Just a month ago I found myself sitting next to an earnest young man of 35 who passionately made the case for, of all things, emojis. It requires extra effort on the part of a user, he explained, to click on anything beyond a thumbs-up or smiley face. I should therefore take it as high praise when someone uses a laughing emoticon to react. The scariest part: I found myself listening to him. 

As a non-digital freelance writer, I’ve tried to remain open-minded about social media. I use LinkedIn, though I find it to be a grand celebration of the largely meaningless, full of vacuous stories of personal journeys, corporate blood drives, and team building. To survive the digital world, I need to totally escape it, to go where not even a telephone signal can penetrate. For 15 years now, I’ve gone to the Arctic tundra.  

Stag Scott Diel

Farther faster 

It’s a two-day, 1 500km drive across the entire length of Finland, and we reach the trailhead at three o’clock in the afternoon. The younger anglers in our group of six insist on covering 10km on the tundra itself. The hills we face are only around 400m, but to get to where we want to camp requires going up and down a dozen of them. The 60-somethings in our party bitch about it but relent because even we don’t want to spend an evening near water that doesn’t hold fish.  

In this case we’re after Arctic char, a fish as tasty as it is beautiful, and the tundra lakes are its home, deep enough they won’t freeze in a -50°C winter. My dream is a windless evening, a lake surface like glass, and a 2kg char caught on the dry fly. These perfect conditions are not out of the question, though it’s even money they’ll happen at all, with windy and wet often the rule. 

Mikhel’s char… Dinner?

Five kilometres into our hike we encounter a pool 6m square and a metre deep. In it is a lone char, dashing from one end to the other, gulping down every available insect. He probably came here during high water and won’t be able to reach his home lake without dragging belly over rocks. This one has enough troubles and is left alone. We sit and watch him feed a while and then move on.  

Read the full article by Scott in issue 42. It’s free bru! 

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