During the night the cold air set in. The Eureka Apex tent was set up before dusk in under 5 minutes and angled so the cover would deflect the wind away from the door openings on either side. The 10 degree sleeping bag was cozy enough to strip down to the minimal undergarments and remain completely comfortable. The cold air did not bite at my lungs, rather it was more refreshing the way a winterfresh Lifesaver is.
A couple of hours before sunrise a light pitter-patter began to tap on the tent cover. Then it increased in intensity. A full unforgiving rain had set in. I checked my boots that were positioned underneath the cover’s wind break and they remained dry. I thought to myself as I rolled over in the sleeping bag that the one sure way to count on rain is to camp out in a tent.
Morning started late due to the rain but the long day before demanded a little extra sleep anyway. By mid-morning the rain had dissipated and I was ready for the expedition ahead. I double checked the items in my Alps Outdoorz Pursuit backpack to make sure I had what I needed and I remove what I didn’t. As happens most of the time, I did not remove anything. The gorge had deer and bear, both of which were in season, and the river had trout, therefore the bow and the fly rod was coming along. I had a full water bladder and with the low temperatures overnight it was as if it were straight from a fountain. I carried extra batteries, a light, food and a single propane burner.
The hike down the mountainside was a couple of miles. I felt the hike down would be no problem even with the 50 pounds strapped to my back. I also knew the hike up would be much harder so I wanted to time the way down and allow for that time and a half for the hike back out. I was already warned not to get caught there once the sun set. “If you are still there when darkness comes, you better be prepared to stay overnight,” were the words of wisdom.
The hike down was beautiful to say the least. When there wasn’t scenic overlooks in which I could view the area, the underbrush and tree canopy provided a tunnel of peace. At times the path consisted of a small ledge with loose rocks where the nearest thing to get a handhold was the top of a tree from the slope below. Not a small tree mind you, but one of aged timber stretching for the heavens.
And there, after the hour trek, was a sight of unbridled beauty. The mighty Linville flowed around, over and beneath stonework carved by the hand of God. It played music as it weaved its way that Mozart and Beethoven would only hope to mirror. Upriver lay a large pool with varying depths. I gazed at the glistening surface and adjusted my sight to catch a peak of what was below.
Trout camouflage well with rocky bottom rivers, as well as flounder do on a sandy ocean floor. But I caught the movement and verified that it in fact a trout. I prepared the fly rod. This was my journey’s quest. I presented the fly into the pool and watched as the trout fluttered about beneath. Every once and awhile I would see one dart up on the attack and reap the reward of a well-placed lure. Mostly though, this was a trip to cleanse the soul rather than reel in a fish. It worked.