Over the past couple years, I've had the esteemed pleasure of becoming closer friends to two amazing men; Luke Wholey of Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille, and Nicholas Colangelo of Colangelo's Bakery. Toward the end of 2014, I went fishing with them on the Allegheny for Luke's sought out muskies.
This year I was invited to join them again, however ice fishing on Keystone Lake was my new adventure. I jumped at the opportunity, hopped into my car and in true Amber form after an hour of being lost (with GPS) met them in upper Kittanning. Let me back up and preface... this was the first time I've ever walked on a lake before. I was nothing less than terrified as I pulled in. I parked my car, grabbed my gear, and headed toward the figures I could see in the distance. As I walked onto the lake, my mind didn't register that I was actually walking on water until I was about 10 feet out, and then slight panic set in. I could feel my hands getting clammy, my blood pressure rising, and ultimately beads of sweat start to arise on my forehead. My first full view of the lake however was so wondrous and breathtaking, it immediately stopped me in my tracks.
I stood there, paralyzed in this frozen paradise which almost brought tears to my eyes. I remember slowly turning full circle and symphonic music started to fill my ears. I can't describe this intense emotion that overwhelmed me in words, but for anyone who has seen beauty as close to the face of God, I think you may relate. The hairs on the back of my neck are starting to raise just writing this, and recalling that natural steller. I found myself refocusing, and as I did I began toward those figures once again.
Nick and Luke had been at this spot for hours now, and said it was time to try a new one. They packed up and headed toward land. They took turns pulling this massive sleigh bottomed shelter full of gear. I'd guess it to weigh around three to four hundred pounds loaded.
Off we headed up the road to our next destination. As I got out of my car I saw the new location was heavily wooded down to the lake.
I thought to myself these men had their work cut out, and did they. But with no hesitation, they unpacked, and started down the hill determined and driven.
He continued doing this across the lake looking for his ideal place to set up.
They picked out where they wanted to centralize, and the process began. I pulled the sleigh up to them, and I saw Nick starting to set the perimeter with flags. He then gave me lessons on how to bait the flags, which bait is used and why, and also how to read the sonar system.
They were so patient with me and my lack of knowledge of ice fishing throughout the entire day. I am grateful to have gone with two men that were both kind and also willing to teach. It was also nice to be treated not like a princess, but one of the guys. I've never thought of myself as a princess type, and sometimes some men just can't handle that. At times I find I'm pushed aside from being taught something because men think I'm either not interested or I'm a girl. I've learned that true friends without regard love you for who you are and what you bring to the table; while also recognizing that you aren't perfect, and if there is room for improvement are willing and supportive of that.
Fishing commenced for the next 3 hours. Luke and Nick kept ever busy. Back and forth setting new flags, checking on prior ones, and all the while waiting for that Big Fish. During this time I witnessed a sincere friendship between them. They shared previous fishing stories, some hopes and dreams, and most importantly laughter and genuine mirth. At different points in the day I found myself walking away to give them time to just be, but every time as I looked back on them I smiled.
Thank you so much Nick and Luke for allowing me to learn more than I ever thought I would about life, friendship, and ice fishing ... while ice fishing. Hope you enjoy some of these pictures.