a tumbled log jam. The back water is not dangerous at all. It’s safe.

*Look twice in any unknown river situation. Study the currents. Don’t run rapids before looking it over (people do all the time…it’s a popular way to either die or come close). Do I really have to say “Wear your life jacket!!!” also do not get in a canoe without a paddle!

Story #5) Grab a cup of coffee or tea and find a nice easy chair. This long story cannot be told in short form.


7” of rain in 24 hours is life threateningly dangerous, anywhere. The day after those rains I lead a small group of teens and two youth leaders into the BWCA wilderness. We met a canoe going home with a wild story. Seems they were sleeping well in the rain until a flash flood came through their camp site and washed their tent (and occupants) into the lake. Fortunately the lake was shallow quite a ways out from shore (which is unusual in that area) and they were able to get out of the tent safely. On this beautiful sunny day who would have thought we would be put into a life threatening situation.

River , no danger here email

No danger here, Right?

From Birch Lake to Knife lake is a series of 5 portages up the river into Knife Lake (where Knife Lake Dorothy spent most of her life). I had cheated most of those portages a few times as the water is fast running but shallow. Dorothy would usually take one look at our wet clothes and say “I see you cheated the portages”.  One can walk up the shallow river dragging the canoe much of the way (except for the sudden holes you fall in chin deep if you are tall). 7” of rain had now caused the portages to be under water by 4-5 feet with the rushing water foaming through all the surrounding forest. The water was so fast we could not pull ourselves through the portage by pushing and pulling off the trees. The big red ants had claimed a lot of the smaller trees and seemed miffed over their situation. After quite a bit of expressed ouches and a few painful screams we chose the woods. We portaged by handing our canoes and packs up and over a small cliff and bush-whacked through the woods to the forth portage. It was a lot of work but much safer. The last portage took us to a small pond below a now huge waterfall into a small pond where we had to cut across to portage #5 located on the Canadian side of the river. Each side of the pond had a good back-eddy going with a short but mighty surge of rushing, turbulent and extremely fast water. Our plan was to canoe up the back eddy and run with the rapids at an angle to cross into the back eddy on the other side. All life Jackets strapped on, all fishing rods secured to the canoe and away we went. I took lead and crossed safely, Canoe #2 and canoe #3 crossed well and then canoe #4 almost crossed safely but tipped as they were entering the back eddy. With life jackets on it was an easy but wet job to get everyone and everything to shore. The back eddy would almost grab and thrust you towards shore and back out again (whirlpool style).

We knew that two other groups were behind us and we watched a three-some (dad and two strapping college sons) get in their canoe. I yelled at them over the rushing water falls and rapids to strap on their life jackets and take the back eddy up to the falls to run the rapids at an angle. I think the adrenaline started flowing in my veins when the dad waved me off and yelled back “we know what we’re doing” while pushing off to head straight across the fast water.

Picture this: A foaming water fall coming into a pond with a 30 yard section through the middle of the pond being rolling fast water with 2-3 foot boiling waves of turbulent water. At the end of the pond the river drops away to a chute with higher waves and even faster water which dashes up against a huge boulder with some uprooted trees stuck against it. The only safe zone is the back eddies on each side. The woods on the sides of the chute were 4-5 feet deep in heavy enough current so the trees were bending and some uprooting. This was beyond dangerous and the dad was unaware. Their canoe rolled as soon as they hit the boiling water.

The boys were good swimmers and made it to some small trees on our side after hitting the first part of the chute. The dad couldn’t swim and found himself on a floating but sinking pack on the back eddy on the other side of the river from us. He was gradually drifting toward the chute. I’m guessing it took only a few seconds for him to realize he was going to die as his kids hung on to bent over trees on the edge of the chute calling out to him. He began saying his good-byes. There were tons of intense emotions in such a short span. This kind of experience changed us, at least for a while.

We do not know how we will react in life threatening situations. One of my staff sat on a rock crying as she had tipped her canoe and knew she was helpless. I heard the other staff pick up his canoe and mutter “the poor guy” and walked over the portage. I threw a paddle at the strongest teen and we had this conversation: “you are going to be a Ranger right?”  “Yep!”  “Now’s a good time to start, get in the canoe!” “You’re crazy!!” We ran the rapids to catch the dad and made the wild ride safely but the dad had given up. As we pulled up beside him I had to tell him we were going to let him hang on while we would drag him to shore. I watched him seem to almost coil as if to spring at the canoe and realized this big man would tip us quickly so I raised my paddle to knock him out if he did. He understood the gesture, came to his senses and just grabbed with one hand.

I had never tried paddling a canoe with someone hanging on to the edge. The current was dragging the canoe toward the edge of the chute faster than we could paddle to the closest shore. We pleaded with the rescued man to let go of his pack and he would not. At just the right time the 3rd group traveling this border river came through and formed a small human chain in the churning backwaters to us with an extended canoe paddle to my future “Ranger” teen in the front of the canoe. Grasping the canoe paddle we were pulled in by the group as the canoe swung around with our man within five feet of the ripples on the edge of the chute. Our adrenaline rush was complete as we once again paddled up the back eddy and crossed one more time to safety. The other highly competent group promised to oversee the rescued man. They rescued his canoe, emptied the water from his pack, made him unbuckle the life jackets from his canoe seats and reunited him with his sons in sad but fair shape.

Later on I figured out why the other group was so willing to take over. I was told I was not nice to the man after we rescued him. Because of the danger he had put us through, I guess I was rather loud and did some name-calling as well as informing him of his IQ and other little known facts not normally discussed in public. I had the shakes all that night from adrenaline loss. By morning I was perfectly fine until I saw a 500 pound bear (an unusually huge monster) thinking he was hidden behind a little spruce tree at 30 yards. I felt the familiar flow in my veins…I was invincible again. My bear stories are down the future blog road.

BWCA 2011 June 1 106_edited

So play it safe!

*Avoid putting a canoe in rivers like I described. The only safe method of transport in this situation was a hot air balloon. Period.

*Avoid Idiots.

Side note: I still have dreams vivid enough for adrenaline. One week after coming home I was at a camp. The guys all told me I was on top of my sleeping bag loudly rescuing people in a raging river at three AM. Funny guys, very funny; I would have remembered that.

Conclusion: It has taken me years to understand why some people have called me “wild man”. Sometimes I have been the idiot taking risks with myself and the group I was leading. Some-day I may write about nearly drowning myself and a friend. I could write many more stories where I did not come out as the hero or even a good guy. I would like to say I’m all better now but clarity of sight seems to get better with distance.

My take on the Easter Story: I realize some of my experiences may be a strong argument for there being a God, Guardian Angels, a purpose to the universe and other eternal discussions. Personally, with all my experiences and stories to tell, I have not changed nearly as immensely as the disciples of Jesus Christ who ran away and left Christ to die alone. After seeing the Jesus Christ who didn’t stay dead they became martyrs for their faith. Even those events do not account for the drastic change in what quickly became thousands of lives willing to die for This Jesus. It takes an act of God to change us inwardly. The account as recorded is true. I for one believe and am changed because of Jesus. That does not mean I don’t do dumb stuff now and then. So in all of life and in the spiritual realm…Beware of unaware.

GARY


 

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