In the summer of 2010, three friends set off on an adventure of a lifetime. With only a British Columbia backroads map book and the ability to read, we hit the road for uncharted waters. There was no rhyme or reason to the trip, other than the fact we wanted to explore new rivers and drink a few beers. However, this trip turned into something special. I found waters that I had never expected and made memories I will never forget.
As the darkness approached on the first night of the trip, we meandered down a gravel road in hopes to find a place to lay our heads. We had no idea if we would find a suitable campsite and our light was slowly running out. We crossed a rickety wooden bridge and found an old 4×4 trail to turn down. I couldn’t believe my eyes as the end of this trail brought us to the most unbelievable back-country camping spot. This hidden oasis contained handmade tables, a toilet area, and even a shower hanger. Plus, we were right next to this beautiful tributary, whose coos had the ability to lull even the toughest of sleepers into slumber. With our gear unpacked, we shone the flashlight at the map book and noted we were on _________ River. We hadn’t even planned to fish this river, but we were here now.
The next morning we walked along the deep green swirling pools of the river bank. We rounded the corner to find the most pristine fishing pool I have ever encountered. A large tree stretched along the deep portion of the pool, and every few seconds a trout nose would appear for its morning meal. We stood in awe of this pool, for not one of us expected such an unbelievable sight along this small river. This pool became known as cutty corner, as each visit in the proceeding years has produced a number of sizeable cutthroat trout with the odd massive bull tossed in here and there. We continued down the river bank finding pool after pool and fish after fish. Eventually ending at a quiet and unseeming pool, which a friend lay a perfect cast upon. Suddenly, his rod was bent to the hilt and line began to scream. I think he might have started to scream too. Turning my head to watch at his rod made a quick snap, while watching my friend slump into a blithering lump of sadness. His giant fish had made off with his fly and from that day on he named that fish his nemesis.
We got back to camp and packed out our gear, hoping the next dirt road would lead us to similar fish and adventure. Turning just past the big Pepsi sign, we made our way up and up. The road started to get rough and potholes soon lined the path ahead. We teetered along this thin veil of road that looked down upon the valley below. The road meandered left and right before finally coming to a T-intersection. Right or left, a decision that always determines how a trip can turn out. Right. This was the turn we had to make. The road was straight and less demanding than the trip up. After what seemed like an eternity, we found a pull off and climbed along a slightly weathered trail. As the bush thinned, an enormous pool emerged in front of me. Cutty after cutty rose long the giant boulder situated on the far side of the pool. I tied on a large orange stimulator hoping for a take. As this giant and bumbling fly rocked along the water, the surface was suddenly broken like that of an explosion. The fish was hooked and the line began to run. It wasn’t long before a large cutthroat was in my hands and my elation had peaked.
We eventually made our way back down the road, past the T-intersection and towards a small stream that flowed into the main stem. We set up camp and settled in for the night. As we cooked our predominantly frozen steaks, it became apparent that we had not brought any spices. No salt, no pepper, nothing to help add a little flavor to our food. I see the lights turning in my friends head and he suddenly remembered he had an old bottle of lemon zest under his truck seat. Well, of course, we coated our half burnt, half frozen steaks in the lemony and clumpy spice. To add insult to injury, we had forgotten any cutlery or plates to eat upon. So here we are, eating terrible and lemon covered steaks… in a dog bowl, using pliers and a pocket knife to eat. We were Gods among men.
In the morning, we got on our gear to hit the small trib we camped beside. Last night’s lemony meat must have made its way through my friend as every so often we would hear an audible “toot” or “freeeert” coming from where he was. After a few hours of fishing we made our way back to camp to peel off our sweat soaked waders. Suddenly the air became toxic, as hours of farts finally had been released from the thick neoprene my friend had dawned. The smell was overwhelming and soon the term atomic waders was born. He had A-bombed those waders and they were never the same again. The stench would linger for the rest of their days, always having a faint hint of stink.
Eventually we left that river and headed back down the mountain side. We were forever changed as something deep within me had awoke. It might have been the zesty steak or the stinky air, but those few days turned on an eternal need to fish. This was the start of my madness, my addiction that needs a weekly meal to be quieted. The next part of the trip took my friends and I to a spot considered by most sacred. However, that story is for another day.