Thursday, November 19, 2015

The View

“Is this going to be a hard hike? I don’t want to do a hard hike.” Gracy’s friend, Teri, announced as we neared the trailhead to Snow Slide Lake. 
“According to my book, it is considered a 'thigh burner'.” Gracy said, looking over to the back seat where her friend was sitting.
“I don’t want a thigh burner. You guys tricked me...” Teri complained, but then gave it a second thought... 
“You're lying to me...” She said, her voice getting higher in pitch as she convinced herself into thinking it was going be an easy hike.  
“You are just trying to scare me.” Teri concluded, and looked over to Callie, for reassurance, whose was also sitting in the back. 
“Don’t look at me, I’ve never been on this hike.” Callie said quickly, her eyes wide and flicking from Teri to Gracy. 
“Well I don’t want to do a hard hike today.” Teri concluded, and sat back in her seat as if the decision was final. 
“Okay, it’s an easy hike then.” Gracy said, but Teri didn’t miss the hint of sarcasm in Gracy’s voice. 
“Easy?! Easy meaning easy, or easy meaning hard?!” Teri asked Gracy, but shot Callie a look so sharp it could cut a diamond. 
“E, is this going to be a hard hike?” Callie asked me, getting herself out of the middle. 
“Yes. This is a 1.3 mile hike that is considered strenuous because of the steep trail.” I said bluntly. 
“Noooooo!” Teri hollered, making both Gracy and Callie laugh to see their friend so distraught.    

I personally didn’t know what would be worse: the steep hike up to Snow Slide Lake, or having to hear about it from three women who have no problem letting the world know how much they may dislike something. As usual my anxiety got the better of me, and the hike up was not too much of an issue. Gracy knew what she was in for from the beginning, Callie was looking forward to a strenuous hike, and Teri, despite her meltdown in the car, was looking for a fun adventure that she could share with her dog, Basil... And Basil was happy that our little dog, Kiwi, was coming along, even if Kiwi, the little brat, didn’t share Basil's enthusiasm.

When you are the only guy in a group of women that feel comfortable around you, the conversation can go south quickly. 
“I want my next hike to be on Jug Mountain.” Callie said, stepping up the steep path. 
“Our friend, Mike, said there is a big loop you can hike, and you can see a few lakes on the way.” Gracy said, slightly out of breath.  
“Whatever...” Teri said, “Callie just wants someone to climb her jug mountains.”
“Hell yeah!” Callie said, “These jugs are single right now.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Callie. You do not have jugs. You are what we would call athletic-sized.” Teri said, while I kept quiet like any sane man would do.   
“Whatever, Teri, it’s not like you have any room to talk.” Gracy blurted.
“I never said I had jugs.” Teri said, “I have...” Her voice trailing off as she thought about it.     
“Boise foothills?” I blurted out to finish Teri’s sentence, and her mouth dropped as she turned to look at me. 
“Aaaaaaaaaah ha ha!” Callie yelled, “Teri has foothills!” 
Gracy started laughing too as Teri turned my way and raised her hand, but it was not to slap me. 
“Oh my God, Erik, that was funny!” Teri said, keeping her hand up for a high five. I quickly gave her a high five, and after that we stopped to take a quick break before we headed the rest of the way to the lake. 

Gracy let out a little snicker that almost sounded like a chipmunk before she said, “Teri has foothills.”  
“I think that should be her new nickname.” Callie said, as she turned to continue hiking. 
“At least my foothills have a man. You are single.” Teri said bluntly.
“It’s true.” Callie said, then turned to me. 
“Erik, do you know any single guys that are interested in hiking and fly fishing?” Callie asked. 
“I’m sure I do.” I said.
“Hold on!” Gracy interrupted, “He also has to be over 6-feet so he is taller than her, has a good job so he is not a loser, and would eventually like to move to McCall someday.”
“I don’t know about all that, but if you want we can make a fly fishing-profile-dating video for you. I did bring my Go-Pro.” I said.
“Heck yeah, let’s do it!” Callie said with a new spring in her step. 

