Tales from the Wood
<font size="1">While the jet stream gets it's act together, here's a thread to discuss interesting and true stories from our adventures in pursuit of the finned treasures in sea, stream and stillwater.</font><!--1-->
One summer run day on the Olympic Peninsula, two friends from the east coast and I were on a river romp from the Elwha to the Sol Duc to the Hoh in search of summer steelhead. We saw plenty of fish on the Sol Duc... 'saw'. Despite our efforts, we could not raise one of these beautiful fish so were getting ready to move on to the Hoh. Heck I almost stepped on one before it took off downriver. Then by the lower salmon hatchery, a horde of summer kings in the 20 pound class crowded a rocky pool. Some would turn toward our flies but none would commit. We gave the effort hell, and came off the river at Tumbling Rapids Park. A group of vagrant-looking men had set up camp next to our vehicle. They were probably a work crew lodging at the campsite for the night from a logging operation somewhere down a windy logging road, working a harder day's work than most people could bear, and risking life and limb because the pay is good and they get to work in the woods.
We placed our Sages and Loomises in formation on the hedges and proceeded to peel back the gore-texes and performance fishing shirts, master vests, doo-hickeys and what-nots on the bench while the darkly tanned and work-worn faces watched us like a choir waiting for someone to strike a middle C. They didn't appear to move as we took care of business.
Trying to appear friendly as we worked, we were back in our summertime civies and ready for some food. The nearest town was Forks, the main town on the westside of the Olympic Peninsula. From Tumbling Rapids in Sappho we headed past the lower bridges of the Sol Duc toward dinner, stopping and looking from bridges to admire any summer steelhead we could decipher from the undulating patchworks of sparkling boulders with our polarized sunglasses as the growls in our stomachs grew louder and we hurried to town.
As we pulled into Forks, the feeling of relief of our bear-hungry pangs was shattered with the realization that we left our urban-icon graphite money-draining flyflicking wands and their paycheck sized machined aluminum cranks filled with flourescent fat line, tipped with English-loop eye hooks that are painstakingly adorned with flosses and feathers from afar, a jungle cock or a vulturine guinea fowl feather gloating about the creation's place in the echalon of offerings that are swum in the ancient domains of the same salmonids that are suckered with gobs of roe by the likes of the campers who appeared next to our parking spot in the woods... where our rods still are! OH SH*T!!!!
Screeeccchhhhhh!!!!! The feeling of leaving your wallet on a pawn shop counter came upon us as we all shared a collective sick sensation in our stomachs while the sun began to wane behind the towering trees that characterize the peninsula. Finally, our remorseful journey back to the campsite was coming to an end, as we comiserated that not only our gear but our trip was over, and having travelled 3,000 miles this was no small matter for Bill and Lou. As we heaved over the pitted dirt road back to the site, faces pressed to the front, we came to the scene.
The same still, dark faces stood in arrangement around the fire, facing our former site. We were the ones with the choir faces now, as our suspicious eyes searched the shadows for our gear as the vehicle slowed to a stop. Suddenly, a flash, a glimmer and there were all three rods, untouched, just where we had left them. We stumbled out of the van like children greeting our lost puppies, ignoring the faces that watched as we clutched our rods in relief.
Then, as if a hypnotic trance had been ended with a loudly snapped finger, the group broke into loud smiles, turned toward each other, and for the first time we saw them move around. It was clear, we were the entertainment for the evening. By their reaction, we had done a good job. One of them hailed "we were wondering when you were going to come fetch those" with a chuckle.
As I recall, one of us city boys said sheepishly "we thought they were going to be long gone". The men shook their heads to confirm that the fishermen don't steal fishing gear from fishermen. Regardless of one's perspective, it's all about honor and these hard-working men didn't lack any of that.
"Want a cold one?" one of them asked, holding up a Schmidt. We accepted the offer.
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