Anatomy of a bail

I’m supposed to be out there right now, in the woods walking and catching fish, rather than sitting in fleece and pajamas drinking coffee (having slept late after staying up even later, watching Jurassic Park 2 and 3 with M).  But driving home last night, listening to CBC blues on the radio and thinking about the trip report contest, got me thinking that I’ve not fulfilled my commitment to discuss bailing.

I left the house yesterday afternoon, having spent a long morning on various projects, with a premonition that I should stay home and knock off even more.  But I didn’t, and things just seemed to drag out beyond all reason from the start: I had to detour to Whitefish to get the park pass from M at work, had to get gas and  snack, had to deal with a loquacious ranger at the BC office, got stuck behind slow folks from Alberta on the road.  It was far too late when I arrived at Rising Sun, with my permit to camp at Red Eagle Lake, and intention to packraft across the lake to start.  I had checked the wind at Browning and East Glacier before leaving home, but St. Mary Lake was functioning as its normal wind venturi.  Not bad by its standards, but enough to problematic in my little sail of a boat.  I had to try, suited up, inflated, put in, and realized 100 meters off shore I wasn’t going to make headway, as I needed to travel perpendicular to the wind.

So I walked back to the truck, put my gear away, drove down the road, and got out the Guinness I had bought for a post-trip toast.  I walked down to my favorite overlook near the golden stairs and sat, bundled in all my clothes, and toasted an exceedingly short trip while I watched to light show (above).

There were plenty of other options to salvage some sort of trip, but I decided to do what I hadn’t earlier, and listen to the fates at large.  I went home, annoyed with all the driving, but otherwise content.

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5 thoughts on “Anatomy of a bail

  1. Having bailed and failed on a couple of trips this year this post resonated with me strongly. The key is to find the positives from these experiences. It seems you you managed it very well, some people have to go on trips for a weeks to get a shot half as good as the one above!

  2. I realized that since July I’ve had a remarkable run of good trips and good luck. It certainly doesn’t always work like that.

    On the other hand, success is both a mental construct and a result of experience and planning. Had I stuck with my original plan (a different lake system) and left home earlier, things would have gone off without a hitch.

    Yesterday i was reading our poor, local outdoor magazine, Montana Headwall. In the intro the editor-in-chief mentioned that so much of outdoor adventure (and the stories they run) are characterized by misadventure and plans gone awry. I wanted to respond that yes, but, you’d have a lot more successful stories if you hired someone other than gumby/pro-journalist/wankers.

  3. I’ve only read one issue of “Headwall” and I liked it. I should check out more just to see if my opinion would jive more with yours. Hmm. Anyway, I’ve bailed off scads of trips. It particularly sucks in the moment but over time I know you’ll remember those that went well vs. those that didn’t – – or at least you’ll find humor in it hopefully.

    1. Re: Headwall, I’ve liked it less and less (overall) as they’ve gotten established and pro mag writers have started filling the pages. Missoula has more pro freelancers than you can shake a stick at.

      There is an article on bowhunting elk in the latest that I quite enjoyed.

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