When walking up a steep trail, one of the best moments of the hike is getting the first glance of the lake. For me the first sight of the lake brings a whole new surge of energy, because now it is time to fish.

Both Teri and Gracy found a nice log to kick back on, as I videoed Callie putting together her fly rod. We quickly made our way to the lake and flicked out our flies, but nothing was interested. 
“Do you see all the frogs here?” I asked. 
“Yeah, they are everywhere.” Callie said. 
“I had to keep Basil from eating them.” Teri said, as her and Gracy came over to check out the lake.     

“I don’t see a single fish rising.” I said, as I flicked out my fly again.
“I’m not seeing anything either.” Callie answered back.
“Well, that means it’s time to go for a walk.” I said. 
“Like, around the lake?” Callie asked. 
“I’m down.” Callie agreed, and we took off.    

"Let me get some video of you hiking around the lake. It will look as if you are willing to go the extra effort to catch a fish."
“Hell yeah, I’m willing to go the extra effort!” Callie said with confidence, and I brought out the Go-Pro for more footage.

We came to an opening on the bank that would allow for some decent casting. Callie walked out on the fallen tree trunk, and flicked her fly into position. 
“Right there, right there!” I said quickly, as a small fish came up and took her fly. Callie had seen the take too, and had her rod lifted as I was yelling. 
“Dang!” She yelled, as her fish came unbuttoned. 
“It’s still hungry.” I encouraged, and Callie kept fishing.  

“This is going to be a sorry excuse for a video if you don’t catch a fish.” I said, as I switched off the camera and started fishing. 
“I know, right? Who would want to date me then?” Callie asked. 
“Not me.” I said, making her laugh. 
After several more attempts, and a lost fish, we decided to push on to the next spot.  

We had now almost walked the entire lake with nothing to show for it, and Gracy and Teri had walked in the opposite direction we had gone to meet us.
“Anything, Callie?” Gracy asked. 
“I had a bite, but it got away.” Callie said. 
“How about you?” Teri asked me. 
“I had one on, but it got away before I could grab it.” I said. 
“So none...” Teri said, putting her hand on her hips, “I thought you were suppose to be this great fisherman.” 
“Quiet, Foothills.” I snapped. 
“Oh snap!” Callie said with a smile.   
Just then a big gust of wind blew over the lake, making it that much harder for us to get a fly out. Callie was having trouble combating the wind, and she handed me her fly rod so that I could make a decent cast for her. WAM! A fish took, and I set the hook before I had time to hand Callie back her fly rod. 
“Here, take your rod.” I said, handing it to Callie while I grabbed the Go-Pro.      

Callie fought the fish while I filmed her bringing it in. Teri and Gracy watched with anticipation as Callie grabbed her fish and brought it up for a picture. 

“Does that really count?” Teri asked, “I mean, Erik made the cast.” 
“Yes, it counts for Callie. She would have made the cast if it wasn’t so windy out here.” I said, gesturing toward Callie. 
“Yeah!” Callie said defensively.
“We have a video!” I said happily, after Callie put her fish back into the lake. 
“Hells yeah!” She said happily, then put her rod away to hang out with Teri and Gracy. 
While the three of them stepped back and away from the water’s edge, I started casting where we had hooked into Callie’s fish, and immediately got another take.

I had looked up the stocking report for this lake before making the hike, and couldn't find any info on it. I have discovered that this usually means there are brook trout in the lake, and after another one caught, I figure that theory was sound. 

It was nice to finally find the hot spot on the lake, but a bit discouraging that not too far away was where I had started the trek around the lake; and if I had only gone left, instead of right, we would have gotten into fish much sooner.  Still, I do like hiking around every lake I go to, if I can, and catching a few fish was a nice way to end the day.

