My family doesn’t fish. Sacrilege, I know. I don’t have anything against fishing and I certainly love eating fish but a middle class family of four can only accommodate a finite amount of outdoor pastimes and gear. Fishing didn’t make our short list. Neither did bow hunting, through-hiking, or adventure racing.

But lake kayaking did. I like to take our boats to small Inland Northwest lakes with the kids and “fish for empties.” Any lake that attracts camping and fishing almost certainly attracts empty alcohol containers. It’s a whole heckuva lot of fun to cruise the shoreline in a kayak on a treasure hunt for Keystone cans and bottles of Bud. Sure it’s picking up litter, which is nice and all, but it’s also a waterborne scavenger hunt. My favorite outdoor family pic this year is my daughter hoisting up a half-full 40-ouncer that she dug out from a shore thicket at Round Lake.

A couple of weeks ago my son and I were exploring by kayak our new favorite mountain water hole, Ferry County’s Trout Lake. At the far end of the lake we were exploring where the water turned to wetlands and seeing how far our kayaks could sneak into the lily-pads. I got to a spot where my boat bottomed out. I could just hump it over this one spot and keep going, but decided against it. We continued to search the shoreline and my son found a mother-load of beer cans about forty feet away.

As he worked to get them in the boat I happened to glance over my shoulder. Trudging through the lily-pads at the exact spot where I had just decided not to hump was the biggest cow moose I’ve ever seen. My son was talking loudly about the cans not looking at me. I hissed at him as loud as I could. He turned and froze. We both stared at the creature, stunned. Then the moose saw us. She gave out a loud snort and started swimming right for us. We backward paddled. Who knew a moose could swim so fast? The moose saw something she wanted to eat and started diving under the water and we were a bad memory. Relieved, we sat there silently, marveling at the movements of this amazing creature.

There’s still a submerged six-pack of Keystone Ice cans somewhere up at Trout Lake. I wouldn’t trade it for my moose story.

JON SNYDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF