Eight veteran participants hailing from the United States and Canada traveled to Wilderness North for a memorable experience in the cool green boreal forest of northern Ontario. From July 27 – August 1, 2017, the good folks at Wilderness North hosted their 9th Annual Healing on the Albany event — a special national destination trip that welcomes Project Healing Waters veterans and service member participants to their Miminiska Lodge for a remarkable angling experience.
Prior to arriving at the lodge, the group arrived in Thunder Bay separately or in small groups and had the opportunity to introduce themselves, visit, and retire early in anticipation of the following days rendezvous with the Wilderness coordinators for their flight to the Miminiska Lake Lodge. Located in a far north boreal forest, Miminiska Lodge offered a restorative, healing connection to nature through it’s beautiful surroundings. In addition, the PHWFF participants enjoyed some world class fishing accompanied by their generous hosts at Wilderness North.
Veteran Participant, volunteer, and trip leader Dean Williams recounts the special time, and incredible angling, experienced during their five days in the far north below:
It was a trip of a lifetime for all. 4 Days of non-stop fishing for Walleye and Northern Pike. Many were fishing for these game fish with a fly for the first time. Several were able to use a fly they had tied. The guys from Canada had an assortment of “pike” flies and shared with everyone. Eric Chafe, (Army, Canada) used one of his flies for the big fish of the trip. Rollie Lawless, of Canada used his flies for several pike, and shared one with me. I caught several on that fly including one nearly 40″. Rob Martin, Canada was a lifesaver, he brought several heavy rods, flies, and fly tying gear. Some new flies tied in the evening at our cabin to be used in the next days adventures. Troy, USMC, had a couple of flies he brought from his group in PA, and caught walleyes, Charles USAF, using unfamiliar rods and flies landed walleye and pike. Joe from USARNG in Mass, caught several fish on flies for the first time. He even survived a rod breaking, and said, “best trip ever”.
I have been with PHWFF for over six years, and been a trip leader numerous times, and these folks became life time friends in 5 “too short days.” All had the chance to fish with each other, with guides, and then shared life experiences in our cabin in the evening.
Alan and Krista Cheeseman owners/operators of Wilderness North Lodges are wonderful and caring people who have only one desire that their guests have a “Trip of a Lifetime”. Miminiska is a magnificent setting staffed by people who took this group of veterans into their Lodge family quickly and easily. Two of the veterans had service dogs, and welcomed without a bump in the road. Alan and Krista dined with us one evening, and shared their stories, and listened to ours. Krista heads the kitchen and is a remarkable chef. Alan is hands on, guides, maintains, flies, doing it all.. We ate like kings, and any dietary needs were met with ease.
The group met two others guests, who come to Miminiska annually to fish. They do not fly fish, but by the end of their stay they had caught walleyes with PHWFF participant tied flies. This was a father and son, the elder a Korean War Vet, they shared stories and we shared the Project Healing Waters story.
Every participant shared the same sentiment, how could Alan and Krista ever be thanked enough, and a hope every PHWFF participant get to go to this wonderful place.
We’d like to thank the guides Joe and Keith, who shared their love and lore of Miminiska Lake and Brian and Kate who oversee the daily operations and attend to all needs.