The parking lot was full. We walked by all the cars, searching for fishy stickers or rod tubes in backseats. Determining that this was a big river, we'd just driven all the way out here, and the ratio of anglers to cars was not that high, we geared up. I swapped out my trusty hip pack for the daypack, as I do on most 'hike' trips. It was filled to the brim with snacks, rain jackets, and water, with all fishing essentials pinned here and there.
Jacob doesn't hike unless there's the return of fishing, a guaranteed pot of gold at the end of a rainbow if you will. Which is why these are my favorite kind of fishing trips, I get to hike with Jacob because the bribe of trout always works.
After a few diverse miles through the Weminuche Wilderness, we spotted the 'you're allowed to fish now' sign. From up on the trail Jacob spotted a flash in the water. Looking from the boundary line to the fish, and back again, we made the executive decision that this fish was, in fact, on public land and if we stood from this exact point, we would be breaking no laws. Two casts later I watched that bamboo rod bend in half, frantic splashing and an overwrought angler trying desperately to keep this fish upstream. I scrambled over rocks, camera hanging from my neck and peanut butter sandwich stuck in my mouth. A beautiful, almost golden rainbow made his way into the net and then out for a photo or two. Jacob took this 'two cast' rainbow as a sign for a great day, I was a little more skeptical.
You see, without fail, every time that Jacob jumps in the water first and lands a dream fish at the beginning of the day, it's all downhill from there. It's as if the universe has created this law, just for us, to keep us both humble and grateful.
We spent the rest of the day standing in the middle of the river waving a stick, throwing everything we had at fish we couldn't even see. A thunderstorm had been looming in the distance all day, a constant reminder to keep moving. A flash of lightning lit up the sky, forcing us to climb back up to the trail, with no other fish, but that one brilliant rainbow.
Being a bit downtrodden and a little weary about the oncoming storm I hiked without noticing my surroundings until a little grouse popped her head up from under a pine tree. And just like that, I opened my eyes, to the wonder all around me.
On this particular day, we may not have found an overflowing pot of gold, but the journey over the rainbow was unforgettable.