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Started by rbaileydav, April 15, 2008, 15:46:17 PM
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"The Clearing" (the picture part)
I woke from a dream filled with the birds from Disney's "Song of the South", only to realize that I was hearing the lively chatter of real birds. Well to anyone that has spent much time in the woods that normally means what??? ... no rain !!!!!! That thought had me tearing out of my tent in a heartbeat ... either that or all of the water I had drunk last night to wash down the hot sausage from dinner had me tearing out of my tent ... either way I had a lovely morning vista of large drops of water suspended in the branches of every tree, refracting the first direct rays of the sun into millions of shinning diamonds like I was staring at icicles hanging from the tip of each tree... yet the weather was already feeling comfortably warm. Could it be the cursed luck of the trip so far had turned? The boys were already up and stirring around in their camp across the river.I was a little worried as I remembered last nights conversation about going home early and was momentarily scared that they were gonna make me head home but sighed with relief when they cheerfully waved
" class="fancybox" data-fancybox="topic">" title="" alt="" class="bbc_img" loading="lazy">(and unfortunately yes mine is the goofy looking one in black)
They struggled into their waders ... I mean my waders ... and grabbed rods, trekking upstream to start their days fishing.......
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Guess that means I get to stay another couple days and that thought lifted me out of last nights funk like the sun had lifted the shadow of the clouds. I grabbed my rod, and grabbed my vest... my cold dripping wet vest ... ... and just couldn't put it on so I stripped to the true essentials; an extra leader, frog's fanny, gink, a spool of tippet and a small fly box and shoved them in my pockets. Let me say right here and now after being guilty of "over vesting" for 30 something years... ... anybody that catches me on a small stream for wild fish with a vest on ... ... can cheerfully kick my tail because I had everything I could ever need for this situation with a tenth of the weight and none of the bulk. I will add a small water bottle holder belt for future trips but I will save my vest for larger and more technical rivers. Anyway after two full days of rain here I was comfortably heading out in a t shirt, wading pants and wading sandals. As I rounded the corner of the trail to the big camp site my mood just shot up another notch or two as I thought of the fact that I didn't have to join these poor guys in a long extended hike out of here with packs still soaked from last night's rain. We said our good byes and I watched them load their packs on their backs
It would be tough enough to leave this beautiful place on this beautiful day after two solid days of rain
But to do it with the worlds tallest backpack would have been down right painful. I felt sorry for them for 15 or 20 ... ... seconds and headed up FS trail 64A. For those of you that don't know about the dreaded 64A, it was one of the last trails layed out by the Marquis De Sade ... ... after he really got good at this torture stuff. Not only does it climb straight up but the switch backs are constant and designed to make you cover tons of ground and gain tons altitude but not really go anywhere. It also bends you around in practical circles. When I finally reached the top of the mountain I stopped to enjoy the moment and to capture some of the scenic beauty from the top of the North Carolina Snowbird Mountains and also to hopefully let my lungs catch up to me as they had jumped from my chest about twenty minutes ago and were walking themselves up on their own so they didn't have to drag my fat ass along.
I have another reason for posting this picture, there are those who might be inclined to believe that I am too old and too fat to make it up that trail............ so here is proof to those in the know ... I made it. That's twice now, I must be a glutton for punishment. The day was turning warm by the time I got to the water. But the day and the water were gorgeous
And it got even better from there, as for the second day in a row my first cast of day with my usual yellow stimulator drew a slashing strike from this little jewel.
As I released him back into the cool crystal water, I couldn't help laughing out loud while wondering how my friends with their 50 pound backpacks were progressing on their hike out of the woods. The next few hours were a mix of trying to decide which is prettier the scenery ...
Or the native specks.........
Twin brother a few casts later
Now some of you cane guys out there may have noticed the rod in those last two pictures so I want to take a second and talk about this particular rod. I have been lucky enough to have several rods that were built by good friends of mine but this one is the most special because of who it honors. When my Father died in June of 2004 he had a "slush" fund for his personal use which often meant for his fishing trips, my Mother was nice enough to donate that fund to me. I had a friend of mine Gary Lacey build this rod with this stream in mind ... ... but most importantly I had him inlay my fathers initials "RND" into the reel seat in sterling silver. That means that even though he has been gone nearly 4 years I occasionally am able to take the "old man" fishing one more time..... if in spirit only it makes me smile to know that some part of him is with me as I hop from hole to hole on a picture perfect day.
And this was a picture perfect day, I caught fish out of the back of every likely looking spot around. The fish count was twice as high as this dumb Arkansas boy can count and I even had my toes free for use cause of my wading sandals. This was one of those days that I just couldn't stop smiling.... And sometime giggling out loud like a little schoolgirl with a crush ....... What a beautiful day on a beautiful stream with a beautiful rod catching beautiful fish .......... And even a beautiful waterfall to take a picture of on the hike back home.
