Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gone Fishing...

Sometimes, not writing can be as powerful as sitting in a chair for 8 hours spilling our deepest thoughts onto the page.

At 8:30am on September 26, my daughter and I went to her school, Polaris Expeditionary Learning School, where we loaded up all our gear, 21 middle and high school students, 2 teachers and 3 parents (including me) into 5 vehicles and headed to Kremmling, Colorado for a week-long fly fishing adventure.

The winding Poudre Canyon led us to the top of Cameron Pass. The yellows, oranges and reds on the trees turned more vivid the higher we went. It some areas, the groves of aspens seemed to be glowing, showering us with bright colored leaves as we drove through. As we traveled over the pass, the colors intensified and took our breath away.

After one stop at the Moose Visitor center, we arrived at our destination, Grand River Ranch (a private property) four hours later. The students, well-skilled at setting up camp, went to work. (I, on the other hand, had the privilege of being able to set up my cot in the heated, nicely decorated, complete with bathroom and running water, day-use cabin).
Fly Fishing School

Then it was off to town for fly fishing school. Kyle, the high school science teacher, who also moonlights as a guide for St. Peters Fly Shop in Fort Collins on weekends and in the summer, plunged right in and taught students about leaders, tippets, the parts of a fly rod and of course, flies. It was then time for them to put their fly rods together and practice casting (without a hook at this point).

Casting Practice

While they were busy with this, I headed to the Kremmling Mercantile to pick up the necessary supplies for a big pot of homemade chili. Back at camp we all enjoyed Frito Pie (Chili, Fritos and cheese). With full stomachs we set out for the river. As we approached, the kids talking turned to whispers, then to silence and all we heard were our footsteps and the river.

Kyle got in the water and gave us a river anatomy lesson, teaching us about riffles and pools and typical fish behaviors. In the middle of the lesson, a bald eagle flew overhead on his way back to his nest. We all watched in awe.

Around the campfire that evening, after all the students had went to their tents. The five of us adults talked about the plans for the next day, while the coyotes serenaded us.

Enjoying coffee and the sunrise
I woke up the next morning before the sun and before anyone else to get the coffee and breakfast going. This is my favorite time of day and being in such a beautiful location made it even better. The eagle flew over again on his way to "work" and I once again marveled at his grace.

The view from the Deck
After a morning of practicing roll casts on a small lake, the kids were ready to give the river a try. They all wadered up, grabbed their rods and the 4 groups spread themselves out in the river. Then for the next three days, they followed the same routine. Eagle, breakfast, fish, lunch, fish, eagle, late dinner (with one of those mornings being spent catching, counting, measuring and weighing fish with the Division of Wildlife and with one evening being cut short for a group when a student made had a brief bear encounter).

So what does all of this have to do with writing? A lot.

Even though I wasn't writing, my brain and senses were filling with new experiences, sounds and images that will be embedded in my memory forever and can be used in my future writing:

Delaney Fishing
  • Watching my daughter display great fishing skills on the river with her beautiful casting and effectiveness in stripping the line as the indicator floated by.
  • Listening to the sounds of the river for hours on end.
  • Sharing the excitement of the kids as they caught fish.
  • Being outside in the fresh air for 5 days, away from my computer
  • Enjoying the fish stories each night
  • Learning a new "language" (roll cast, tippit, leader, surgeon's knot...)
  • Sitting wrapped up in a blanket on the deck after everyone went to sleep and looking at the countless stars while the river provided the background music.
  • Experiencing a profound sense of calm.
Writing doesn't always entail sitting with pen and paper in hand or tapping away at our computer. If we are paying attention and being in the moment life can be our muse.

Kyle and Delaney
Delaney and Luna tying on a fly

The whole gang
Another view from the deck


Dean K Miller said...

The volunteer trip to help with, if there ever was one! Beautiful setting, great kids, and fishing too? I'm registering for classes this week!

What a great week for you, and for the kids as well. Camp Mom of the get my vote!

John Paul McKinney said...

Kerrie, I'm envious. Thanks for sharing this. Great pictures, great reminiscing. Sounds as though you were able to combine your role as "chef" with time for reflection and renewal. Great combination.

Jenny said...

Great post, Kerrie. What wonderful mother/daughter/muse time!

Jerry Eckert said...

I believe that, just as photographers see light differently, writers see Life more intensely than others. I'm so happy for you. What an experience, and so well lived.

Patricia Stoltey said...

What a great experience. I hope you get more trips like that. Sounds like a wonderful way to shed a little stress.

Catherine Denton said...

I love this! And it's so well said. Stepping away CAN be the muse. I get most inspired to write or paint after being out and about in nature.
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Kerrie said...

Thank you all for stopping by and letting me share about this amazing trip.

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