When you hike up a steep trail, you certainly get an idea of how steep the trail really is as you are heading back down. It is easy to lose your footing on the small, pebble-sized granite rocks that can sweep you off your feet in a fraction of a second. As we took our time selecting our footing down the path, Callie stepped on a larger rock she thought was secure. The rock gave way and Callie was able to catch herself from slipping as the rock slipped from under her, and started rolling towards Teri.

“Rock! Teri!” I yelled down to her, and I watched the rock slowly roll down the path. 
“If you send a rock downhill, and there is someone there, you have to yell ‘rock'.” I said to Callie but there was no real danger in this case, because the rock was slowly tumbling down like an awkward slinky. Teri stepped to the side as the rock slowly lobed its way by her feet, where it stopped and toppled awkwardly on her toe.  

“CALLIE! Your rock is crushing my toe!” Teri yelled up in disbelief that the rock had stopped on the edge of her shoe.
“That’s crazy!” Callie yelled. 
“I can’t believe it rolled the whole way down and stopped there.” Gracy said, laughing as well. 
Teri stood there patiently as we all made our way down to get a closer picture of the rock on her foot.    

“Is that thing even on your toe?” Gracy asked, after taking a closer look.
“Not really. It’s mostly on my shoe, but I can feel it a little on my toe.” Teri said, and then slipped her foot out from under the rock. Together the four of us made our way down to the car, and with no more incident to speak of.  

“Well that wasn’t so bad, huh guys?” Teri asked, as she took off her pack to place it in the back of the car. 
“What?! You bitched the whole way up!” Gracy said, as she got in the front seat of the car. 
“She bitched before we had even started hiking.” Callie reminded us. 
“What? No... I was just preparing...”  Teri said, failing to come up with a better excuse. She shut the back cab, and got in the car so we could head off the mountain. 
As we pulled into McCall, Gracy looked over into Ice Cream Alley and convinced everyone we needed to stop.  When we discovered Ice Cream Alley was out of 90% of their flavors, we crossed the street and order milkshakes from My Father’s Place. 
“Nothing like burning up lots of calories, and them packing them back on with a milkshake.” Callie said, after ordering a large
“Well, here’s to a productive day.” I said, holding my milkshake up as a salute to the day. 
“Here here.” Teri said, and the ladies lifted their milkshakes up to cheers the end of a fun day.

After a few weeks of editing, here is Callie’s fly fishing/dating video. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Friend From France: Day 3

“It's nice to finally meet you.” Gracy said, shaking hands with Eric Bacon for the first time since he had arrived at our home.
“Yes, it is nice to meet you too.” Eric said back. 
Gracy explained how she thought I had made Eric up as an excuse to go fly fishing for a few days in a row, and Eric chimed in with his own theory...
“You know, I thought Erik had made up having a wife.” Eric said, smiling at me. “I wasn’t sure if he was just saying he had a wife to try and look normal...”
“And then he will kidnap you when you least expect it?” Gracy said, to finish Eric’s sentence.
“Yes!” Eric said laughing, and they both looked over at me.
“I’m not sure if I like that both of your theories involve me being the crazy one.” I said.
“You are the crazy one.” Gracy added. 
“Crazy about fly fishing.” Eric said, adding a nice cushion to Gracy’s sentence.  
I lifted my tea mug up to salute what Eric had just said, and Eric returned the gesture. With our gear packed into Eric’s Jeep, Gracy and I piled in to head up to McCall. The three of us had an interesting conversation about the cultural differences between France and the U.S. in regards to social living and politics. The topic was so interesting that it made the trip up to the trailhead seem short, and before we knew it we were on the trail to the lake.

