When was the last time you thought of something ridiculous and then actually pulled it off? It’s that time of the year when we reflect about our assortment of adventures from the previous year, and then try to conjure up stuff to beat those experiences or challenge ourselves even more. Some of us build bucket lists while others write goals. Sometimes, we win with that goal, and sometimes, we don’t. I’m not really a resolutions type of person, but I must have new experiences. At the end of the year, I must be able to celebrate with myself about new things that I tried, be them wild, personal, risky, challenging…….if we are living, we are hopefully trying to have richer and richer experiences.
A couple of summers ago, my friend and I decided to try our luck fishing on the Copper River. While it wouldn’t be my first time fishing, it would be my first time on this river, and according to the many stories I had heard about the Copper, it was suppose to be a total challenge compared to fishing in the southcentral areas of Alaska. This is because the current is stronger, and the logistics require way more energy, that is if you don’t want to use a boat. Sometimes, boats are overrated.
Clearly, according to us, biking to the fishing spots would be the best alternate answer. What does that mean? The Copper River flows through the very small town of Chitina, and during heavy fish runs, this area gets raided with locals wanting to dipnet for fish. Most of the people either go by boat or hire one to take them to a decent spot so that they can fish from the boat. You can also hire a water taxi to take you to the other side of the river, which has better spots for fishing from the shore as you don’t have to deal with climbing down the cliffs of the alternate side. It is also easier to find stability when dealing with the current. If you don’t want to use a boat, that typically means that you’re going to be fishing from the tougher side. In order to get to fishing spots, you have to take a very narrow dirt “road” that busts through the woods along side the river. Most people use four wheelers to travel down this road.
I’m an avid biker in the summer, but I’ve never done any touring with gear and I wasn’t going to go purchase bike panniers for something this ridiculous. I was picturing your typical pothole nightmare that you find in small towns without paved roads with some added mud and rocks, but I didn’t really consider that balancing would be an issue, despite the fact that we were going to be wearing packs as well as carrying a very long dipnet. Add this to the fact that once we found a spot, we would be fishing way differently than I’d ever done. This would be what I call my idiocy mixed with my sense of adventure because I’ve been stupid and adventurous before, as I’m sure many of you have; it’s where some of our most profound growth stems.
From the picture to the left, you can see the net, and while it doesn’t look like much, it’s top-heavy, and cannot be broken down. Needless to say, I took out several trees, rammed my knees into the ground, and earned a big cherry on my elbow. We basically looked like visitors who did not only know how to fish there, but also had no clue how to bike either. Even so, we were laughing the entire time.
After several stops and falls, we scouted out a good spot. In order to get to the water, we had to basically climb down this rocky cliff. Fortunately, we found a relatively flat area at the bottom of our selection so it looked like we wouldn’t need to tie ourselves to a tree to prevent from falling in the river. Even so, when I put my net in that water for the first time, I realized that my arms were going to get tired a lot faster because you have to hold the net in place with the current. If you’re fishing in a slow current, it requires very little muscle work, but my arms were speaking to me. It was a total novelty for me to actually get a workout while fishing, but we added biking and now the currents on our arms. The work our arms were doing didn’t really pay off in quantity of fish though. We caught 4. That’s right, 4 fish. Had we really considered what we would have done if we had caught more?
Despite the small success rate, I was sitting on the edge of the Copper River, the sun was beaming down onto the rushing water and my face, there was a slight breeze, I was hanging with one of my best buddies, and we were fishing! Though our method of getting there was probably one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever done, it ended up being way more adventurous than I thought. It took fishing to a whole new level and maybe we didn’t end up feeding a village, but sometimes, the experience is all you need. We weren’t elated about our fish amount, but we were having too much fun to care.
I don’t know if I’ll beat that this year, at least when it comes to ground sports, but every time I attempt an idiocy/adventure mixture, I have no regrets and when I speak to people about the crazy things they’ve done, they are glowing. When we can laugh at ourselves while doing something totally different, and still walk away from it feeling a little more in tuned with what we are all about, it should for sure go on the adventure list for that year.
I’m enjoying reading all of the bloggers write about the new year and how he or she is going to tackle it-with their bucket lists or goals. I hope that we can all measure our success for the year, not just by the results, but also by the process we choose to get there. In that alone is a great story, adventure, or lesson.