A Wild Faith

This morning I woke up about 5am. Couldn’t get back to sleep. Tried to sleep in to an hour fitting for a Saturday but nothing for it.Instead about 6:15 I hit the road.I’d packed the night before. Four part fly rod, a little box of flies, reel, a few leaders.On top of the usual: backup layer for cold, windbreaker, extra socks, gloves, a knife, compass, a few other survival items, granola bars, water, bear spray, sketchbook and pencil, throwing knives.I didn’t use the pencil or the throwing knives but the extra weight builds character.I gassed up the jeep and coffeed up me and hit the road in the dark. No traffic. I wound my way up the Forestry Trunk Road and turned up Waiporous Creek. I don’t head North all that often which is part of why I’m going this way today. My go to getaway has been the Millarville side of K Country of late. Time to shake it up.Last time I went down this road I had my lovely wife with me. We hiked up to the fire lookout, found fossilized conifer needles, and swam in the creek. I already missed her on the drive, the music we play, holding hands on the road, our secret jokes.But sometimes you have to go out on your own.Sometimes you hear the Call of the Wild and that’s a different day outdoors than a day with a wife, a friend, a group of friends. And I’d been hearing the Call a while now.I parked when I was equal parts raring to hike and sick of getting bounced around on the road. Doublecheck to make sure no lights on. Go time. Heading West up the braided channel of the Creek. There is a layer of frost and I put on another layer.I’m not familiar with this creek at all and the water doesn’t look too friendly to fish. I cross the Creek and up into the woods. There is no plan now. Just sheer exploring. I don’t know what ahead or where I will go. The peaks of the Rockies are roughly to the West, the Creek cuts a straight line to my North, and I can see the fire lookout shiny on top of a hill. The sun rises over the hill behind me.I follow game trails, some thinning into nothingness, then scanning over to find the next trail, bushwhacking over deadfall. The forest is evenly made and not too thick, my guess is a fire 40 years or so ago, the soil relatively thin this close to the creek. The forest opens up into a meadow to the South. I follow an old quad track for a ways. With any luck I may find a nice shed in the meadow.I hear it before I see it. A creek. I get closer. A creek twists and turns through the meadow. It has a nice level of clear water, pools. I’m amazed there is a creek this close to Waiporous Creek running almost parallel. I put the rod together and rig up. I stalk up to promising looking water. I drop my fly in, let it drift with the current, pick it up, try again. I can’t see any fish visually. Move up the creek to the next seam. Nothing. I snag a fly on an underwater branch, lose it, tie on another. Onward.I am feeling a little disspirited that despite the promising water and the most scenic stream you ever laid your eyes on I am not getting any action, or even seeing anything. I walk a ways up and try again. Such a nice pool below a little logjam. Nothing. I pack up the rod. I slosh across the creek and aim for the hills to the South. Perhaps I can cross over into the next drainage.I climb up an old cutline. Near the top of the hill the trail deviates around where the cutline is blocked by deadfalls and overgrown. The forest here is ancient, it has not been logged, it has not been burnt in a long time, the cool, wet, north facing hilltop. It is a forest of wisdom, tangled with massive fallen trunks and undergrowth, the fresh forest below naive and uncluttered.On a ridge I hit another cutline. The way further South seems like a tough slog. I turn west along the cutline, uphill. Then downhill. Across another boggy meadow. Along a stream too small for fish. One last little meadow.The last time I was anywhere near here, was with two friends in early February 2007, the day before I flew to Rome. We were young and fit. We ran up the Creek and across not this exact meadow but one like it, one last meadow before the mountains. We ran up an old trail, slogging, the snow up past our knees. We turned around. On the way in we ran into some goofy snowmobilers from New Brunswick They were cooking up some deer meat, and offered us some. So we stood around the fire and ate with these friendly folk. Somewhere there’s a picture. Then we ran on.I’ve turned back. Instead of following my exact path I try to take the path East. I go up and down and up and down two big hills. I don’t see anything promising heading back north, and the woods look thick. I double back towards the way I came in.I hate doubling back. I am thinking about work. I am out of the ecstasy of pure exploration. My feet are a little sore. I haven’t been hiking enough. I’m hungry. Was this hill this big on the way down.Sometimes this year I just wished I could get out of this year, like it was somehow cursed and in some way connected to the calendar. Just like now, should have just gone the straight way back. But there were also such incredible blessings. A car accident, covid, a family health emergency. A wonderful new niece sent by heaven, Baptism, my Wife on the other. I thought of a friend who passed last week, it felt like a light went out, and yet that light will never go out will it, it’s still here in us isn’t it? It’s not this year, that’s just life, everywhere always the same though we try and figure it out with the limited tools we have, imagine saddling this complexity with ‘what a year!’, NO.Ultimately it’s a matter of vision, of faith. The one creek is empty, but there is another. It looks good but it too is empty. You get snagged. You move on. The leap of faith is not so much knowing that there is another good creek beyond the horizon but that it doesn’t matter if there is or isn’t, and that either way it’s a perfect day.I am back on the right track. Back through the ancient forest and down. I cross the creek, sit for a moment, drink some water, eat a granola bar. I watch the water, the grass on the bank in the wind. I walk along a quad path and pick up the stream well below where I tried it before. I rig up the rod and try again.

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