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I met Mark over 25 years ago and was lucky to be able to share a lot of adventures with him. From hunting caribou in northern Quebec, moose hunting in northern Ontario, and chasing whitetails in the corn fields of Michigan.
Mark usually came up to my place in the fall so we could combine hunting and running my trapline. On one of Mark's first trips up the Ottisse trail trapping marten, after walking about four miles he asked me how much further. I told him we were about half way...he never said anything, and we finished up the line and headed home. After a late supper I noticed Mark was a bit stiff as he headed up to bed, but still no complaints. In the morning when asked how he slept he said, "Man, I slept like a rock!" I still use that phrase to this day and think of Mark.
One fall moose hunt began with a rugged 10 mile quad ride into tough bush. We planned to spend three nights in a tent. It poured rain the whole time. The first morning we woke up to 2 inches of water in the bottom of the tent - everything was soaked. When I asked Mark how he slept he replied "like a wet rock". The trip out was treacherous; the creeks and rivers were in full flood. We had to long-line and winch the quads across one river and numerous creeks. We were drenched - the wettest, coldest I've ever been....still, Mark never complained.
We would run my beaver and marten traps by 14 foot boat and a 25 HP Johnson up 15 miles on the Aguasabon River in late October, with Mark in the front of the boat. I knew he was cold, but he never complained. (In years following he would tell me how warm he was in his brand new set of Gortex hunting clothing!)
One winter Mark came back to Lake Superior's north shore to experience winter trapping in January. We took two snow machines and spent a few nights in my log cabin on the trapline. We put over 50 miles on the sleds the first daychecking marten traps, pulling our machines out of the slush, snowshoeing the bigger hills...it was a hard day. We got back to the cabin after dark and our beer was frozen! Mark took charge and put a few "cold ones" in a pot of water on the woodstove. Boy did he laugh...it was the first time he ever had to cook his beer. In the morning when asked how he slept...yep, he slept like a rock.
Mark was always there for me in hard times, tough times and good times. It was an honour that he considered me a friend.I regret that I won't be able to travel to Michigan to remember Mark in person, but I think he would understand. I'm heading on a six day paddling trip which has been in the works for 6 months...but I know that he will be there with me in each stroke of the paddle...and yes Mark, I'll sleep like a ROCK!