“This is so beautiful!” Eric said, pulling out his camera for a picture.
“You came here at a perfect time, because all of the trees and bushes are changing to their fall colors.” I said, stopping on the trail for Eric to snap a picture.  
“Sorry.” Eric said, as he turned a few degrees to snap another picture, then again to snap another.
“Don’t worry about it, we have all day.” I reassured.  We started walking again, but only made it another fifty feet before Eric stopped again to take more pictures.
“I am sorry, this is just so beautiful.” He said, snapping a few more shots.
“This is nice, but wait until we get to the lake… if we ever get there.” I said with a smile.
Gracy was following just behind us with our little dog, Kiwi, as we continued our hike.

“So, so sorry…” Eric said again, stopping and pulling out his camera to get a shot of the brilliant fall colors.

“All if my pictures from this trip have been fish pictures only, until today.” Eric said smiling. “It will be a nice change when my kids see the photos.”
“Gee, I don’t know what that’s like.” Gracy said, glancing at me as we started walking.
“Hey! I take nice pictures.” I said back.
“Of fish!” Gracy said.
“True…” I said with a smirk.
“I am the same.” Eric said, stopping again for a few more pictures.
“You go first.” I said to Eric who was just behind me.
“Yes, the lake is just up this hill and I want you to see it first.” I explained.
“Okay!” He said with a smile, and Gracy and I followed until the lake came into view.  Eric stopped walking, looked over at Gracy and I with a smile, and pulled his camera out of his pocket.

The one thing that can grab the attention of any dedicated angler is a rising fish, and when we saw the ripple of one next to the shore it didn’t take long for Eric and I to slap our rods together and start fishing.

Gracy and Kiwi continued over to the far end of the lake to sit on the big rock that offered a nice view, while Eric and I slapped our flies down around the border of the lake. My fly sat motionless on the surface of the lake, and after a few seconds I gave it a little twitch. The small commotion enticed a cruising fish. With the clear water, I watched as the fish switched directions to dart towards my fly. The bright bronze color of the fish became more noticeable as it rose closer to the surface, and its mouth opened to take to my fly.
“There’s one!” I said, lifting my rod tip to set the hook.
“Nice.” Eric said as he glanced over, but then went right back to fishing.

I brought out my camera to get an underwater shot of the fish after it had tired a bit, and I took several shot to ensure a good photo.

I was back to fishing as soon as my fish kicked away. Eric had gotten a hit but was unable to connect with the fish. I was having that same problem after that first fish. Every time a fish came up to eat, I felt the slight pressure of the fish before my fly sprang out of its mouth. We both felt that we had fished these spots enough to move on.

Eric had his camera out again, and was taking picture as we walked to the next spot to fish.
“This is so beautiful.” Eric said, gesturing to the lake.
“I’m glad you like it.” I said.
“Everything is perfect. I hope you know how good you have it here.” He said, taking in his surroundings.
“I have not been to many places away from home, but I know that this is where I belong.” I said back.
“That’s good.” Eric said, as we approached a spot to stop and fish.
“You take this rock, and I will go over there.” I said, pointing to a small spot to stand just a bit further away.

“Good luck.” Eric said, and we went back to fishing.

I pulled out my leader to start roll-casting out into the lake, when I saw a small rise near where Eric was fishing.  Eric quickly readjusted his cast, and sent his fly out where he had seen the rise. I watched in slight suspense because I really wanted Eric to hook into a fish here. Just then a fish rose, and Eric ripped his line up to set the hook.
“Yes!” I said, and ran over to get some video of Eric bringing in his fish.
“I love fishing the U.S.A.!” Eric said with excitement, and I quickly stuck my Go-Pro under the water to get some video of his fish.

“This is a very beautiful fish.” Eric said, as he tried to get a hold of it for a picture.
“There it is.” I said, after Eric got a hold of his fish and held it up for a picture.

Eric set his fish into the water, and it shot off so fast that it was almost startling.
“Fast as a snake!” Eric said to me, “And you know why.”
“Yes.” I said, remembering our run-in with the bull snake at the South Fork the previous day.
“Where did Gracy go?” Eric asked.
“She is over there on the big rock with Kiwi. She has our sandwiches if you are getting hungry.”
“We will fish over to her.” He recommended, and we started on our way.

