Sunday, April 25, 2021

Water Colored Memories

 Memories get foggy.  Sometimes you don't remember a memory, you remember the video of your memory.  Sometimes your memory blends into another memory and looses it's context.  The reds below three bars and a bluff, not the one directly below the third bar, but the one below that, after the big sweeping turn with the view of Kashiak mountain.  Seems I remember it being a fair weather day, maybe not totally blue bird and hot, but not dark and rainy.  A decade of pictures and video and even high grade drone footage left us a bit reticent to capture every fish and yammer on an on about how much we loved this place, all that is left  of that day is the memory.  

There were chum weaving in and out, up and down off the far bank.  Large rainbows and Dolly Varden would be in the mix, gorging and trying to avoid being gored.  Twice a frantic jerk yanked the mouse away from a crazed male chum.  Hooking 30 lbs of spawning chum lost it's allure in 2010.   The third cast put Mr. Hanky skating and gurgling a few inches above the rhythmic chaos.  A male chum rose and gulped air directly above the mouse, before  it submerged, another large head rose and came over the back of the chum, just above it's dorsal.  In my mind it was another chum, but my hands didn't move, the mouse disappeared and my hands pulled the line taught and raised the rod up and away.  There was no explosion, just weight and movement.  In my mind I'd hooked a flipping chum, but my eyes saw orange and black and my hands pulled on the fish as it swam away from the fray and went into the typical head shakes and heavy pulls of a big trout. My hands remember the girth of the buck Dolly, my eyes remember it's nose stretching to the big eye on the rod as I "measured it" and my mind remembers thinking, although this is probably the biggest trout I've ever caught, I don't know where the camera is and I've got a hundred pics of big dolly's laying on a gravel bar, I'm living in the moment, I will never forget this fish.  Man I wish I had a picture of that buck right now!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

T-minus 24 days- get with the program!

I know, I know, it's like the 10th trip, should be simple to prep, but with scout high adventure and a wedding I've been distracted.  So here's a 14 day prep list.  Please add to it.

Sunday  June 25:
Inspect fishing gear:
 Fly lines (evaluate sink tip for 6 wt, long cast for 5wt, sink tip for 8 wt)
 Reels lubed, lines cleaned and wound
 Make sure have enough Flourocarbon leader material (15-20 lb)
 Load dollies in the Sushi Roll and mice in a box
Inspect waders
Change boot soles to studds
Get the camera from Noelle and make sure batteries are working, buy new if needed.
Make secret IK upgrade
Review Gear list and update (read journal, last 2 years packing list)
     - Paracord for anchor

Monday June 26th:
Order flies (7 small dollies, 2 waking wounded, 1 other mouse)
buy NRS Straps (3x18" for rod caddie, 4x24" for stowing)
Find a heavy duty mesh bag for anchor rocks
demo the walkies

Tuesday June 27th:
Pre stage
   Stack gear and clothes on staging table
   Make final clothes decisions
   Review toiletries and meds, refresh as needed
   Update list

Friday/ Saturday/ Sunday June 28-30th
Final Stage
Prepack, make sure everything fits
unpack and let it sit there for a week
Buy license ( print and stow)

Monday July 3rd
Morgan and Cole come in

Tuesday July 4th
Golf carts and flags at Lake Lure (repeat every 15 minutes "I'll be on Nayorrunrun in 2 weeks)

Wednesday July 5th

Thursday July 6th
Morgan to Columbia Temple  (try not to cry)

Friday July 7th
To the lake house
Christian and friends come in

Saturday July 8th
Lake Lure (loved the 4th rednecks so much WE'RE BACK)

Sunday July 9th
Church in ForestCity

Monday, Tuesday July 10- 11th

Wednesday July 12th
Drive to DC

Thursday July 13th
Sealing in DC and drive home

Friday July 14th
Work in the AM
Prep for reception in the PM

Saturday July 15th
Finish reception prep in the AM
PM  reception (daddy dance goes viral on youtube- cause I'm a bad man)

Sunday July 16th
Final gear review and

Monday July 17th
BOC Meeting that night

Tuesday July 18th
AM Work
Kiss the missus goodbye
Leave for SLC at 8pm
sleep with honda and marcee

Wednesday July 19th- 
6:28 Leave SLC to Portland
Portland to ANC
Arrive in Dilly on 3pm AA Jet, Hop a 150 or 205 to the pond!!!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brighton and Southern Utah 3/16-19 2017

Quick summary of the trip... Travis and I skied and boarded at brighton per handos recolmendation Thursday 3/16.   Warm day with icy but groomed conditions in the morning giving way to more slushy conditions but still good conditions, no crowd spent most the day off snake Creek lift and enjoyed the run Thor.  Great little resort.... legs were smoked after 5 hours non stop and we headed back (20 min) to hondos office.  Jb was already at the mules house when we got there.  Changed out tires on the trailer, loaded up bikes and gear, jb had Katie and Dixon.  None of mules kids could make it.   Rolled out about 5 or so.   Met Morgan, Cole  and Christian at Cafe rio in Orem.   After the requisite stuffing headed on down to St George, arriving about 10pm to Mike's place.   Mike the most gracious host and great for me to see his condo 85% finished and hinshaw realizing the vision he first aspired to on the inaugural Kash trip on 2008.  Was a wonderful subtext to have ncaa tourney rolling in the background.  Good filler for the evening gaps.

Slept in on Friday but eventually stirred and headed out to bear claw poppy, a convenient 10 min bike from the condo.  I rode marees bike definately small but adequate.  Katie was bring up the rear on the gradual  ascent, wondering why it was so hard after a semester of tough weight training with the football coach, I may later did jb discover her front break was rubbing.   As we made the cross over via a mildly technical wash, Dixon was plagued with the first of two flats.  Hondo took the pause as op to launch his latest gadget, the drone.   The whoop de Doos going down were great but we slowed up do you a second flat tire.  Eventually we all rendezvoused and instead of looping it again, gave in t ok hunger and headed back for lunch about 1230.

After lunch we headed to green Valley gap for rock climbing.  We strung up ropes at the same route wed climbed a few years ago.  The temp was unseasonably warm so after we each climbed we opted for two routes in the shade both with chimney qualities, one tighter the hand the other.  The sun was setting as I nervously performed my first clean out with jb having exited the gap and sitting on top walking me through it, hondo on belay.  The "kid napper" crept back over  the ruddy road and soon we were munching tacos and burritos  (but no frijoles) at the favorite dirt bag haunt, coyotes.

Christian and Morgan rolled in about 9pm as we were back at Mike's and we dozed (at least I did) while watching games.

Saturday morning we aspired to start earlier, but red Rock bikes didn't open till 9 so hondo and I ran out at 845 and for $75 I rented a nice full suspension bike, very glad we hand brought bikes for everyone else.   Finally on the road, we made out way toward Zion and wire Mesa loop, a 7 mile loop I and researched on the mtb project app from 1230 to 230 of my sleepless night (who knew psuedafed keeps you awake, oh ya, jb)..   I chose it due to being shorter than the Mesa ride And it's mix of tech and flow portions... AND the nice bail out option of a dirt road intersecting the midway point.  Jb and remembered the road to be very rough if we went in from one direction and the mtb app confirmed that.  Unfortunately we chose the wrong direction and we're confronted with an impossible climb just a few miles after the pavement ended.  Undaunted we saddled and locationed up and walked out bikes a Mike up the steep terrain then to a nice easy role to the trail head.  Found out at the TH the road is graveled the other direction.  We headed west? (To the right of facing TH) where we were told the more tech portion was along the edge of the Mesa and an easier climb before the Sandy rolling portion.   Wasn't long before we realized several in out party were going to be able to navigate the Rockier portions, greatly slowing the pace, but they seemed to maintain good attitudes, even as Christian took a spill delivering shoulder rash like Katie's from the day before.   The drone was launched and eventually we made to the halfway point.  The climb up marked the end of the more technical section and all enjoyed the smooth Sandy roll down to the mid point.  Here we took stock and decided jb and hondo would carry on and  I'd lead the rest back to the bisecting road which wed missed.  I figured it be an easy Ride which it was, dumping us back at the TH in 13 minutes, but I was concerned they'd not find the road which did take a bit of Bushwacking to locate.   Very happy to have the mtb app for Intel and knowing where you are on the train, great gps, trail map combo.

Due to slow ride and longer drive, we're back at condo after 5.   Jbs crew headed out to green valley so Reagan and Noah could climb.  Katie want shopping with Mike for BBQ supplies.   Typical Mike, it was a feast and we had a gourmet burgers, fruit and chip feast, joined by his golfing buddy and former nfl player Halbert and his son.  Ball games and food after a day of biking and sun we watched snow cranes glide over the 9th hole while   (I know, I know, I sound like flipping Rutherford).

Sunday Christian and I went to church, hearing a very odd home coming talk.   We headed up to snow canyon and climbed down the lava tube.  I was wishing we had time to climb as the park (cast $6 to enter) seemed to boast several long 5.8 or 5.9 routes.  But time didn't allow.  We headed back to Mike's at 1:15.  Cleaned up and headed to kannaraville falls.   Wouldn't be a bad little jaunt if there weren't 75 or more  people with the same idea.  Travis, Morgan and Christian had gone on ahead to afford time and we met them coming out as we went in.  Once the canyon closed and the only way forward was on the water you realized how cold that water was.  We made it to the falls and standing on rocks to get feet out of the water watched for several minutes as hoards came down the latter, finally deciding to abort.

Stopped in  ceader city eating panda wok as we watched unc come back and bear Arkansas on jbs phone.  Stopped again in sypio  (DQ was closed again!) For fuel and snacks, watched south Carolina thump duke and with the typical ribbing, joking and political discoursing I was dropped off in Orem at Christians house  (Travis having ridden with the girls) and the "summer of George" had official begun.

(Written on the plane back to nc)... What's next?!?!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Blood in the Snow

Seven inches of snow fell over Friday night and into Saturday morning.  Although I slept in, we did rise early enough to get out and walk a local green way through the undisturbed majesty of a fresh white world with flakes still falling.  Because these events are rare in NC, they are therefore cherished.  Meanwhile in Northen Utah, Pablo had shoveled feet of snow from his walk way for the 3rd of 4th time already this winter and it had him in a foul mood.  How could he fulfill his dream of the pro surfing tour in this climate?  Either way, there is something about December, January and February- the dog days of winter that cause the unguided to ramble around their dwellings, wearing expensive puffy down jackets and with bleary eyes, watching old trip vidoes and pining for the next adventure- well, at least two us do, the Mule hides in his "shop" making wooden gear boxes for 15 passenger vans and Mikey, well, he is soft serve Mikey.  

I have a pack of kids in for the holidays and we play and have a great time, weather is nice that week and although we'd talked about hitting some private water, the day planned blows like a nor'easter and we end up laying over in Asheville for shoe shopping (girls) and gear shopping (boys) instead of casting.  My kids ask how JB and his family are doing, "Uh, I don't know- one of them got married I think...."  "Don't you like text each other every day?"  "well ya, but we don't really talk about family and work and stuff.."

There in lies the tell, if they are astute enough to see it!  We are brothers of the trout, brothers of the hike, brothers of the gear and everything required for minor and major adventures in the out of doors and the rest of our lives are generally left to our own devises.  A few more years and maybe the Mule will learn that.  It's not that we don't care (especially if these things get in the way of a trip) it's just that we got bigger fish to fry honey!  And the winter dog days bring that into crystal clear focus.  So, like two sports talk guys debating the most inane aspects of weather Kyrie Irving is more important to the Cavs than LeBron, Pablo and I thoroughly vet equally important issues during our dog days (and most other days as well).

