John Harrigan: Wizened outdoor writer succumbs to camp nostalgia
JOHN HARRIGAN | February 08. 2014 12:09AM
another subculture for experts to ponder
You get into camp,
a herculean effort, and it's time to go
(But wait: Those are one-column heads from my Death-March days on the front of section B in the print edition. Now, duh, I have a two-column format on Page A2):
Finding kindred spirits
in a grocery store aisle
It happens quite a lot, and this is not a complaint, but a pleasure. I was pushing my cart along at LaPerle's IGA in Colebrook when I encountered a couple of guys more or less wing-plowing down the aisle, raking stuff into their cart.
"You're the guy who writes the columns," one said. "Where's your camp?" I replied.
Turned out that they were holed up in a camp somewhat to the east, Aker's Pond I think, and had emerged, like woodchucks from a burrow blinking at the sunlight, to get some grub and no doubt other absolute essentials before heading back to camp.
"It takes you a couple of days to get into your camp skin," I said, a line I use to ascertain whether camp people are really camp people, and there was instant recognition. These guys knew all about that. "You barely get into your camp skin and it's time to leave," one said.
We stopped there in the aisle, visiting about this whole subject of camp people and the camp culture. Like a snake shedding its skin (probably an undesirable analogy, from the snake's point of view), when you go into camp for, say, a week or so, it takes you two days to shed your Other Life Skin and assume your Camp Skin, a whole other attitude and demeanor. And having achieved what you've worked so hard for, you don't even want to think about leaving.
This is a glacial-bowl pond with abundant and obscure springs where trout go to stay cool in July and August and rise to feed on never-ending insect hatches in the waning light of dusk - when you can barely see your fly - which is why aging casters, and that would be me, tie on a white fly, the only fly they can see enough to fish with when those last rays back-light the pond, when supper back at camp is all but forgotten for the die-hards who pursue fish rising all around, taunting them (a line from Monty Python) in a last feeding frenzy before morning.
I thought about all the effort it takes to get to camp in winter, when there is no groomed trail and so snowmobiles are out of the question on account of getting buried in deep snow, and when getting to camp means a snowshoe trek of between three and five miles, all uphill, dragging sledges, depending on who's logging where.