The author cooks steak over a beach fire over the Memorial Day weekend. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

The author cooks steak over a beach fire over the Memorial Day weekend. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Finding success on its terms

Any weekend adventure typically has a few objectives with varying levels of enthusiasm.

By Jeff Lund

For the Juneau Empire

Any weekend adventure typically has a few objectives with varying levels of enthusiasm. You’re excited about everything, but scaling does happen.

The main objective for my buddy Rob, his wife and me, was set shrimp pots, crab pots and camp. They would sleep on their boat, I’d set up my new tent on shore. The image that had me most excited was cooking steaks over a fire while the crab cooker worked on the ocean compliment to the beef. So, I was most excited about the prospects of crab and camping. We also had shrimp pots, but while I love shrimp, the last few weekends have been shrimp-focused, so shrimp settled into third place in the excitement rankings.

But of course, things never work exactly as planned. Sometimes they end up being better because of reasons you didn’t expect, or there is always the lingering feeling that things could go south.

With all that in mind, we bounced gently over polished waves toward a bay protected from the fussy, open-ocean waters. The water flattened completely as we turned a corner and saw a boat. It’s funny how frame of reference varies by location. The three of us have been to campsites in the Lower 48 where there is only a few yards between you and the next spot. Sometimes your space becomes a shortcut to the river, or bathroom. But you tolerate that because it’s a campground. So it’s funny how violated you feel when someone dares to anchor where you had planned to go.

This particular bay was plenty big for five boats to have plenty of room. Which is good, because as we continued further, we saw three more, each scattered about three-quarters of a mile from each other.

There was a formative line of crab pots which further sunk my hopes for an epic weekend. We went to salvage mode. We headed to a different cove and checked the shrimp pots along the way. It had only been about a four-hour soak, but there was nothing. Not even a starfish.

Not good.

But the weather was beautiful, the company great, and the steaks couldn’t escape the cooler.

We figured it might just be a case of needing a longer soak, so we added some herring, sent the shrimp pots back down and adjusted our expectations.

The other bay seemed more like a lake and offered no good spot for my tent, so we returned to Busy Bay and hoped it hadn’t become even more populated. Turns out we knew the owners of two of the boats, but still gave them close to a mile of privacy and settled onto a small beach with a tiny flat rectangle that was probably high enough on the beach that I wouldn’t feel the high tide at 4 a.m.

We ate well on a beach made of smooth pebbles that I often prefer to sand. You might get a pebble in your boot, but sand will get everywhere. Every. Where. Steaks devoured, we watched the fire and felt satisfaction and gratitude. Both grew at 3:30 a.m. when I happened to wake up and looked outside of my tent to find that the tide would not reach me. It was raining, but I’d be dry.

What started out as the point, ended up being the bonus. The shrimp pots were again empty, but we had enough crab for dinner and leftovers. Though not on our terms, it was the success we wanted.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer in Ketchikan. The Kindle version of his book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available on Amazon. His column, “I Went To The Woods,” appears twice per month in the Juneau Empire.

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