Eric and I caught a few fish as we approached the big rock, and when we got there Gracy was happy to hand us our snack for the afternoon.

“1, 2, 3…” Eric said, pointing at the camcorder, Go-Pro, and still-shot camera I had on me for the day.
“Do you always take this many cameras with you?” He asked.
“No, I have these cameras so I can take video of you to remember your trip.” I said.
“He also makes videos for his dad.” Gracy added.
“Yeah, my dad loves watching videos of my brothers and I fly fishing.” I said, “Are you ready to start fly fishing again?”
“Yes, but I want a picture of us at this spot.” Eric said.

“Yes, of course.” I said, as Gracy took Eric’s camera and mine to snap a few picture of us.

It wasn’t long after we had casted our flies when Eric hooked into a fish. The process of bringing it in was more complicated than the fight with the fish itself. In order to land this fish Eric had to shimmy around a pine tree that blocked his way to the water’s edge. I showed up quickly to grab Eric’s fly rod as he handed it to me to get around the pine tree. I quickly handed it back, and Eric was able to bring in the fish.

“This is a perfect way to end my fly fishing trip.” Eric said, after we had fished our way back to the trail that would lead us to the car. 
“I'm glad you enjoyed coming out here.” I replied. 
“Yes, this is definitely something I would have never done myself.” Eric said, pulling out his camera to take one last shot of the lake. 

As we hiked back to the car, the sun had repositioned to light up the hillside far more brilliantly than on our hike in, and there was no way Eric could pass it by without a few more pictures.

“So much of my trip is pictures of fish.” Eric said, as we hiked out, “So far I have over 150 pictures of fish and rivers of my trip. Today, I took over 200 pictures, and my family will be happy to see something other than fish.” 
“I did the same thing when I went to my first alpine lake.” I said. 
“Oh, look at this!” Eric said, stopping on the trail. “The dead trees surrounded by the grasses, pine trees, and yellow colors is exactly what reminds me of the American North West.” 
Eric snapped a few pictures then stopped to breathe in the fresh air of Idaho’s backcountry. A smile grew on his face as he looked over my way... “Okay, I am ready.” 

Kiwi led the way as we continued to walk out, and it wasn't long before we had reached the cars to end the day. 

We all had a beverage of choice waiting for us back at the car, and it was a welcomed treat after a day in the backcountry. On the way home we plugged in Eric phone to listen to a playlist his son, Tom, had created for him. I was surprised to hear that Eric was an enormous fan of American metal music, and when the electric guitar started whaling over the speakers in the car, Eric's face lit up. 
“Yes! Now I feel at home.” He said as we met his smile with our own, and I turned up his music for the rest of the drive home.

I am very happy Eric took me up on the offer to stay at my house to finish off his fly fishing trip to the U.S.A. He spent four days with me, and it all flew by so fast. The new techniques I have learned from Eric will be adopted and used in my own ways from now on, with the idea that I will only become more diverse in my ability to target and catch difficult fish. Before catching his plane the next day, Eric offered me the opportunity to tie and sell Jacques's Magic Fly at Anglers. 
“To have his fly sold in an American fly shop would be a great tribute to Jacques. It would have made him very happy.” Eric told me, handing me a few to copy. I promised Eric that I would let anglers know about Jacques and his magic fly when they buy it, and how and when to use it. Eric was satisfied by this, and I will be sure to send him other people's success storied when using the magic fly. So until next year, I say au revoir to my friend Eric, and await for his return next year. 

A small fly fishing video I made for Eric fly fishing in the U.S.A.

P.S. The recent attack in Paris had me thinking about Eric, Christian, and their friends and families. I am happy to report that Eric and Christian were both out fly fishing and they, along with their families, are ok. I was relieved to hear my friends were ok, but my sympathies go out to so many others who were not so fortunate. #PrierpourParis