Written by: Annalise Parks
The raindrops pelt my jacket as we cruse across the giant lake, dark clouds overhead. I am facing the back of the boat, looking at my dad who’s steering our 15-foot fishing boat, packed from top to bottom with all of our gear we needed for the week. Dad has his hood up over his hat, and his jacket zipped up as far as it could go, trying to stay as warm and dry as possible. I sit on my chair freezing in the cold rain, thinking about having to set up camp in this terrible weather.
After about an hour, we finally reach our bay on the south eastern part of Sparkling Lake where we set up came. I turn to my right and see the river draining into the lake twenty yards from me. I breathe in the cool, damp air and swat a mosquito away from my face as I step off of the boat onto shore. I grab the rope from the boat and tie it up, so it can’t float back out into the bay.
I turn around and grab a cooler from my dad and carry it up the bank. It’s about 4pm so we have a few more hours of daylight to finish setting up camp. The other boats in our group float up to the shore behind us. My younger brother Kullan hops out of his boat, with my grandpa. Within an hour, all the boats are completely unloaded, and all of the gear is piled up on shore. The rain starts to subside a little as we lay the tarps down and begin to set up the tents. I look around the campsite and out across the lake and realize that we are completely alone out here. We are about an hour and a half boat ride from our vehicles and about a four-hour drive from the nearest town.
As the unpacking starts to whined down, Kullan and I grab our fishing poles and head out into the bay to catch dinner. We troll around the island right out in front of camp and pound the walleyes. The 15-16-inch walleyes are the best eaters, so we throw anything bigger or smaller back. When we think we have enough for the eight people on the trip to eat, we drive back to shore. My dad and grandpa take the stringer of fish from us and head over to the cleaning table to prepare the fish for dinner. After a good hour of fishing, and a good 15 hours of traveling under our belts, Kullan and I grab our camp chairs and set them up around the fire. When dinner is ready to go, we grab our plates and load it up with fried fish, baked beans and some corn chips and head back to our chairs around the fire. This is what dinner will look like every night for the next week. Ii smile knowing I’ll be eating PB&J sandwiches by tomorrow because I’ll already be sick of fish.
After dinner, we all sit around the campfire and my dad recalls stories that have happened over the past 46 years that my grandpa has been taking him. Stories about bears coming into camp and stealing entire coolers, dragging them away into the woods or boats floating away in the middle of the night… They go on and on for hours.
I sit there and think about how great this is. I get to hang out with my dad and brother, and my grandpa who is nearly 80 years old and still comes along on the trip. Sitting at the campfire, I look up into the clear dark sky. The rain clouds have cleared, and I swear I could see every single star out there in the galaxy.
This yearly trip I am lucky enough to be a part of wasn’t a trip to a five-star resort. It was trip with my family out into the wilderness, so far away from civilization I felt at certain points as if I was on a different planet. It’s not just a fishing trip; it’s a life changing adventure. I learned how I could survive with a few supplies. I learned how to be patient: sitting in a boat for hours a day when the fishing is slow. I learned how important the bonds of family truly are, watching my dad and grandpa run this trip, as they had been for the past 40 years or so. I learned, looking up at those millions of stars how big the world was and how small all of these ‘problems’ I have really are.
It’s more than a fishing trip. It’s part of what makes me who I am.