Winter Break II

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We spent part of last week visiting with friends in a small cabin on the east side of the Cascades. On the drive up, the family slept and I was left alone to think and stew as I drove past all my old favorite fishing spots on the Skykomish River. The spring wild steelhead catch-and-release season–a fishery I once lived for–should just be starting now. But it closed in 2001 to protect the dwindling steelhead population, and has yet to reopen. I don’t know if it ever will. So the places–Buck Island, Two-Bit, I.R.S., Thunderbird–where I spent so many happy times are now off limits. And driving past them hurts.

The emotional grinding that plagued me on the drive evaporated, though, with a warm greeting from good friends and the heat of the wood stove. Weston was under the weather (he’s since recovered) so we stuck pretty close to the cabin, finding some epic sled runs and great hikes nearby. The picture above is Skyla and her buddy Aubine kicking it up the hill behind the house. Mostly, it felt great to be outside in the dry air and sunshine of Eastern Washington.

On the drive home, back down Highway 2, I had prepared myself for the sight of those great steelhead runs flashing past the windows. And the pangs were less intense, but still much deeper than when I’m working on fish issues from my desk. I guess it’s just good to go see what you’ve lost sometimes to help kick yourself into gear.

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