As I rolled back into camp I couldn't have been happier ... that is until I heard the story of how the bad luck had chosen to strike again. It seems that one of Ricky's friends had been wading close to him when he stumbled on a rock and reached out on a sudden impulse to grab the closest "limb" breaking it as he caught his balance ... and you guessed it ... the limb turned out to be the tip of Ricky's magazine gorgeous Schliske bamboo rod. Oh well Matt, guess you will be seeing that one in the mail soon... as they say "if they made em they can fix em". The "shelprock" just won't leave us alone. But even that unfortunate event wasn't enough to dampen my mood as I sat on the now dry and safe "bridge of death" smoking a great "1926" Pardon and sipping on a little .... Care to guess ... ... Woodford and a splash of "branch water" ... watching the beauty of the sun setting behind the mountain side turn the water into flowing mercury, shimmering and gliding up from the ground like a well of magic.
I sat there as happy as I could be till my belly began to growl and I decided it was time to eat. I hate to admit it but the night we cooked steaks for the gang I had been holding back a little and had managed to save a pair of giant filets for myself. I let the boys "talk me out of" my share of the bratwurst that were our scheduled dinner while whining how hungry I would be having to eat a freeze dried meal and snuck back to my camp site to cook my steaks ... ... I think I may like this "them in their world" and "me in mine" thing after all... ... and with these on the coals who wouldn't
As the sun set I sat and listened to the sound of the boys laughter drift from across the river. I realized with pleasure that they were having fun and enjoying having their very first camping experience "alone" ... and I got the luxury of eavesdropping and watching from a distance, throwing them some advice occasionally and if I didn't push it too hard still sounding occasionally like a father. I wasn't really out of his life after all ... I just had to learn to offer encouragement and direction ... subtly and from afar ... but I still had some influence. Maybe this would work out after all..... I fell asleep to the sound of the river uncompromised by the sound of raindrops for the first time on this trip and it was a crystal clear symphony that is music to my soul.
The next day dawned clear and an exact gorgeous copy of the previous day. I had everybody go ahead and break camp and pack their backpacks before we headed out on a little fishing time and before we had to stroll back down the mountain side. Once again the day was too gorgeous for words so I will try a few pictures.
And for the third straight day I caught a fish on my first cast. And once again jinxed myself by commenting out loud how lucky I was ... about an hour later while trying to pop a fly out of a dreaded "fly eating" rhododendron tree I heard a sickening snap and saw the rod in my hand hanging at that odd broken angle that will bring tears to the most hard hearted bamboo lover ... fortunately for me, if there can be anything fortunate about a broken rod, was that this was my back up rod a pretty little 1 tip 8 ft 1 1/2 ferrule Heddon Black Beauty not my Lacey but still a pretty little rod and the other good news was it wasn't a break just a delamination, again if that can be called good news. But that wasn't the worst news because as I said earlier that can be repaired the REAL bad news was we had to leave this brookie heaven and head back down the mountain.
The hike back out was as pretty as any hike out I can remember the fact that we were headed downhill and my pack was 15 pounds lighter might have a lot to do with that but most of it was; the sight and sound of the water rushing and foaming far below us in the gorge, the sight of the dogwoods ghosting white through the forest, the unique soft green of new growth in early spring so delicate and promising, or the sun making all of the above glow with the promise of spring.
What can I say about this trip:
Ear plugs for music on the car ride home................$10Fly-fishing supplies for three teenagers................$50Food for three growing teenagers........................$130Broken tip to a one of a kind rod.......................$150Delamination of a Black Beauty..........................$150Fishing license citations for three ($195 apiece).......$585
Hopefully converting 3 young men to outdoorsmen.........SEMI-PRICELESS
Spending Time with my son even if it was shared time....TRULY – PRICELESS
" class="fancybox" data-fancybox="topic">" title="" alt="" class="bbc_img" loading="lazy">(and yes the dumb ass with no shirt and sandals on is mine)
Great trip report and you'll have enough memories out of that one trip to last a lifetime! or at least until the bills stop coming in....
Very cool report... I hope your son does become an avid fly-fisherman. Its a one of a kind sport = PRICELESS. HAHA
sounds like a great trip. you have a way with words. wish i could see the pictures though.
Perfect!Well, except for the rain part, and the slippery bridge part.
That's some good lookin' sausage and tators!
I understand complely. My son is a senior and will be heading off to Ft Leonard Wood in July for Basic and AIT. I've got 25 years in the army and he's just starting. He came out of the blue with this enlisting thing, but I helped him. It seems like yeaterday that we were bringing him home. I hope he'll let me stand on the sidelines and help him along. That was a great story, it sounds like you guys had a blast.