Thursday, April 26, 2012

Head Waters

We snuck off to the Metolius River for a couple of days this week. This magical place, with all its contradictions, yields its secrets slowly. It's been 15 years now since I first set eyes on what must be one of the most pristine rivers anywhere. This year we got a chance to show it to my brother-in-law, John. Like me, he likes to fly fish, hike, and just sit by the water and watch the stress melt away. John is a constant photographer so there will always be pictures wherever he goes. One afternoon he and I decided to travel up an unmarked road between two of the public campgrounds along the river. Following it to the end and careful not to trod on private property, we ended up seeing a portion of the river that most never do. It split into two streams at one point as a side channel meandered in a D shape before rejoining the main body. This time of year the water was at its highest and moving rather rapidly. The fishing wasn't too hot, but John managed one redside (a strain of rainbow trout) at least that's what he said. My luck there usually comes later in the year in the smaller headwaters. I did see an osprey who decided not to fish that afternoon. This river has essentially remained the same for the last two decades. Strict management for wild fish only and very precise building codes keep it that way. There are, of curse, a number of privately owned homes and lodges in strategically beautiful spots. That begs the question, who owns a river? I know what the law says about the water line and the middle of the river being open to the public...but really, must some people put barbed wire across the stream? Apparently so in one spot. The Metolius continues to be a real conundrum. I like it that way. A river that beautiful doesn't have to open up to people if it doesn't want to. My hope now is that I can continue to visit year after year. Every adventure there is different. Every fishing experience is filled with surprises and puzzles. The evenings, with or without a fire in the fireplace are restful and renewing. The Fall is my favorite time there. Maybe October.

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