Yawning and stretching, scratching parts we do not mention desperately working toward that first sip of black gold; the nectar of the gods squeezed from a bean and into my cup. It would have been easier to stay at the inn but for some reason, my soul was screaming for simplicity.
Unzipping the flap to the tent is equivalent to the opening of a present at Christmas. As I step outside into the pale landscape like an artists canvas yet to hold any color, I light the campfire and get ready for the day. There isn’t any hurry, anxiety to get to the waters edge, it will be there when I get there. Therein lies my comfort with my pace.
Chap begins to stir and it won’t be long before the memories begin but for now it is just me, the waking world and my Creator. It is this short pause that I crave away from everyday life that refills my soul and gives me drive for another round of life.
Before long, Chap is up and the thick cut, apple wood cured bacon begins to crackle in it’s own juices. The coffee pot is percolating as I whisk the last few eggs into the bowl that in minutes will be the staple to this breakfast.
It is not yet eight o’clock but the sun is beginning to rise higher as I ready my day pack with the necessities for the hike into the falls area of Crabtree. I like to travel light, freeing myself of the sometimes burdensome, unnecessary weight of a fishing vest. The day pack allows me to carry everything I need for a day on the water sitting conveniently between my shoulder blades without obstructing my casting.
Old guiding habits being hard to break, I rig an extra flyrod you know, just in case. I like the freedom of fishing wets or dries with the simple swap of a rod rather than cutting the tippet. At my age and eyesight, continuous knot tying is not an option. I have even gone so far as to use a series of loop to loop connections to build my leaders instead of direct knots. I found that this makes it easier to create my leaders and quicker to assemble.
This venture is a blue line we have fished a few times over the seasons. Each trip was with Chap though I have taken my wife and daughters there once. It is one of those waters that Chap and I refer to as “combat flyfishing” because to gain access to the water at some points is like cutting your way through a jungle.
The brook trout and wild rainbows make it worth while though. If you can fight your way through the tangles and contortions required to reach the water, your reward is a fish of the highest quality. Fish size being relevant to stream size, a monster brookie may be 12” long with a sagging belly. A wild rainbow may be 14” but the skin is a golden hue and charcoaled with age.
Casting is all but nonexistent; if you can’t execute a bow and arrow cast while resting in a crouched kneeling position, you are going to be a spectator.
The falls at crabtree are a beautiful sight. Over 70 feet high and awe inspiring. It is not a hike for the faint of heart, but the slow, methodical casting and the consequent catching cures the ache from the hike back out, and there will be pain, lots and lots of aches and pains. But it is nothing a campfire dinner with a backdrop of the setting sun, great conversation with a river brother and a $20 cigar can’t cure.