Well.... I lost my train of thought- I'm certain I had some provocative and creative way to tie this into some Hemingesque narrative, but it's gone!  Probably the same dribble I always deduct and conclude in these dog day ramblings- so just go read anything from Jan- February the last ten years.  I just got to write, it's cheaper therapy than buying gear I don't need and I get fewer snorts from the wifey than watching video's of trips gone by.  So, as old Hemingway himself said, "there is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed"  

Bleeding feels good when it snows. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Of Obsession and Lists

Is this an obsession?  As the summer wears on and it gets closer to go-time, I’m always surprised at how AK starts taking over my life… Every activity and thought is measured by, “will this have any impact on AK?”  Don’t work out too much, might get hurt and mess up AK.  Compulsively check the salmon run- ya it’s updated every three days, but I still check it every couple of hours.  Can’t schedule any important meetings during AK weeks or really a few days before cause I’m already checked out….Got to find time when everyone is gone so I can make the movie….review every list and research gear options early so make sure there is plenty of time to buy, test, return, repeat… The other night as I was eating a bowl of cereal and thinking about what else I needed to prepare, I stared blankly at the TV, some movie was on with Steve Martin and the blond guy with the big nose (Owen Wilson) and Jack Black.  Almost imperceptively I began to understand it was about a group of guys that were obsessed with birding and what they would do to see the highest number of distinct bird species in a single year.  Owen Wilson blew off his wife’s ultrasound and ultimately left her for a snowy owl that represented the world record.  Hmmm, that is obsessive, but that’s not me….is it?

Let’s leave the obsession discussion and just dissect what is going on…  In my life of 100 things to do on multiple to-do lists and constant planning, evaluating, judging, discussing, deciding- I seem to always be looking forward, looking to the next thing on the list.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s just modern life- responsibility.  Only in wilderness are there moments, minutes, hours and maybe even days where all my thoughts, feelings, and intentions are focuses only on that moment.  Time stands still- there is nothing else in the world, just this place and this moment.  I become attuned to details- the color and texture of the rocks, the layers of current around me, the simple tools of my trade, birds, insects, specs of transparent string, the texture of dry rabbit fur.  So much of my life seems to be inside my mind, living in my thoughts except here, where my mind turns inside out and the outside world permeates all thought.  All of the world around me is totally oblivious to my presence.  Except for a few landed trout and the occasional intrigued bear, I am irrelevant.  This has been here for a million lifetimes and will be here millennia after I’m gone.  I am temporary.  All around me is permanent.  This truth is peace.

So I tell people I am going fishing in Alaska and they think of tricking a fish to bite a hook so you can eat it or take a photo with it, brag about your skill and mastery over it etc.   Which is not even in the same universe as what I mean.  Experiencing an ancient natural process- standing in the middle of it- seeing its beauty, pondering its integrated complexity, smelling its finality, hearing its brutality in the distant scream of a cub, and holding its magnificent power with your cold wet hands- even for just a moment- knowing you’ve paid the price to slightly comprehend Gods creation- eliciting reverence, humility… joy.  Last week I did have a conversation with a friend who also loves the wild and as we talked about my trip- we communicated on that deeper level that comes when you’ve gone into the wilderness enough that it has gone into you.

Another friend was surprised that this would be my 9th pilgrimage.  “Don’t you want to go to some other awesome place and catch other exotic fish?”  I thought about that for a minute, “Ya, I suppose I do-“ and then I gave him the “rationale” for why I’m going back to the same river basin; cost, have it figured out, world class fishery…. But really I’m developing a deep connection with this particular place, the familiarity is both comforting and enriching.  To not go starts to feel like a betrayal.  This wilderness has given me so much, how can I leave her for even just one summer?  Yes, I do want to cast to other species in other places- but that seems like it might lead to a list.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Returning to the River of No Return

A true fisherman plans his outings around the best likelihood of success. The mad fisherman takes any event and decides while he is at it, he might as well fish.  So if Reese were the son of a true fisherman, he'd have planned his wedding during peak cutthroat season- AFTER run off, but he is not, he is the son of a mad fisherman.

