February is an interesting time of the year; most of the hunting seasons are over, there’s ice fishing to do (which I did this past Monday and caught four nice fish in a morning of fishing), there are deer and elk antler sheds to be found, and it’s a good time to start planning for the coming seasons. I am well known for my meticulous planning, and I love figuring out all of the adventures for the coming year and getting them on the calendar. As I mentioned in a post two nights ago about getting your kids excited about outdoor activities, this is a great thing to involve your kids with during a month that may find you locked indoors when a winter storm blows in.
For me, I already have two things pretty much set in stone, as long as I draw the needed tags. First is muzzle loader elk hunting in September in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in a drop camp that I hunted two years ago. I can’t wait to go back to that place, there are some big bulls in that area, and I think about it every day. Second is deer hunting during the rut in mid November in northwestern Colorado, in a place I have never been before, but I have a great chance with all of my preference points to get a deer tag for a hunt of a life time. Those two trips alone have me figuring out all kinds of logistical things right now, and that gets me excited for the hunts, even though they are months away.
What I won’t be doing this summer is taking what would have been my 14th annual horseback fishing trip in the Flat Tops, which makes me a little sad. That trip has been a tradition for me for a long time, but the timing of that trip, which I normally do over the 4th of July, isn’t going to work out this year. While that is unfortunate, I have always been a strong believer in the saying that when one door closes, another one opens. and now I have an opportunity for a new adventure.
I have been thinking for a couple of years about taking a multi-day canoe trip on a river, like I did so many times when I was a kid on the Buffalo and White rivers in the Ozarks. I have a friend who is a canoeing and kayaking enthusiast, and he shared some information with me about trips like this on the North Platte River in Wyoming, and I am going to put some serious thought into doing a trip like that this summer.
What is so cool about a canoe trip down a river is you are in almost complete control of the trip. You pack up the canoe with your camping gear, survival gear, food, fishing gear, and head out for some destination miles away, the number of miles determined only by the amount of time you have. Of course arranging for having your truck delivered to your destination point can limit you somewhat, but there are plenty of people who offer that service. You fish along the way, set up camp on a sandbar or the river bank for the night, get a good camp fire going, sleep under the stars, and pretty much live off the land. Of course I would bring some food, but part of the challenge is that you have to feed yourself along the way, either with fish, plants, or whatever game is legal to shoot or trap along the way. Just the thought of an adventure like that is exciting to me. It makes me think of the mountain men who ventured into the mountains and back in the same manner.
I have a pretty big canoe and a lot of experience with canoe camping, so I am not at all worried about that. The main thing to figure out is a route, and knowing which pieces of land are OK to camp on. In most states, water is considered a property of the state, so it is not trespassing to canoe on a river, although there are a lot of landowners who disagree with that. It’s best to know the laws yourself before you go.
A trip like this holds the promise of so much adventure, now I have something else to occupy my thoughts, like I don’t have enough already!