Camping in the Snow
Michigan’s trout season opens on the last Saturday in April and there’s no guarantee of good weather. It’s about a fifty-fifty shot in Michigan. We’ve had balmy weather with morel mushrooms popping, thick snow that brought visibility down to fifteen feet, and every grade of weather between the two. The weather can start out nice and deteriorate quickly, or start bad and end up wonderful. In all of the years of camping on opening day I am proud to say that Feral and I only packed it up once.
We didn’t want to leave. We woke to find snow, built a fire to warm up and went down to the river and fished. Casting was very interesting – watching the lure disappear in snow before it hit the water. As I recall the snow didn’t let up a bit. Then the real show began.
Feral and I were fishing together and had moved just upstream from camp to a wide gradual bend. We were standing on the inside corner when a canoe came by. There was a young boy about age ten in front and middle-age man in the back and they were paddling like mad rounding the outside bend. At the exit of the bend some logs angled outward and sure enough they glanced off the logs and overturned. The water was maybe a degree or two above freezing and they both took a complete swim.
We waded back downstream to help but the man managed to get his canoe up-righted quickly. We told them our camp was right up the hill and that we had a fire – they were welcome to dry out and warm up. The man would have none of that – he said they’d be fine and wanted to keep going. I have no idea how far they were going, maybe Feral can add a comment on this, but if they were heading to the next canoe landing they had a couple freezing hours ahead of them.
We felt so bad for the boy. He may have been in shock. It just seemed surreal not to take our offered help and at least warm up at the fire. We would have been happy to drive them to their vehicle and I’m sure we offered. As far as I was concerned the dad got what was coming to him, the boy was a victim of his dad’s ego or stupidity.
I don’t recall if that incident turned us off for the weekend but it may have. Feral and I packed it up and headed home with a vow to meet back there in one week. We really didn’t mind the snow and it’s not the first time we’d tented in it. It’s just that it wasn’t what we expected. We were thinking Spring.