Planning My Escape

As glimpses of spring begin to creep in, I am once again reminded that we Midwesterners will not be forever trapped in a cold, dark stasis. This realization carries with it the joyous fact that outdoor activities are not far away and therefore planning must commence post-haste.

While winter forces extra time indoors on us, at least it is a time of furious sports activity; not many evenings pass without some type of contest involving one of my favorite teams. But once the championship trophies are handed out and I finish convincing myself that next year will be “their” year (insert any Minnesota team here), I will invariably find myself floating on a lake,snoring in a tent, or sweating on a trail as much as possible for the next six months.

I will watch and/or listen to my share of Twins games, but given the baseball season is a mind-numbing 162 games long, one can go weeks without watching and still have several lifetimes’ worth of spitting and cup-adjusting to take in. Not to mention that I have yet to watch a Twins game that was more awe-inspiring than any lake in the Boundary Waters.

Planning time is indeed upon us, and there are hard decisions to make. Do I want to make an early season trip for lake trout this year? How about waiting an extra month for walleye fishing to heat up? Will I be able to successfully herd the cats also known as my friends into agreeing on a set of dates? It can be a logistical nightmare.

But this nightmare will not cause me to lose a bit of sleep. I can’t get enough of poring over topographic maps and studying DNR lake reports. I pull my gear out of storage, inspecting each item and enjoying the carried over scents of pine, campfire, and earth still hanging around from last year’s exploits. I will hope everything is in working order, but I will shed no tears if I am “forced” to purchase a new toy; something undoubtedly more technologically advanced and therefore more impressive to my camping buddies.

It will be time to re-string the fishing reels with fresh line and to restock the tackle box. And thanks to this thing we call the internet, campsite cooking tips and backcountry gourmet recipes are at my fingertips. Soon I am even plotting out an entire week’s worth of meals to determine the optimum blend of cost, weight, and ease of preparation. No stone will be left unturned.

I will start wearing shorts and sandals when it is still 40 degrees outside, and will watch impatiently as the process of thawing and greening takes an excruciatingly long time to complete. I will spend a chilly April night in my tent with my dog Joe as my only companion because I so very badly need a camping fix. My friends will repeatedly remind me that they have families, jobs, and just lives in general and that not every weekend is optimal for them to spend 30 hours staring at a slip bobber. Some of them will even have the gall to suggest that their kids’ dental needs supersede our groups’ need for a new campstove and water filter. The nerve of these guys…

I love to watch sports. It allows me to scream and yell and feel like a genius as I tell everyone within earshot what this coach or that player is doing wrong. But when I head outside the screaming and yelling stops as I once again discover that in the wilderness nothing needs to be improved. Michael Jordan’s Bulls teams pale in comparison to the perfection of a wilderness sunset and Joe Mauer’s swing is a haphazard trainwreck compared to the seamless harmony of the northwoods ecosystem. All the kicking, catching, dunking, and checking can wait; the time has come to stop living vicariously and to start actually, you know, living.

I would say more, but I just heard about this great recipe for Lumberjack Linguine and I am already behind schedule in finalizing this year’s meal plan.

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