The Wilderness has many moods. Yesterday as we paddled and waded our way up the Phoebe River the sun played hide and seek with the bright, billowing clouds floating overhead. It was warm and wading in the water felt good.
As we paddled across Knight Lake dark clouds appeared behind us. We began paddling with urgency, racing the storm. We planned to camp on Phoebe Lake a couple miles ahead and hoped to reach our campsite before the storm overtook us. We reached the first campsite moments before a strong thunderstorm struck. We huddled under our Cooke Custom Sewing tarp as the rain thundered down, running off the tarp and forming tiny rivers that twisted through the rocky campsite.
The rain and thunder continued for several hours so we played guessing games, swatted mosquitoes, and cooked up a big pot of “Deluxe” Macaroni and Cheese. After dinner Amy and I scouted for a better campsite where there was room for our tents while the rest of the group did the dishes and prepared to depart.
By the time Amy and I return, the rain had stopped and the lake was like glass. We loaded the canoes and paddled across Phoebe Lake to a better campsite as the sun set somewhere behind the clouds. It was 9 PM by the time we were unloading our canoes and preparing to pitch our tents. The mosquitoes must have heard we were coming, because we were greeted by a buzzing cloud that quickly swarmed us all and went to work. It wasn’t easy, or fun, but the 5 high school students from Chicago and their teachers took it in stride, setting up their tents and crawling in for the night.
12 hours later we are perched on the large sloping rock in front of our camp, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and a breeze sent the bugs fleeing into the woods. Life is perhaps a little sweeter because of the hardships we weathered last night. Wilderness is a wonderful teacher and often the hard lessons are the ones that stick with us the longest, helping us the most long after the blisters and the mosquito bites have faded.
The Wilderness will keep teaching its ancient lessons to countless generations if we protect it.