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Luxury in the wilderness

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POSTED June 17, 2013 12:59 a.m.

My favorite fishing and hunting spots are almost always out in the wilderness where I can fish or hunt all day without seeing another human. As our world becomes increasingly crowded, finding solitude becomes harder and harder.

The price for wilderness solitude is often having to hike into a canyon that’s 2,000 feet deep. The fishing is usually great because nobody else is crazy enough to hike back up out of the canyon in the blazing heat at 4 in the afternoon. One day, I caught and released 106 trout while my darned partner caught 156 fish! We caught a fish on almost every cast and never saw another human all day. It was fantastic.  Then we had to walk up out of that God-Forsaken hole in the heat of the afternoon. That part was truly miserable.

Fortunately not everyone is as crazy as me and there are normal people who want to enjoy a wilderness experience and sleep at night in a comfortable bed. Believe it or not, age plays a factor in such decisions too. When I was 25 I had no trouble tossing a sleeping bag on a sandbar and roasting my trout on a stick over a campfire. As I’ve gotten a little older I see more merit in eating at a real table with a linen tablecloth and drinking wine from crystal stemware instead sitting on a log and drinking bourbon from a tin cup. Fortunately there are some pretty good solutions to the problem of wanting a wilderness experience where you have comfortable amenities as well.

There are numerous lodges that are located at or near wilderness areas. The Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite National Park is one such example. There you can experience world class dining and lodging and still enjoy some great fishing and hiking as well. Coats and  tie are still required for gentlemen in the main dining room and you get to look out upon scenery fit for a King. Actually, Queen Elizabeth II did stay at the Ahwanee and I suspect she found it fitting for a Queen. There are numerous lodges in spots not as well known as Yosemite Valley.

As a child I had an aunt who owned and operated an elegant lodge on a place called Gold Lake. Aunt Dorothy took great pains to see that everything was just perfect for your visit. There were linen tablecloths and napkins, silver table settings and crystal stemware for your wine. Your salad was delivered with a chilled salad fork. The place oozed with old world charm. Yet despite all the luxury of Gold Lake Lodge, there was world class fishing just a few miles away. It could really spoil a person. I expect that if you search on the internet for “Luxury Wilderness Adventures” you’ll find a great many places to cater to your needs.

Another great innovation in providing luxurious wilderness accommodations is the advent of white water rafting. In the past twenty years or so rafting companies have expanded their operations to rivers that I never would have believed could even be run with a raft. When you have gone over Clavey Falls on the Tuolumne you’ll think back and wonder why you were crazy enough to do it. Then, you’ll do it again. White water rafting is really addicting and actually not that dangerous. Some of the people who go over Clavey Falls actually survive!

Rafting companies too, have realized that there’s a market for a luxury white water experience and special gourmet food and drink on a Class 5 white water river. Heck some of the raft trips include a separate wine raft with a sommelier to assist you in your wine tasting experience. No Kidding! They really do. If I hadn’t tasted it myself, I wouldn’t believe how incredibly good a cake can come out of a dutch oven covered with campfire coals. It will truly blow your taste buds. Naturally there is still a place for backpacking way into the back of beyond. But fortunately for us old codgers, there are also opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in luxury. Don’t believe me? Give it a try!

Until Next Week,

Tight Lines

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