We almost went Chris McCandless this weekend. We were that close to the wild.
Mark and I put the canoe in at Ed Gordon/Pt. Remove. It was an unfamiliar launch, but it smelled like dead fish and there were bait containers littering the ground. We paddled a mile or so up the creek. It was wide, deep and cold. That should have been our first clue something was wrong. This is Arkansas, where it's hot, shallow and narrow.
It soon became clear the whole area was flooded. After two miles, we couldn't distinguish the creek from the forest and started paddling through the trees. Branches and brambles scratched at our faces, spiders invaded the boat, logs and stumps blocked our path and there was nary a gar or turtle in sight. Still, we continued to put out jug lines, as evidenced by this pic.
We made our way through the forest over to a field of white flowers commonly known as marsh mallows, or so our friend Ben says. This is where I began to get scared. Because there was a monarch butterfly, a few of them actually, but one in particular that was evil. It was the way she attacked the flowers, like she deserved the nectar, like it was her due. That butterfly knew each flap of her wings affected people in China. We had to get out there.
So we paddled back. Only we didn't paddle back. We paddled until we were lost. Nature-it all looks the same. See what I mean?
The conversation went like this:
Does anything look familiar?
Do you remember this cypress?
I don't think we saw that gnarled log before. Did we?
Finally we heard a train--civilization--but we still had no idea where the launch was, so we parked the canoe and climbed up an embankment. At the top was the levee. So we walked. And we walked. Here's a picture of the path.
After an hour and a half trek around Fish Lake, we came out a private hunting club. Thankfully no one met us with guns, but there were duck blinds and deer blinds and duck decoys and three giant wire contraptions full of Busch Light cans. Only Busch Light! No other beer. A political statement, obviously.
We stealthed through the private property and hit the blacktop, then walked another few miles to a liquor store, where the clerk called the sheriff who drove us to our car. We rode in the back like criminals.
Later, in the comfort of our home, Mark found our path on Google Earth--we were way off. Because it was a maze of creeks in there, made more confusing by the flooding. We're lucky we didn't cannibalize each other in desperation.
The next day, again thanks to Google Earth, we drove on the levee and found the canoe.
We checked our jug lines and there was a catfish on one. We ate it for dinner, and in that small way, scored one for humans.