There’s a man – middle aged by common standards – living on the land of the Canadian Shield in northern Manitoba who says he chooses to live outrageously.
Spend half an hour with him at a camp that’s worth $47 million to him but significantly less to society, or in a boat labeled ‘G.E.C.’ (Good Enough Construction), on a walking trail or in a home-built Murphy Rebel float plane, and you won’t be able to doubt his claim.
The statements he makes, the questions he asks, his very story – for all intents and purposes, they’re outrageous. But underneath words that will make you scoff, laugh or scratch your head, there’s a quiet, haunting truth.
When I told him my plan, he said I must be more outrageous than he is, because I’m leaving my job, my friends, the mountains I love and the monotonous yet comforting stability of civilization for three months to follow him around on a remote, fly-in trapline, two old Canon Rebels and a notebook in tow. I’ll document a once popular and now fading way of life. I’ll document a love story for the land, brimming with humanity. Maybe they’ll have an effect, reach a little further than my immediate circle.
It’s not outrageous, really, my plan to head to a place where there are no roads and no people for miles and miles. I’m dependable in some ways, but I’m dependable in my fickleness as well. I’ve lived in the northeastern foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in a town I love, working a dream job with some of the best people I know for the last year and eight months. For someone who has moved more than 20 times in her 27 years on this planet, the time spent here in this small Alberta town signals remarkable staying power. But it’s not unlike me to be grasped by a place, by a story, and to have this need to chase it until it runs out. And it’s not unlike me to head into the bush and stay there for as long as I can.
I had planned on heading to the trapline not this year, but next. But life throws curveballs every once in a while. It’s full of surprises, and nothing ever stays the same. So I find myself a month away from this new adventure, a list of questions the length of my arm, and a child-like excitement growing in me by the day