PEOPLE OF LESSER PLACES: Today is our 2 year blog-birthday and we’re celebrating the only way we know how: by choosing the best stories to appear on LP through the crucible of completely arbitrary selection in a blog listicle.
If you haven’t read these, READ THEM. If you already have, READ THEM AGAIN. When you get bored maybe READ THEM ONCE MORE FOR OLD TIMES SAKE and then SHARE THEM WITH YOUR FRIENDS. It’s really the least you can do since its our birthday and all.
Thanks, guys. Its been a hell of a ride.
To my Osprey Exos 38– I’m sorry. When I bought you, I thought you were the pack for me. I thought we would be together forever. But things never work out how we plan.
The Cascade is simple. Not simple for simplicity’s sake, but simple because when you fish tight places and when you teach new people simplicity lets you focus on what matters. For the experienced angler, this means getting the cast in between two low hanging branches. For the newbie, this means keeping the fly out of the weeds and on the water. Simple isn’t perfect for every situation but sometimes simple is necessary.
Here’s the problem though: that you can take one more step is not an indication that you should.
You are a woodchuck.
Then, we came to our first real challenge of the day– a stream crossing I had conveniently “forgotten” to tell Angie about. Immediately upon seeing the crossing Angie shot me a MOMMA-BEAR-GONNA-EAT-YOU-IF-YOU-HURT-MY-BABY look. I decided it would be best to cross the stream before she could protest.
This poses a problem for those that want to photograph hiking and backpacking. Hiking, you see, is very hard. Therefore, you don’t want to carry extra things while trying to do it. Further, you are hiking to get somewhere, and so your buddies won’t like standing around while you change lenses for the 800th time that day. What is needed, then, is a compromise.
No yak is an island.
Step 5: Quit while you’re ahead
The land is patient.
Who lived here? What kind of life did they have? And, where did they go?
Years later, I finally know the answers to these questions. Aravaipa Canyon was once home to a band of Apaches. They were lead by Eskiminzin, a strong but flexible leader who navigated the changes that befell his people with grace. They lived in wikiups along Aravaipa Creek, where they made a (mostly) peaceably living harvesting barely in exchange for protection from the army at nearby Camp Grant. They were brutally murdered, men, women, and children, by a rag tag group of American, Mexican, and Tohono O’odam civilians in what is rightly called a Massacre. Now we know why that place always smells of ghosts.
I dug myself out, a much colder and calmer man.
Or, put simply: catching fish is more fun because there is the threat of not catching fish.
Most modern reels, with their giant arbors and euro-trash angles, have always made me feel a little like Brian Nosackpo, wandering the sidelines, muttering the most important line in sports history: “C’mon, man. What we doin’ out here, man?” The Battenkill Disc looks enough like the reel I learned to fish on to make me nostalgic while still being shiny enough to be alluring, a very difficult balance indeed.
Jack is getting old enough to have opinions now. Too soon these opinions are going to shift from which sippy cup he wants to whether he wants to go hiking with his old man. And that’s okay. I just hope he finds an open and accepting community when he gets there. I just hope he can move and change and grow. I just hope he finds something that makes him happy. I just hope.
One million steps. That’s, three trips to the Grand Canyon, two old foes reconquered, many fish fished, and deer hunted, a couple first trips, some easy times, but more hard, and a son who turned from an infant to a toddler.
Butts, butts, every where. Over here, and over there. All the butts you could ever need, viewed from 180 different degrees.
I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.
All hunts must conflict with a holiday or family engagement (so sayth the Lord).
By the time we reached our destination we were exhausted, but our minds were spotless.
Getting better is going to require getting better at getting better. It will take practice and time, patience and learning. Getting better will make me better. A better hiker, a better fisherman, and probably a better person. Yet, as I schedule my billionth doctor’s appointment, as I get ready for another day of PT, all I want is mountains and all I hope for is to be outside again. I know I have to get better at getting better. I just don’t know how.
If we should meet at the Great Trailhead in the Sky,
Know that it’s because some other pants let me die.
We went to great places
But today is your day.
Thank you for everything,
Godspeed on your way.”
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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for Backpacker.com, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.