My buddy Troy sent a text message before an administrator’s meeting at his school district in California while I was loading my pack for an alpine deer hunt. By the way, it’s so much easier to pack for a hunt when you’re the meat hauler not the deer shooter.
Anyway, Troy was mourning the loss of summer. I did the same when I lived in California, but not anymore. I don’t dread the beginning of work or the coming of fall. I can fish and or hunt every day after school, weather permitting, and then there’s the weekend – a weekend not filled with a two-hour drive in traffic to get anywhere cool.
I know Troy and the rest of my buddies aren’t really jealous because they have great lives in California, but Alaska is Alaska. There are places you can toss a massive claw and snag fish legally only a short drive from small creeks where big trout take dry flies. There are mountains infested with blacktail deer, a deer that is on every North American deer hunter’s wish list. There are scenarios where you can do it all in one day, and camp, pretty much wherever you want without wilderness permits or whatever else you have to have to sleep outside in California’s wilds.
So yeah, it’s easy to take a deep breath and feel content when your summer guests are back in the chaos that is the Lower 48, but though you are here, you still have to live here. You know? Every season in Southeast Alaska provides opportunities, late summer likely the best. But yeah, that doesn’t mean we all do it, or that I will do it. You don’t live here to sit inside watching television but maybe with how bad the weather has been, that starts to happen. There is an element of misery that must be endured so that the brochure life is accurate, not just some sales job.
Just because the best of here provides a buffet of outdoor opportunities, that doesn’t mean you’re going to do them every day. The brochure is easy to recite, not as easy to live. I’ve been waiting for months to be able to hunt in the alpine, but there’s nothing about the weather this summer that makes me think I’ll get sunny, warm days like previous years when I rolled out of my tent and was taking care of a deer before the fog fully burned off. But that’s the way it is this year. I’m not only excited to help a buddy pack a deer off a mountain this weekend, but I’m also motivated to live the type of life my Lower 48 friends (not the Discovery Channel) think I live.
As southeast Alaskans, we have learned to tolerate chop when we kayak, rollers when we troll, fog when we’re trying to navigate the alpine, and of course, rain. As the fireweed blooms alert us to the dying of a summer that never really came, here’s to living an August that’s as advertised.