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Notes from the North Woods

Pictured is the old Wildcliff Lodge on Cranberry Lake. The place is an original log cabin, that was formerly used to house lumberjacks.  It used to attract a lot of deer hunters, and a fair share of brook trout anglers.

Pictured is the old Wildcliff Lodge on Cranberry Lake. The place is an original log cabin, that was formerly used to house lumberjacks. It used to attract a lot of deer hunters, and a fair share of brook trout anglers. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 has come and gone, and for the vast majority of outdoor travelers, the day passed by nearly unnoticed.

Yet, for a tiny fraction of the millions of outdoor enthusiasts who visit the Adirondacks annually, Monday was an important date.

It signaled the first day that licenses for the annual big game hunting season went on sale. It was a day that caused these enthusiasts to look back to the past, and to dream forward to the future.

Although the day dawned cloudy, cool and drizzly, it provided nothing but sunshine and warm thoughts in the eyes of most sportsmen.

It was a day that stirred up fond memories of past adventures, which mixed easily with anxious anticipation for future pursuits. Regardless of age and experience, the day is always a celebration of youth and the annual adventures that serve to keep us all young.

I thought about this, as I hiked into the woods to my hunting camp on a rainy, Monday afternoon. It is only a short journey to the small cabin, which offers just few comforts beyond a simple woodstove, and a couple of soft bunks.

Despite such rustic austerity, the camp provides an adequate retreat. Although it isn’t located far from the din of civilization, it still provides an adequate escape. Like most camps, it allows me to retreat from the typical cares and concerns of the day, and to slow my pace, and escape the race.

Camps come in all shapes and sizes, but the buildings don't much matter. The physical location is more important than the size or number of structures. A rough camp can be just as comfortable as a Great Camp, since camp is simply a state of mind, and a place in time.

What truly matters is the company we keep, and the commitment to return to camp year after year. The real lure of a camp is the unique draw that continues to bring us back to the woods and waters, from one generation to next.

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