Had the southerly crew up for the weekend, my friends from LA and Phoenix who needed a good dose of Montana Time. They flew in Friday a.m. and by early afternoon they were hooking up with bass and sunfish while my girls swam in the lake and jumped off a dock.
That evening I cooked marinated elk chops and a couple ribeyes, along with some corn on the cob doctored up with some smoked salt that a writing phenom from Whitefish turned me onto. All precluded, of course, by some salad and, oh, two or three Maker’s on ice. Morning came quick but we got out of bed and made a 10-hour slog down the Bitterroot River.
Early? Yes. Big fish sipping spinners. Then it got downright hot. Not a cloud in the sky. And swimming took over. Must have swam two or three miles of the river, taking infrequent and short breaks to, err, hydrate. Pulled the boat off after dark. That’s when the boys said, “Do you guys have Taco Time in Montana?” Did you say, Taco? “Taco Time? Yes. But why?” “Because we don’t have them in LA or Pheonix and it’s our favorite fast-food.” Half hour later we’re grabbing a bag of nine crisp burritos and a bunch of guac and so-cre. Couple hours later and the boys are spent, along with their “guide” and sleeping fast.
Sunday. Seven a.m. and we’re at it again with Cuevas making steak sandwiches, Knudsen humming something from Frampton Comes Alive and asking, “Should I bring these neoprene wading socks or wear wool?” Zan the Man is just getting up and saying, “How far are we hiking?” He’s in high school, stud QB, with workouts starting in two days. The last thing he wants is a dinged up ankle.
Far as we need to, Zan. Which wasn’t too far. But it got us into a beautiful canyon, away from all, with native westslope cutthroat in front. First pool and Zan lands the first trout of his life, a gorgeous 14 inch, deeply colored cutt. Cuevas is up next and he gets the same result.
Over the next six or seven hours we hopped boulders, scaled cliffs, climbed over logs, and wound our way over rockslides and through the brush before finally calling it a day. It was a long slog over the same wild turf to reach the truck. Battered a little, but not bruised, and no broken ankles. Solid day.
When I think about the boys’ whirlwind trip and the kind of country they visited in relation to their fast-paced, professional city lives, I know they will hold this memory for a long time, if not their whole lives. I have to live this kind of adventure life every few days or my body goes into withdrawl. But for some people once or twice a year is enough. And that is cool with me. My friends may not be back here physically for a while, but they’ll be here in spirit for sure. And now, when I say something like, “You should see the Trico spinnerfall on the Bitterroot,” or I say, ”A beaver slapped its tail about three feet in front of my face,” or I say, “You won’t believe the size of the bull trout that ate a cutthroat off the end of my leader,” they’ll have a better understanding and they’ll be able to visualize a place and say, “Ah, I get it. I see it.”
Thought you would enjoy a couple pics from the trip.