I was astounded that as we debated the water volume and the weather, neither Pablo nor the Mule recalled the exact same debate no less than two years ago when we decided to damn the torpedoes and hit the winds in September and were aptly rewarded.  So when Pablo took his characteristic position, "I don't know, water is high and weather is $&^%", "I'm with you boys" was Hondo's sharp analysis, so as usual, it was left to the Govna to exercise rational thought, concluding, "well, if were just going to be hanging around I'd rather do that in a tent in the river of no return wilderness listening to rain on the tent fly than on Pablo's couch pouring over maps of drive to fishing locations."

At O-dark thirty on Thursday I heard Hondo roll in.  As expected, his meticulous planning and forethought had begun no less than 8 hours prior and he'd packed all night, but was in good spirits given the spousal adjudicative discourse which had accompanied said packing.  But that is all part and parcel of the Mule's load.

So in the Honda CRV we headed to Salmon Idaho where we'd gain entrance to the Frank Church Wilderness and a week of unknown experiences.  The ride was long, 4 hours, but enjoyable as Hondo shared his latest wood working exploits and Pablo wallered around in the back seat trying to find a position that wouldn't aggravate his slowly healing back., causing us all to wonder exactly how he was going to hike 20 miles in some of the roughest terrain in the lower 48, but then again, I've seen Pablo cast to rising trout while giving birth to a son and a daughter.

The ride in from Salmon was marked with gathering clouds and fits of light rain.  As the river appeared we were elated to see it's rocky bottom- at least we were past chocolate milk stage, but we could not discern the volume.  It was thrilling to be back in this wild and rugged place and as we strapped on the bags, we were greeted with a flurry of wet snow flakes and a thick orange marmot scrambling for cover.   Spirits were sky high.  The roar of the river soon joined us as we hiked through the steep upper section, pausing to peer at the swift current, pocket water and massive log jam.
Upper Section
 We took one quick break at a deep pool where Hondo broke out his new rod and from a down log platform smoothly launched a few dry casts into the back eddie across the current and against a steep rock wall.  A couple of good swirling drifts with no rise likely signal no fish in the hold.  We carried on to the meadow camp just below beaver creek.  A beautiful campsite.  The years of expeditions together has created a well oil team as we set up the camp with little or no direction, but effortless and even joyful cooperation.  Once set up, we all marched down stream to prospect.  For some dumb reason I kept following Pablo, down, down, down river hoping it would spread out and open up, it never did.  Even the less bouldery areas where too heavy to wade and didn't look promising for fish to hold.  On the way back I hit the wall, lack of sleep, fatigue from the 15 miler in Muddy Creek Chute 400 miles south in the San Rafael Swell, sapped my energy and filled me with doubt and despair as I stumbled back to camp.  Apparently Mule had "walled out" much closer to camp and a few hours earlier as we found him sleeping in the tent.  An early night was in order, all cares lost in the constant din of swift water.

As typical, our hope was back up with the sun and we packed up and decided to make our way to Monumental.  The hike was marked by a playful arm in arm crossing of a very cold and rather swift tributary, and occasionally prospecting, but I don't remember much fishing until we hit the milky confluence of Monumental.  I do remember being in that mental gray area that often settles on you during a hike, where your mind is calm and almost dreamy while your body works, and I stepped on a loose rock and took a tumble, turning my right ankle pretty good, so I was some what hobbled as we kicked around confluence camp.  That evening we built a nice fire, surmised our various survival tactics if ever finding our selves on the reality show naked and afraid and to demonstrate my firecraft, I banked the fire to see if I could reignite it the following morning, which I did.

Setting out to fish in the morning, JB was able to find away across the river and fished the seam at the confluence, hooking a 30" class steel head that came to eyes, but no to hand- curses of fishing a 5x tippet.  I had my first taste of success down stream as I mentally broke the river down into smaller sections and began finding and fishing micro channels and seams along the edge and took 7 cut's in one run, all on a bright orange hopper.  With those successes stoking our enthusiasm, we  broke camp and began packing down river, pausing much more often to fish the accessible waters trail side and having some success,but still thoroughly enjoying the day.  Some where in here JB found a drowned black bear cub caught up in a log jam and lifted it's lifeless body from the water with a stick.  He commented several times of how it saddened him and how equally unforgiving wilderness is on her permanent and temporary residents. 

