My Summer Vacation – Part 1 Big Hook Wilderness Camps

I am finally home and starting to get settled. It is quite hard to find a rhythm after being gone so long but I will get there. I had high hopes of actually blogging while on vacation but that didn’t happen so I did the next best thing and used my flying time to blog on the airplanes. I am going to copy and paste my words here and take them for what they were when they were written. I will follow up tomorrow with the second part. Enjoy.

I’m sitting on the plane to Jackson Hole, WY. The first part my trek is over and it was amazing. Dad and I drove from CO to Red Lake, Onterio which is about a 24 hour haul. We stopped in some really interesting towns in the middle of nowhere, drove past more crops than I could count and had a largely uneventful drive which is a good thing. My favorite parts were the fields of sunflowers.

I have a bit of a romanticized view of Canada. If it weren’t for the healthcare and winters I would probably consider moving there. I could certainly handle all the hockey. From Red Lake, we flew on a small prop (9 passengers) into Sandy Lake. We took a quick shuttle across the island to our float plane (3 passengers) and up to Big Hook. I know I’ve said plenty of times how much I’ve changed over the past 14 months, but this part of the trip made it crystal clear to me. I have been afraid of heights my whole life. I wouldn’t go on a prop for pretty much anything. Before cancer, I would not have gone on this trip because of the planes required to get there. I thought that was a fear that I would be facing by going on this trip. But I didn’t face that fear. It was gone. Like I had never been afraid in the first place. Like it wasn’t even in me. Even when we flew home through low fog that we really didn’t have any business flying through, I wasn’t afraid. I obviously know that I have completely changed, but it’s bizarre to actually feel that difference.

We had our own cabin at camp and with only two of us, our own rooms. We had a boat that we used every day, staple foods in the cabin along with 100 pounds per person to fly in so we had ample supplies. We got up every morning around 7am. Somehow the foam mattresses in the cabin were the most amazingly comfortable thing I’ve slept on since these tissue expanders were installed. I was able to sleep on my sides and not be in pain which was amazing. We made breakfast of pancakes or french toast with eggs, bacon or sausage. We packed our lunches and hit the water. Central Lake is big, with several portages so we had lots of places to explore and the fishing was great. I had lures called the Evelyn Special (bright pink with silver glitter or silver metal flake to fisherman who apparently can’t say glitter) and the Fletcher Special (blue with blue metal flake – which we all know is actually glitter). The biggest fish I caught were a 22″ Walleye and a 41″ Northern Pike. I brought them both in on jigs and we don’t use barbs so apparently bringing that Northern in was somewhat of a miracle. I had about 20 jigs taken with their big teeth cutting the line so apparently I hooked him just right. Fishing was a blast and the days went by quickly. Before we knew it, it would be time to head back to camp, sit on our screened in porch, have a beer and make dinner. I don’t think anyone has enough of those days in their lives.

The entire area is beautiful. The wildlife is amazing too. We saw a bear, fresh wolf tracks, a mama moose and her baby, and a lynx on our trip. Also too many bald eagles to count. The birds would feed right across from camp where we took the fish guts and kitchen scraps and one night while sitting on the porch, the eagles got so excited about their feast that two of them flew together, locked feet and tumbled towards the water, breaking apart just at the last minute to fly over it. The sights which are commonplace there are seriously a marvel to behold.

The family that runs the camp is amazing too. Their son is close to my age so it was nice to have another young person around (if I can still call myself young?). They are all in the throws of wedding planning and it was really nice for me to listen to that. It gave me a feeling of simpler things to worry about than what I’ve been dealing with. In a good way. Happy concerns if you will. Mostly it made me think of how life would be like running a camp like that. Being in the woods for months at a time, getting away from everything. I’m sure it wouldn’t be heaven if I was in the middle of it, but it certainly looks like it would be close from here. I can’t wait until the kids are old enough to bring them along on experiences like this. I hope they will enjoy them as much as I do. I can’t wait to go back.

On the trip I also have had some other things to think about. My surgeon’s office called and they have scheduled my next surgery for September 19th. This means that I have to decide on what implants I want which really seems like a big decision to just leave up to me. My dilemma is that I basically have to choose between the shaped implant that has been newly approved by the FDA, which will apparently look better when I have my clothes off. Or the standard implant which will look better when I have clothes on. I ultimately made the decision based on our car logic. Eric and I have a rule that we never buy the first model year car because things always go wrong and they need time to work out the kinks. So, I decided to go with the standard implant based on if I won’t buy a brand new model car, I probably shouldn’t buy a brand new model body part. I thought the decision was made, but now apparently I have to choose the “profile” for the implant so I’m just going to talk to my doctor when I get home. I don’t really have anything to base a choice on and it’s not really an einie-meanie kind of choice. Implants last about 10 years so whatever I choose will be somewhat temporary, but if I’m going to live with it for that long I at least want to be sure I’m happy with my choice.

I’m pretty close to Jackson Hole now. I don’t even know how I’m going to find people when I get there, but I assume the airport can’t be too big. We are flying a 757 in which is bigger than I expected though. I am in the very last row, but don’t have anyone next to me on what appears to be a completely full flight so that’s nice. Here’s to continuing the adventure!

P.S. Here are all the pictures!

There were fields upon fields of sunflowers, which are about the happiest thing on the planet.

We found some hotels that gave a new meaning to the middle of nowhere. Here was the sign in one of our rooms. Probably not a shocker that we didn’t use the shower.

When we got close to Red Lake, ON the roads were just beautiful.

And these signs were everywhere. Beware of the angry moose!

Here is the “big” plane.

It wasn’t super roomy.

But it did have a killer view.

This is the pilot gassing up our float plane. He was young. Like, super young.

Again, not super roomy. But I did get to ride shotgun.

Camp! I took this from the boat but I like that you can see all the cabins as well as the windmills.

This is a closer shot of Nathan’s plane as well as a windmill. Between the windmills and solar power, we were told they didn’t have to use diesel all season! Go green energy!

I found a very happy surprise at camp in Shadow. She is an awesome dog and an amazing jumper!

The first full day we were out, we caught the biggest fish. Here are dad and myself, we each caught huge Northern Pike – mine was 41″ and dad’s was 42″.

We also saw all kinds of wildlife. I didn’t get a shot of the bear, but I did find this tiny frog on a portage as well as some huge, fresh wolf tracks.

One of the small islands had wreckage from a plane that crashed around the time that I was born.

The water was beautiful – and that is not the end of the lake in the picture, we rode right through there.

The portages had boats which made travel super easy (I’m used to having to carry a canoe with us)

But sometimes you have to get a little wet to convince the boat to come off the dock.

It’s worth it though because there are so many fish, sometimes you have a big fish try to eat your smaller fish as you reel it in.

It was an amazing week and we had an amazing pilot flying us out. Here was our view over the summit. I think I was the only one on the plane that wasn’t freaked out, but we made it safe and sound and I can’t wait to get back!

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2 Responses to My Summer Vacation – Part 1 Big Hook Wilderness Camps

  1. Tina Kiel says:

    So gyou had have a much needed vacation and adventure. It’s like a wonderful trip and good to spend time with your dad I’m sure. What is the name of the camp? I’d like to visit there someday? Tina Kiel

  2. Tracy Schmidt says:

    What an amazing adventure! That is a biiiig fish! Northerns are hard to land… strong work! My dad and I went to LaRonge, Saskatchewan when I was 12 and fished for Northerns. You have mine beat by 5″! I,m glad to see you out there enjoying family and all that life has to offer.

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