Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Drive

After midnight we would finish packing. Little dialog was exchanged between us after along day and knowing what lie ahead. Before departing we would stick a pair of twenties in the ash tray to cover food and gas during our travels. Such was life back then.

My partner invariably began the drive behind the wheel. His stints were always short lived. An hour or two would pass before he would be humped over the steering column, eyes a gaze barely pushing 40 in a 65. I’d put in a dip, pour a cup of coffee and take over. Sometime during the day he would comment on his state of refreshment. I never quite had that same sense, finding a mid day nap my only option for eluding the numbness that grew as the day lingered.

An hour into it our journey took us north, leaving the blue highway behind for two lanes our headlights the only luminance penetrating the sudden blackness. Through some of the west’s heartland we slowly progressed; agricultural lands dotted with cattle and neatly rowed crops lay juxtaposed yet hidden in the night. Periodically a lone light would signify an approaching farm. On nights it would rain, our travels became treacherously slow.

Sometime in the early hours of morning dawns first light would expose the Teton’s rising majestically on the horizon signifying that our drive was nearing its end. The fertile valleys were lined with rows of neatly sown crops interrupted by a smattering of small towns. Climbing from the valley floor to the caldera the landscape changed from fields to one pitted with sage, pine, aspen and varieties of wildflowers.

After camp was set, and fresh coffee was made before heading out to fish. By the time we’d reached the worn turn out, morning’s sun had removed any chill from the air. Methodically we would change; donning waders and assembling rods, attaching reels, carefully stringing the line, each lost in our own sequence of readiness. Spinners gather overhead; an orgy that plays out daily on rivers during the season. Eventually we would make the long hike through dense fields of Sage, Lupine, Larkspur and Mules Ear. For the first time since leaving there’s a sense of alertness knowing we’d soon be soothed by flowing waters and casting to rising trout.

Several decades ago “The Drive” lingered for seven laborious hours. Today, it takes a little over four, if one is motivated. Like this drive much has changed in our world. In some respects our chaotic and shortened world leaves me yearning for that period in time when life passed at a much more leisurely pace, yet one now can leave this polluted and burgeoning city behind to fly fish on some of the worlds most prolific waters all that much quicker. A trade off that I struggle to find consolation in knowing the affects continued growth will have on the west and those waters and landscapes were I seek solace. Unfortunately those who pursue such rabid development as sung by Jerry Jeff Walker "…have never seen the northern lights, never seen the hawk on the wing, and never seen the spring in the Great Divide…".

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Part of the Picture

Fly-fishing’s allure draws us from a myriad of directions. From the exhilaration one demonstrates upon landing their first fish, to the emptiness that's remains after the fish of a life time eludes the net, to the visual beauty in the surrounding landscapes where we pursue our obsessions. Amongst those who cast wisps of fur and feather there are many similarities in what we find appealing, yet the sport is such that it allows us to mold it to ones personal needs.

Over time, I’ve been fortunate to fish many of the world’s fisheries. In doing so, I’ve come to appreciate the array of physical and emotional experiences that are generated when fishing with a fly. Looking back to my early beginnings my ventures where more singular in focus. Now there are a variety of reasons that create the urge to cast a fly. In the grand scheme of things, the beauty in the sport is how it caters to each at so many different levels rendering a profusion of life experiences.

Waiting for the evening rise....

Hoping for one more...

Over the years I’ve always enjoyed trying to capture the beauty in fly-fishing through the lens of a camera. Although not a photographer, the rewards and challenges of preserving images have become as satisfying as the moment when a fish takes a fly. On a recent trip I spent as much time filming my days on the water as I did fishing. Reflecting back on a life of fishing with a fly rod I remember few if any such ventures that were as visually stimulating. It was a rare moment when one could focus on the task at hand without being distracted by the dynamic weather and visual spectacles that Mother Nature continually displayed. Although the fishing was quite good, it became only a piece of that which was impressionable.

One that Got Away......

One that didn't.....

Ducking for cover....

In a thousand words, I couldn’t describe that which daily unfolds when fly-fishing. Yet lost in such images as these are Mother’s Natures music; the sound of Sandhill Cranes off in the distance, the wind as it rustles a pine, rain as it lands upon water, the cry of a Redtail hawk, or lightning that sends you to your knees knowing such a posture still leaves you exposed. Yet they suffice to elude a mood leaving one to reflect on the beauty we are confronted with when we venture out to cast a fly upon waters that leave us with images, begging us to return.