Skip to main content


Standing midstream, I peer down at the rocky bottom through strands of broken light, calculating my next step across the slick stones toward a deep run of swift water in the bend flowing around a gravel bar downstream. A six foot length of stranded log, at knee-height, is obstructing my path, so I choose my route accordingly, navigating my way through water barely shin-deep. 

The juxtaposition of light and shadow, early morning sun beaming through the trees, glinting off water and stone alike, and the dark pockets where current seams merge, gives a false sense of assuredness of a path laid out before me. Allowing my feet to feel their way as they carry me along, I take my eyes off the bottom for a moment and examine the edge of the run, just as I reach the head of the captured log. 

Before I have the chance to retrain my line of sight to the riverbed beneath my soles, my foot finds no hold on an oblong stone, sloped just enough to let my shoe slide the length of it, and both feet shoot out in the air in front of me, my back crashing on the rocks, and my head submerging enough beneath the wash of impact to fill my mouth and nose with water.

Somehow, my right heel comes to rest on the log, which makes my attempt to rise out of the riverbed a bit awkward. My fly rod, still gripped tight in my left hand, is not hurt, but the knuckles on that hand are not so fortunate. Neither is my backside after I bashed it on the rocks, nor was my right knee that I somehow scraped and had punctured a small hole in sometime between when my feet came out from under me, and it found its place propped on the waterlogged section of hemlock.

Back on my feet, I try to shake off the water as a dog would do, and I look back over my left shoulder to see I had a witness. The man, another angler with a wide-brim hat, looks upon me as if waiting for an encore. After about a ten-count, the man looks away,makes a short, obligatory cast, and treats the situation as if it didn't happen.

I take great care the rest of the way to the gravel bar. The water washes around the bend in front of me, offering to carry my double nymph rig along the bottom to search for the trout hiding in the deep, but I do not fish. Instead, I replay the spectacle I had created, consider the other angler's take on my pirouette and subsequent fall, and imagine what his story will sound like the first opportunity he has to tell it. 

My knee is bleeding, my leg and glute are bruised and sore. I choose to continue downstream to find a path worn in the bank to escape the river and find the paved road, so that I can get above him without our eyes ever having to meet. 


  1. Wounds to pride heal the slowest... Great post, Josh. My trail guide claims we haven't had a hike until I fall down three times.

    1. Thanks, Henry. I feel like I'm doing it wrong if I don't get a good baptism once in a while.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Fisherman Remembers Jocassee Valley

In my search for information on the history and tradition of fly fishing for trout in the mountains of South Carolina, I was extremely fortunate to have made the acquaintance of a true all-around outdoorsman and native son of the Appalachians, Dr. Thomas Cloer.  Our correspondence so far has been by telephone only, but I hope that once this current health crisis dies down, we can get together in person. When I first contacted Mr. Cloer, I didn't know what to expect. Why would he be interested in anything I had to say? But I was pleasantly surprised when he returned my call. Within the first moments of our conversation, I felt as if I had known him forever. Maybe it was the kinship felt between two fly fishermen, or perhaps it was his kind voice, warm and familiar, a voice steeped in the tradition and language of the Southern Appalachians. "Joshua, I would be more than happy to talk to you about fly fishing." Dr. Thomas Cloer is Professor Emeritus of Furman Univers

A Letter To My Father

Two years ago, this very night, you were still here among the living. You had no idea of what was to come in the early hours of the morning, but I know you had some inkling. You'd been talking about it for a while, and the Sunday before, I was told that you 'd made things right.Your mind and body were weak from fighting to hold onto your spirit, but your spirit was so much stronger, and it was determined to be set free. Your pain would soon be over, but you liked to fight, always did. You were the most stubborn human being that I have ever known, and I know that at the end, you were no different. I'm sure it wasn't your choice to go, despite all those times you cried, saying you wanted to die and be put out of your misery. When the medics had worked so long on you and decided to give up on you, your heart started back beating, as if out of spite.  I wonder sometimes what those last few hours were like for you. I wish I could've been there for you, like all the times

Love Letter

I wake this morning, to find your scent still lingering on my skin. With sleep in my eyes, I try to shake the heady buzz from the hours of being entwined with you the day before. I feel your residual energy flowing all around me. I step into the shower just to feel the rivulets of water wash over my body. You are all I can think about this morning, and I know that I will not find peace until I return to your side. I am completely, utterly, and desperately obsessed with you. When I look upon you, I am captivated. I am enamored by your beauty, by your natural sensuous movements. I follow every curve, trace all of your soft edges with my eyes, immerse myself in the rise and fall of your breath. You whisper mysteries known only to the deepest parts of my consciousness, and the narrative you speak to my heart is as old as the earth. I have watched you suffer mistreatment at the hands of so many before. You have been taken advantage of, used and abused, stripped of your purity. I