(Mount Shuksan reflected in Lake Ann))
A second thought and an afternoon phone call to the ranger station had me throwing together a pack for an October overnight in the Cascades and hopefully a couple gallons of huckleberries. The weather was holding, Lake Ann was still bare, and North-facing huckleberries were ripe above 5,000 feet.
Tent. Bag. Stove. Snacks. Camera. Coffee. Fly rod. Some odds and ends. I was good for one last night out before winter, in search of hucks and a trout dinner.
It was this late afternoon around Lake Ann- an alpine tarn high on the backside of Mount Shuksan that the dream materialized. The ripening idea was to start something special around split-cane fly rods, saturate it in environmental ethics and conservation, and awareness. Some construction that resembled business, but valued principals and product above profit. As a fireman, certainly not a businessman, I figured the best and worst I could do was create something that paid for itself and helped out our rivers. I was stoked with the thought, engaged in a huckleberry zen, and wondering if dusk would bring any kind of hatch about the lake.
That little house of alpine cards collapsed rather quickly. My little nirvana didn’t last and I never did notice if anything was hatching on the lake surface. I was hit with the perfect backcountry storm: The late start. A snapped tent pole. A surprisingly aggressive black bear and a malicious blizzard, all simultaneously making an appearance out of nowhere. I decided at 8 o’clock that evening to cut my losses and high tail it the five trail-miles home in the dark sleet…realizing I’d forgotten to bring a headlamp.
Eventually, I regained some of the zen I lost over my frustrations with the tent, and my own haste…and shook loose the bear- the beneficiary of my huckleberries. About an hour into the walk back to the trailhead the sleet stopped, the wind died and pockets opened through the clouds and I got back to where I was, slowing my pace, even picking huckleberries in the dark as I walked. I got back to thinking about the Shuksan Rod Company, that name sounded good, and appreciating the starlight that finally shed some clarity on the last couple miles of trail.