Huckleberry zen and a Shuksan dream
Huckleberry zen and a Shuksan dream

Huckleberry zen and a Shuksan dream


(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.