In The Mountains

Sometimes, even in the middle of a strong king salmon season, you start craving something a little more delicate and less industrial. The idea was to escape the heat and smoke, and if things went well, find a few decent trout willing to come up for dry flies. I guess we didn’t go high enough–it was still hot and smoky–but the little river was beautiful, with cool water flowing over drops and swirling through plunge pools. There were just enough trout of various shades of small to keep us interested. That’s Skyla above, pushing a nice loop upstream.

Some were tiny and tame, while others were slightly less tiny and the color, as my friend Bill McMillan says, of butterflies.

Halo, though, was having a rough time, her paws and claws not exactly adapted to scrambling on big, loose, slippery boulders. It was slow, sweaty going working our way upstream, trying to find paths that Halo could manage. When we found a flat spot, she and Weston were both ready for a break.

Skyla wanted to keep pushing farther up to fish, so we left the boy and his dog in the shade and kept going. From one vantage point, we could just barely see what looked like a flat spot in the river way upstream. We cut into the woods trying to find an easier path.

After a little brush busting, we emerged from the trees to something from a dream. The river spilled over a bedrock escarpment in waterfalls and slides, pouring into a deep, emerald-green basin shaded by moss-covered maples. Trout of all sizes cruised through the pool. Skyla caught a couple right away, and I hooked one big enough to dive into the maple roots and break the leader.

Then we rushed back downstream to get Weston and Halo. And Weston knew exactly what to do:

Skyla quickly joined him, and we spent the rest of the day in the water, laughing, shouting, jumping in, sliding down rocks, and generally having the best possible time. It wasn’t the outcome I expected–it was better. Much, much better. And I think, a perfect argument for the idea that you never really know what you’ll find when you go somewhere new and keep pushing upstream.

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