Through a downward slope of chaotic meanderings, water tumbles over stones millions of years old where the basalt has been polished to glass by the traffic. Traffic without stop lights, where jams are managed by toppling over one another. But here, alas, respite. 6,000 vertical feet to go.
The journey of water is nearly as mysterious as the fish who reside within it. Maybe the water melted from a glacier stored thousands of years ago. Maybe from rain or snow. Maybe this is it’s first journey to the ocean. I almost feel bad for flinging droplets of water to the shore from the back of a fly who’s weight is nearly measurable in ounces. Those drops evaporate and are carried east to slower, probably less desirable water. Maybe that water will get the chance to flow here again, after it makes its way around the world. Not in my lifetime though.
The rhetoric and the mystery continues with the fish. These pike reside in class 5 rapids. Pushed to the edge of their ability and they thrive, giving credence to “what doesn’t kill you”. As a human fishing for the brutish beasts in the destructive terrain, the words should be changed to, “if it doesn’t kill you”. It wants to, and every chance it gets, it will. Fitting that pike would be here to live in harmony with the chaos and destructive force of this mighty divide in the earth.
The pike here aren’t as few and far between as one would expect. They are concentrated in great numbers and more aggressive than any other pike in the world. The only place to my recollection that a pike would eat after being caught. A place where you have to wait for the second take to be prepared enough to set; or by the time you set from the first take, the pike has already eaten your fly a second time. A place where if you talk to someone, you’ve already missed three.
We forget about what it takes to survive. Our buttons and knobs that complete simple tasks lead us to believe that a fish can be an annoyance, a nuisance. What it takes to survive here is more than what us humans can muster. There are no prepackaged meal plans here, no heaters, stairs or escalators. No mechanized tools of survival or assistance from ones who can. Just a fish that has all the cards stacked against it in a place where the water can rest on its journey to who-knows-where. Alas, here we are.