“Freedom to roam, and explore are the currency of boyhood, and we took every opportunity to spend it”
I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old, way back when hair was longer, and shorts were shorter. My father bow-hunted every year, and my young mind was fascinated by the deer he would bring home. It was one of these trips into the wild mountains of Utah that forever cemented several of the many obsessions in my heart.
A young coldboremiracle, circa 1984
It was a scouting trip into the high Uinta Mountains in the late summer, that destined me to be a junkie of sorts. Dad and a couple of friends were on a scouting mission, checking out the deer population and general conditions on the mountain. I was lucky enough to be towed along. I cant say for sure, but I believe I was the only kid that received the honor.
Junior enjoying the beauty of the Uinta Mountains
Times were different then, simpler and less apprehensive. As a kid, I was happy just being there. All it took was a slice of Mom’s applesauce cake, and a Shasta to keep me happy. Surrounded by the beauty of those mountains, carpeted with forest trees, and never more than a short walk from a stream or river, how could I not be in heaven?
My Father and his friends would leave at times, hiking off into the hills to find the best spots, and leave salt rocks pulled from the Great Salt Lake. I’d like to think that my Dad knew what made me tick, I think after all, that we were cut from the same fabric. He’d hand me a fishing rod, and a box of flies, and leave me to it. It could have been hours or days, I couldn’t tell. The time I spent drifting flies and wetting my sneakers passed without my recognition. Even then, my little eyes squinted and focused on the prize, unconcerned with anything beyond my casting radius.
Dad had given me some modest direction as how to catch these vigilant little fish, but it was trial and error none the less. What Dad had made look so easy seemed so hard to me. I kept after it until I had become proficient, and one after another, the little trout found their way into my hands. Satisfaction was my prize, the feeling that I was part of this wilderness. I would sit there, on a large rock to the side of a noisy little brook. My damp hands holding the fly-rod as the evening drew nearer, even in the summer cold air is never far away.
These deep rooted memories, based on senses, became the building blocks of my passion. The profound colors of a native mountain trout, glistening in the sunlight with an almost three-dimensional glow, so beautiful that a camera can only scarcely do it credit. The smell of mountain blossoms drifting on a cool breeze, or that of the soft soil broken underfoot, black and damp with fresh vegetation thriving throughout. The quiet soundtrack of the forest with chirps of bird and squirrels echoing through pine trees, with a gently running creek mixed in. These and many other effects forever cemented the alpine forests at the top of my home element. And there is no better way to enjoy these beautiful wilderness’ than floating a line.
six degrees can make fishing more an obsession than a sport
This fall, I was able to return again to one of these beloved places with not only my father, but my young son as well. Sharing these beautiful experiences with my son, has made them so much more cherished. Much the same way my father did for me, I tried my best to let Junior feel the freedom of this beautiful landscape on his own. Wandering along a grassy creek, drifting a fly through crystal clear fishing holes, learning to watch his shadow and rod tip. Freedom to roam, and explore are the currency of boyhood, and we took every opportunity to spend it.
When nothing else can, I know what will light a fire in his smile, as both he and I are definitely cut from that very same fabric. We come from a long line of great men who also enjoyed being part of nature’s dynasty. I can only hope that his memories like mine, only grow brighter with the passage of time. And maybe if I’m lucky, someday share these same majesties with him, and his son. What memories could mean more?
Uinta Mountains Brook Trout