Of Cowboys and Rattlesnakes.

Okay, so the title is somewhat misleading - I saw neither cowboys nor rattlesnakes, but I did see a cowboy hat and eight bull snakes, and the sagebrush, cactus, dust and searing heat definitely confirmed that this was desert country.

We arrived Saturday afternoon to set up camp in a raging wind storm, with dust blowing sideways and filling every corner and crevice of our wall tent, even after it was set up and pegged down. A guick casting session on the water out from camp confirmed to me that yes indeed, the wind was blowing in gale force gusts in a distinct upstream yet sometimes swirling direction. Great. Eating dinner was interesting, for if one's plate wasn't directly in front of one's body then those black flecks weren't pepper. And a mouthful of sand just doesn't do justice to that delicious potato salad. After two beer, a cup of juice and two plates of tortellini were ruthlessly wasted by Mother Nature, we sat around the campfire (which we couldn't light due to the almost guarenteed resulting wild fire) we crawled into bed feeling the tent pulse with gusts and feeling the air mattress rapidly flatten. Apparently we had a leak.

The next day was calm and beautiful, and after a lazy start to the morning my girl Sarah and I hiked upstream to start the day. After hooking nothing the day before, I had reluctantly tied on a nymph and indicator. Reaching the rivers edge, I spotted a small back eddy and nearly drooled. Off came the indicator and on went the dry. Cast, drift, strip, cast again, drift, RISE! Hooking fish consistently for the next few hours, we wandered downstream back towards camp, lost in the swirling eddies and bubbling riffles while delicately balancing on precariously perched rocks.

There's just something about those hot summer days, when the wind is warm and time is meaningless, when the rest of the world disappears and nothing else exists but your rod, line, fly and the river, and all you hear is the rush of water and your heartbeat. The sounds of trains and jetboats barely register and a boat can drift almost all the way past before being noticed. The only reason you notice the midges, caddis and stoneflies crawling up your shorts and arms is because you're trying to imitate them, and you're pretty sure you were more startled than that snake was when you hopped onto the rock it was under. Rarely do I find that rhythm for a few hours at a time, but in the summer this incredible river always provides me that escape.
Four days of fish, blazing sunshine, stars and campfires, good food, good drinks and great laughs with friends, lazy mornings and long mid afternoon swims, and one emergency cactus removal from a dog: summertime at its best.

Sarah, rocking the cowboy hat and jean skirt.

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