I watched in silence as my Father, muttering to himself, threw down a small log on the two rocks that he set up. He began sawing through them with a jagged handsaw that he had brought on the backpacking trip. I knew that he was stressed about something, but who knows what it was at the time. We were going backpacking and fishing and that is all that mattered to me. I was a little disappointed. When we arrived after hiking most of that day we tried our hand at fishing. You could see the large cut throat trout swimming in the lake. We tried, but to no avail, the fish were no interested in anything we had to offer.
We circles the lake an in my excitement, got my line tangled up in a pine tree. That disrupted my father’s “relaxing” fishing trip and now we found ourselves settling in for camp. This was a primative location, barely a trail to get here. The spring run off had finished and the mosquitoes were now fully aware of our presence. My father had thrown a couple of cans of corn beef and hash in his backpack and we were getting ready to eat. The fire was barely started and we needed more logs. I sat and watched as he sawed right through his right thumb. He just kept sawing, once, then twice. He was so distracted I do not think he noticed at first, but I did. Quite the scene actually.
Now nothing was going to stop my Dad from his “relaxing” fishing trip. After jumping around and howling a few expletives he got a dirty handkerchief and wrapped what was left of his thumb. We sat in silence, slowly trying to swallow just about the worst tasting can of food I have had in my life. Barely warm enough, the fire died out and we went to sleep. The next morning, things were a little better. My Dad was trying to pretend his thumb was alright. We tried to fish more, did not have success.
We climbed down the mountain, got back in our car and went home. My mom freaked out about the thumb, my Dad said it would be fine. He dumped some hydrogen peroxide on it as I watched in the downstairs mudroom. It was a pretty grotesque scene, the thumb was not in a good condition at all. That was a great trip for me, I memorialized it as my first awesome backpacking trip.
So, now that I am the father, I plan to return to that same lake. I plan to take my young one and I am going to go try my hand at catching that elusive cut throat. I may not succeed, and hopefully will keep my thumbs, but if there is one thing I can pass on is a passion for the outdoors, a love of nature, and a desire to strive to overcome any obstacle, to come back to the scene of failure, even if it takes an entire generation to do so.