With each August comes a burning end to our group's summer in the form of an annual camping trip. While most of our trips are rooted in exploration and increasingly minimalist in nature, this trip is a blowout of sorts. This annual trip has historically been an inclusive weekend for all to partake in, minimalist and glamper alike. With nearly 20 folks slated to jam in on a peaceful stream-side for 3 days, Dustin and I sought to inject a bit of sanity and serenity into what would surely become mayhem by Sunday.
Thus, we strapped what little we could on the old Hondas and dabbled in both the annual shenanigans, as well as the incredible solitude of winding mountain roads and streams. Dustin was able to cut loose a few days early and cruised up to meet his Pops at the Tail of the Dragon for its famous curves, as well as some solo camping along the way to clear his head before a pending ACL surgery. I saddled up a few days later, pushing the old CB further than I have before, throttling up through twisties I'd only ever daydreamed about in my 4-wheel box.
Unlike most trips, this one received minimal diligence in the way of stream research or camp planning. With so many heads on the plans and individual pursuits of what folks wanted out of it, I laid down my map and pencil. I knew where I would wind up, just not how long itíd take or what direction I'd travel.
I lwashed a cheap fiberglass fly rod to my pack, hoping to spot fishy water aboard the moto, and I was rewarded for venturing off the well worn path, as we often are. In traveling a few unplanned forest service roads, I found myself ankle deep in a bitter cold stream, hooking up with and releasing wild trout coaxed to take a self-tied dry fly. Therapy, I'd call it.
The cruise continued up hazy, tree lined pavement around mountain lakes and the occasional gold-panning racket to the top of Winding Stairs road. There sits Queens Lake, a reservoir suited for swimming, fishing, and camping that was home to the annual trip a few years running. No reservations, one suitable site, and another family trip meant a new spot this year. It was news I was pleased to hear, having itched to post the group up on a nearby stream, off a dirt road with little traffic.
After hammock stringing, the goal was of course, beer. In a situation such as ours on motorcycles, storage was scarce. Sure, we could ask someone to buy us beer, but then we wouldnít enjoy the 2 wheel adventure to the register. Saddlebags on a CB? Believe it. Dustinís Pops bestowed upon him two well traveled, leather saddle bags for his journey, perfectly designed to individually handle a 12 pack, 3 packs of ramen, and 3 additional cans of local, craft beer. Enough for night 1 at least.
With morning came fishing with Scootie. Well, camp coffee, then fishing. Hazy fog, cold water, a mountain view, and a fly rod can do wonders to settle a restless, would be explorer. With the tug of a healthy and wild Brown Trout, my addiction was temporarily satisfied. See, I've been working on the idea of ìenoughî and what that means to me, but Iíve yet to successfully apply to to fly fishing. Itís always the next fish and the one thatís missed that get me. That dilemma keeps me returning to places like this, so the cycle can't be that bad, right? Rainbows and Browns graced the end of my line more than I deserved, and a return to camp and its inhabitants was in order. On return, Scootie made up for less morning success, reeling in a respectable fish right from the campsite banks.
The days proceeding involved much of the same, with fewer fish, a bit less cruising, and many more laughs from the saddle of a camp chair. A bit of swimming, a little more fishing, and an impromptu 3 man/one bike session made up the next few days. Guitars, brews, and smiles rounded out the remaining evenings.
The last day's packing usually goes a little faster, with home calling louder than perfect tarp folds. With a stop for food at River's End with the crew and a quick hike to Wesser Falls, everyone knows itís time to leave, but shuffles their feet nonetheless. Homeward it was, so Dustin and I hopped on the old bikes one more time for the 4 hour moto return. What a rad 4 hours. Back roads, a few rain drops, and a train through some amazing corners with other Sunday riders gave me a postcard motorcycle experience. It was enough...exactly what I was hoping for.