We went up the Stillwater River into the Beartooth Mountains. Past Sioux Charlie and Frenchy’s meadow. Beyond Cutoff Mountain. Further than I had ever gone. Until we reached the valley where Slough Creek flows down into Yellowstone Park. Vibrant green pine saplings blanketed the earth beneath tall grey sticks the fires left along the slopes until they reached the high edges of rockslides and steep granite. When the wind blew wildflowers in the grasses swayed and made fleeting purple waves in the pastures. We were alone. I was twenty years old, and thought I knew how special it was. Knew how small I was in the mountains. How precious that time was. Now I understand it was more than I could have known then.
I knew in the time I walked the ten feet from my dorm room stairwell in Sijan Hall to his blue Land Rover that my day on the river would be cold.
There are times on the river when you are sure. From where I stood in the cold flowing water of the Provo River, I could see the water bend downstream and speed up before the bridge. Saw the rocks and white breaks beside gentle pools and midcurrents that hugged the bank walled with overgrowth. I knew that seam held fish. I was sure of it.
Welcome to Wadeoutthere. I believe there are two paths ahead of us in the pursuit of fly fishing.