Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hemlock Cathedral

The morning fog was lifting in the mountains and the sunlight had began to filter through the trees. I turned off the asphalt highway onto the gravel road. The only other vehicle in the parking area was an old International Scout, so I took a few minutes to check it out as I slung my pack over my shoulders and grabbed my hiking staff, and then started walking.

I walked for a few minutes, and up ahead, I saw an old man and a dog. The man was sitting on a big rock, and his dog was just standing there beside him. The old man looked to be in his seventies, he had a wild grey beard and a floppy hat and glasses as thick as Coke bottles. His shirt was unbuttoned to his navel, and had white chest hair and a gold rope chain hanging out.

"Beautiful day, ain't it?" he said.

"Yessir."

"Looks like you're headed to the top," gesturing at my pack.

"Guess so," I said, "You too?"

"Nah, this is enough for me. But I can't think of a holier place to be on a Sunday morning than up here in these mountains."

I was relieved that he wasn't going any further. I didn't want anyone finding out where I was going.

"Nice talking to you," I said as we parted, then I pushed on.

A while later, I cut off the foot trail and made my way through the laurel hell to the creek. I tried my best not to leave any clues as to how to find the place that I was headed to.

When I got down there, I unpacked my six-piece flyrod and box of flies. The smallest Adams I had was a size 18, so I tied it on. I tried not to cast any shadows on the water and keep myself concealed as I approached the water.

Thick hemlocks and rhododendrons shaded the branch, keeping the water dark and cool. I gently dappled the fly on the water's surface and gave it enough line to drift down into a small pool. Just the slight twitch it made when I touched the line with my fingertips was enough to get one of the native Brook, or speckled trout, as we call 'em here, to pop my fly, and pulled the fiesty little devil in by merely lifting the rod tip. I held him in my hand just long enough to admire his greenish back and mottled red and yellow specks on his sides.

He fled back to the shadows, and I just sat there a spell, looking up into the trees all around, and listening to the water gurgling over the rocks. The old man was right, I thought, there is no holier place.

2 comments:

  1. The eyes of a native trout nearly grow outside the body , so beautiful and so small !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, 'big eyes' I heard a fellow call em one time. Most people don't know they exist. That's probably a good thing though. Thanks, Pudd'n.

      Delete