To Wait on Pale Ice

Day 5

The Adventure Series is a collection of outdoor experiences, highlighting stories about people with a shared appreciation for wildlife and wild places. These stories reach across cultural and political boundaries, connecting all walks of life and geographies. In pursuit of broadening our collective understanding, TU is partnering with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Arctic Beringia Region this week to take you into the heart of interior Alaska. Follow along each day this week as we bring you the series, “To Wait on Pale Ice,” photographed and written by Woodruff Laputka of the WCS. You can read the first installment here, the second installment here, Day 3 piece here and Day 4 here.

For the rest of the day our luck, at least for catching fish, showed no sign of returning, but the one fish was all it took to turn the ice we stood on into a warm bastion, a sun-soaked playground.

We removed our parkas and several layers, and stayed occupied minding our fishing poles. And the conversation was always light and fishing-related.

K’s and O’s passion for fishing was contagious, and the hours ticked by as we discussed the endless strategizing and method in pursuing our prize, the joy of fly fishing in the Alaska summer, the lake and everything that swims.

Eventually the shadows grew long, a steady cold chill began to breeze along the ice, and the warm embrace of the sun left us. We adorned our layers and parkas once again and fell silent for a time. Then, looking at each other,
knowing well that we’d never be fulfilled by any number of casts, or any number of fish, we called the day a victory and headed for the shore.

I was the last to leave our playground, watching K and O drive ahead. The seasonal houses on Harding Lake all set silent, windows dark, while the sun, drained its heat, raced for the west. Harding Lake had returned to a vast state of mystery to me.

No more fishing for the day. No more stories. No more Humminbird
depth finder or strategies and jigging. All the ice grew quiet, pale, wild once again, waiting for its next group of challengers to arrive.