Sunday, May 24, 2020

Into the Mystic

Let your soul and spirit fly, into the mystic...

On the verge of deep sleep, a distant rumbling cut through the nightly chorus and stirred me out of my stupor. I peered out of my hammock and into the upriver void. The approaching sound of civilization reminded me that I wasn't alone and that my location was still connected to its industrial past. As the train rounded the bend, its lights cut through darkness and fog. Each passing tree creating a flickering effect, like a strobe, that reflected off the water and into my rain fly. I laid transfixed on the light making its way through the gorge as it illuminated the journey ahead. 

The image stoned me to my soul. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020


For all intents and purposes, I was hungover on the morning of day three, completely exhausted from the dehydrated, adrenaline filled, all out fishing of day two. I sat in the raft for some time listening to the morning chorus, missing out on what I soon realized was a nice streamer window. My body and mind slowly adjusted to the amount of water I consumed and I summoned the energy to start moving. 

This was the day I started to mellow out a bit. I no longer felt like I had to cover every inch of water and instead, became part of the ebb and flow of the river. I settled into a daily routine that involved copious shade filled breaks, swinging sessions, and a lot of water to prevent dehydration in the sun. 

A few days prior, I planned a rendezvous with my sister for my first resupply. Would she be there at our scheduled time? Would I make it there? Did my Dad tell her that I needed shoes? Would work mark the end of the excursion? These were the thoughts on my mind as I pulled up the anchor and began drifting further downriver...

Friday, May 22, 2020

Foam Lines

Drunk on the wildness of the moment...

I awoke in a cocoon tucked into the bottom of the raft. It took a minute for my senses to orient to their surroundings and for my mind to wrap around the fact that I never left the river. Condensation covered everything and saturated my sleeping bag. I bemoaned the fact that I forgot a towel and resorted to using my hooded sweatshirt to wipe down the seat on the raft. I rummaged through my packed gear in order to find my Jet Fuel french press and then realized that I forgot coffee grounds too. This time, the replacement was a Cliff coffee bar in order to find a small jolt of caffeine. I sat down to adjust, eat breakfast, and scanned the pool for any sign of rising trout to the dead spinners on the water. Like the night before, there wasn't much going on. The river exhibited that morning calmness that we all know and hold dear. I eventually got on the oars and preceded to float a few miles through more skinny water until I got to familiar territory. Each stroke brought me closer and closer to better wild trout water. The day called for high temperatures, bright sun, and a good amount of wind. It ended up being a slow day overall, periodically broken up with some stocked and wild trout. In the evening, the river came alive producing an hour of top notch dry fly action that I will never forget. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

If I Go, I'm Goin

Just do it...

The reality of the trip existed in my head for over a month. A constant back and forth between "this is going to happen," and "real world responsibilities getting in the way." Sure, I dabbled here and there to get ready for the float. I ordered essentials like MRE's, energy bars, and compostable wet wipes.  I even prepped drop boxes for multiple resupplies and created an itinerary for family and select friends. In terms of fishing preparation, the daily grind of school, and nightly excursions to fish the hatches of May, left the state of my supplies in complete disarray. When I realized that the window of opportunity was closing and I got the green light from my work schedule, I began to pack in earnest. I remembered fishing related necessities like finishing the deer hair heads on two streamers and ended up forgetting basic needs like shoes, utensils, and a towel. 

The drive to the river left an odd feeling in my gut. Typically, I'm excited and highly anticipatory. At first I didn't understand the feeling I had but as we got closer to the destination, I realized that I was nervous. The weight of the excursion was on my shoulders and thoughts of being alone on the raft for two weeks sowed some seeds of doubt. Rather than thinking of the brown trout that awaited me, I found my mind wandering to named rapids that I had yet to conquer, the lack of cell phone service, and limited availability of assistance. I called Matt on the cell phone and he put my mind at ease. As is his usual refrain when it comes to my fishing exploits, he reassured me and simply said, "keep living the dream". The dark cloud of work loomed over my head, but it was declared over. I kept telling myself that I had nothing to worry about. 

Fuck, I forgot shoes...

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Chalk Filled Erasers

Awaiting Magic Hour... 

In 8th grade, I was part of the “Green Team,” and I had a math teacher who was a local fly fishing legend named John Mauser. He had a Dave Whitlock painting hanging in the classroom of a big brown trout eating mayflies and hosted a canoe trip every spring on the local river. Having just started fly fishing the summer before school, I spent untold hours daydreaming at that painting. Recently, I found my class shirt that has a walleye across the team crest representing Mauser. After twenty years, it still fits. I threw it on last night and went for a long walk on the canoe trip waters. I found a scene very similar to that painting and fooled a beautiful brown on a dry fly. I’d like to think Mr. Mauser would be proud and not throw chalk filled erasers at me.