a stroll along the pigeon...
Two hours later, I was remembering the Bible quote - "Pride goeth before a fall". Those two hours had produced nary a bite. I was beginning to think that I would be eating dried jerky for dinner. Jerky is not exactly my favorite dinner entrée.
I had thrown everything I had in my fly box at the fish, with no takers. A couple of times, when I sat on the bank for a short break, I even found myself eyeing the forest floor for worms. Luckily, for the sake of my fly fishing ego, nothing suitable for bait made an appearance.
As the day wore on the sky began to cloud over and the breeze picked up strength. It began to look like the cold front the weatherman had forecast was going to arrive a day early. I hoped I was wrong, but continued to keep an eye on the sky as I fished.
The old saying about a silver lining in every cloud proved true within an hour of the appearance of the first clouds. Either the dimmer light or a sudden urge to eat before a storm seemed to trigger a feeding spree for the trout.
The brown trout I had caught earlier was the only fish I landed in over three hours of fishing. Once the clouds covered the sky, I caught four fish in a twenty-minute span. The fourth fish was sliding back into the water when the first raindrops hit the back of my neck. It turned into a downpour before I reached the bank.
Camp was only a short hike back upstream and I made good time moving along the bank of the stream.
Thankfully, I had returned to camp earlier in the day and moved the air-dried clothes and sleeping bag into the tent. At the time, I was more concerned with ticks and bugs getting into them than I was about rain. If I'd left them out until the rain started, I would have had to spend a miserable night huddled in my tent.
Ever spend twelve hours in a small tent by yourself? It gets boring very quick. It was possible to read at first, but the light faded quickly and I found myself lying on my back staring at the roof of the tent for several hours. About all I could do was lie there and think.
Dinner turned out to be some jerky and a granola bar washed down with purified stream water. The only light I had was a small flashlight, not really suitable for reading, although I did try for a while.
Before long the rain eased up a little from the original downpour. It sounded like it might last for quite a while. I don't really know when I drifted off to sleep. I do know that when I awoke during the night, because of a full bladder, that it was still raining. I struggled into my parka, braved the weather for a couple of minutes, and then crawled back into my sleeping bag. I was back asleep almost immediately - a side benefit from all of the exercise I had gotten the last two days.
The next morning dawned cold, wet, and gray. Breakfast was the last granola bar - strawberry, if I remember rightly. I packed everything inside of the tent and then crawled out to face the day.
Ten minutes later, I was striding down the trail towards the car. The hike back would take at least four hours, not a pleasant prospect in the rain.
This day found me plodding along with my face turned down. There were no animals moving in the forest and no birds flitting among the undergrowth. There was just the wet forest, the rain, and the trail - for hour after hour.
For entertainment, I kept running the events of the last couple of days through my mind. Surprisingly, by the time I reached the car, I was looking forward to the next time I could get away like this.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the encounter with the elk. To this day, whenever I am in the woods and hear a twig snap my thoughts flash back to that encounter. In my mind, I can see the tips of his antlers glinting in the sun just as clearly as I could on that day, five years ago. The vision of a wild bull elk standing only feet away is burned into my memory for life.
Copyright © John R. Allen 2005
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