I can’t keep moving. I have to stop and look back one last time. We came in late in the day and that day we had light snow flurries. Today walking out its lofted white and friendly, the best looking snow of the season to me. Big fat flakes. There so fat they can’t fall fast. Not too many but everywhere I look, its snow falling.

The five in front of me don’t even realize I’ve stopped and I let them soundlessly trudge on. With touch and remit I replay it all. I’m leaving it again and its pulling in me so hard, like don’t go, stay longer, but I have to go. The way in, the time spent and our departure are not about me, it was an us trip. Northern lights, fresh snow falls, pine scented fires. One lone wild dark night, wolf howl. Six full grown male idiots as loud as we could howl back. We sure scared that wolf.

Lake trout plucked from hole’s in a lake so big. We needle in the hay stacked those Lakers. Every one of us, got at least one trout. I can tell you, I was really happy with mine. Dipping water from the lake, watching it steam. Haloed Breath plumes early in the day with no wind, I could make them as I slowly spun a circle forming smoky wreaths. Shushy boot scuffles in crisp morning snow. I never had better hot chocolate. You don’t diet winter camping, you eat everything, anything, all of it. I never had enough candy in any pocket.

Old man by looks, but not by feel and I feel it now getting ready to be done. Do I take that next step to catch up? No. just a few more minutes then I’ll have no choice. One day the sun was so brilliant, the sky so blue and from across a bay this black slithering line runs, slides, stops, runs and slides and becomes an otter out for the day and did he pick a day to play. After he found the far shore I brushed my teeth with the whitest snow and lord I hoped some of that whiteness would remain.

We had the blaze one night. We burned some wood. Burned it for a good long time. Pine boughs popping and snapping, just raging warmth to push the cold back. That bon fire hit the coals stage and like prisoners to cells, we headed for the tents. A couple nights after all the cribbage and manly lying about our fishing and hunting lives was over, I lay back into my deep pile of sleeping bags, wool blankets, fleece lined thermals and looked up at the rows of hanging dangling wool socks. Oh how I hoped the clothes line wouldn’t fall down during the night. That was my big worry, over four days in the winter. Not one other worthless worry. Across the snow they yell for me, I yell back, I’m coming, I’m coming.

The trout whisperer

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