If I tried to describe some of the places we were able to witness it would simply be an effort in futility. You have to see and feel these places for yourself, let them touch your heart without anyone else's interference.
After a long, hot summer at home with few adventures comparatively; I was full of excitement and apprehension to get into the backcountry. I was worried if my legs would carry my as far as I wanted to go. I was terrified that my lack of "practice" this summer would render me a failure as an angler. I hoped I would not disappoint or be considered a burden.
I spent most of the days observing. I kept hearing "Jillian, fish!" But, I just couldn't. It's not that I didn't want to catch fish, but I wanted to really experience where I was. Memorize what the water felt like in my fingers, the way the air smelled rushing through the valley, how the yellow of the flowers matched the yellow on the cutthroat and brook trout.
We came back to a few spots more than once, each time just as special as the last.
The trout, just as eager and beautiful, we came to know.
The path down and around and back up again became familiar.
Observing the flowers, and noticing where they were in their life span compared to the last time.
This is a place one cannot simply recount to another; this is a place that needs to be felt, a world that will earn a place in your heart and change your soul.
A place I will carry with me the rest of my days.
3:30 am. I was wide awake at 3:30. The anticipation of hitting the road kept me from sleeping hardly a wink that night, despite being exhausted.
My body and soul were weary from months of monotony. I was overwhelmed by the pressures of life, with not enough mountain air for my lungs, adventure under my feet and trout in my hands. The routine was slowly killing me. My exhaustion was so great that I almost couldn't muster the energy to drive 27 hours, be adventurous.
Regardless, Jacob and I packed out little Subaru full of fly rods, a few clothes, a tent and hearts full of anticipation. At 5:00 am we left our dogs and familiarity for a two week sojourn across the US to Durango, CO.
The east coast was filled with familiarity. We counted Cracker Barrels and "Adult Superstores." We noticed how after every superstore, there was a billboard explaining how disappointed God was in us and repentance was necessary. This occupied the time well.
Nashville was overwhelming. Memphis was hot. Arkansas has horrible roads. Oklahoma was flat.
Texas has the Cadillac Ranch.
New Mexico has too many "must stop" places, none of which are very exciting at all. Trust me, we stopped.
Finally we started making our way up in elevation. The boring desert turned into pillars of freshly painted mystery. The reds, oranges, purples and blues went on forever, splattered with green shrubs, joining with the sky to form a perfect piece of art. We kept climbing steadily for what seemed like an eternity and just a blink of the eye all at the same time.
Then, all of a sudden,. we had made it! Well, almost...
We had our first look at those mountains. The mountains that, little did we know, would change us.
Jacob is a fly fishing guide with a passion for conservation and brook trout. He is an accomplished rod builder and restorationist.
Jillian is an outdoor photographer and blogger, using her voice for Public Lands and Cold Water Conservation. She specializes in trying to out fish jacob whenever she puts the camera down.