Coxy Hole Journal Entry
It became a long hike as Hondo was unspecific in his estimations of exactly how many more 1/2 mile segments we'd have before our next camp site at coxy hole.  After a small climb behind an outcropping, we spotted the Coxy Hole, a dramatic bend in the river with a picturesque campsite high above the river.  Despite our fatigue and growing clouds, I decided I wanted a bath. so slid down a steep slope to the waters edge, a less than ideal balancing act on a little rocky ledge framed by a garden of stinging nettle.  Although professing my insanity, Hondo and then Pablo joined.  We expedited tent set up as the skies darkened and with a few scout drops we dove into the tent expecting a good deluge, but with in a few minutes pitter patter ended and we were able to come out, eat and enjoy a nice evening although fairly fatigued.

The next morning began with a climb around the downstream point of Coxy Hole with steep jagged drops to the water.   The burn damage gave way to more live spruce and pines accenting the sheer cliffs and scree of the rugged gorge.  We seemed to fish a little less today as we hiked, although did find some really cool little runs behind boulders- amazed at the cuts rising with abandon from heavy water to take or refuse the big hoppers and foam terrestrials.  Few fish were taken, but no piscator seemed to mind, satisfied by the beauty and exulted in the solitude.

The Cave
As the day progressed we came to a spectacular cave, teasing our imagination with formation theories.  Shortly after the cave, the canyon began to open up, the feeling of the river evolving from north west steel head gorge to Montana cutthroat meadow.  We had never been this far down river, in fact everything below the monumental confluence was new.  Although we tried to imagine the river at lower stages, after decades of expeditions we've come to appreciate the chase as much as the catch.
About 1 we came across a single man tent and trash bag bear bagged.  We surmised it to be the "military wannabe" we'd heard about in Salmon.  JB tried to navigate some steep drop to the water and took some good jabs hacking through brush and trying to stay out of the water.  I barely missed a great take (on video) as I sat perched on downed tree that jutted out over the river ravine.  I don't think we fished much after that and as the day wound down, again we were tired and eventually came an incredible meadow where Big Creek made two huge swings with a couple of braids.  Sky's were blue, the son hot- bath time again.  JB moved down river, saying he took trout on the hopper at the edge every time the sun was out.  We all wadered up and moved up stream.  Again, the fish were sparse and current limited access.  JB came upon a rattler basking near a downed log.  We used the tent as a sun break as we dined on our final dinner and retired early.  Our minds wondered to the pick up tomorrow and wondered why the large flat meadow was not a permanent runway, as it showed signs of previous use.  The climb the following morning up cabin creek was quick and easy although our intel that the runway was on the downstream side of the cabin, caused us to back track slightly.  We were joined by a crew of young rangers who had be maintaining trail down stream from cabin and were hitching a ride to civilization for the weekend, one of the guys was from Brevard NC, a Western grad.

We all commented on how the ride reminded us of Alaska, spawning day dreams of other potential trips as we explore this and other means of access and transportation.  Although the fishing was poor, the comfortable comradery, excellent weather and exquisite wilderness, left us no regrets for returning to the river of no return.

The Meadow

Monday, May 16, 2016

Getting the Nak

So I've only been once.  Pablo thrice, Softserve Mikey, hundreds.   The breathless emails (OK, I don't know how an email is breathless, but it felt like it) have now become real time texts with photographic evidence.   Mikey loves the Nak, he just does.  He's had some days there that rival only his beloved Goodnews of yesteryear.  And his love makes him blind.  Blind to the horrific wind, blind to sleeping on a dirty garage floor next to Uncle Ed's greasy boat motor, blind to millions of fishless casts in the shadow of Treefon's cabin, blind to being busted for no license (Lisa).   To me she is a big tease.  I've seen the pics and heard the tales, but my day there consisted of more hours huddled against the bank hiding from the wind, as flailing an eggsucking leech.  JB will have to speak for himself. Ya, if it didn't take 20 hours of butt busting, back aching flights, the expectation could be lowered, but it does and I'm not ready to back, not yet.