Hidden Gems of Mountain Streams


Once, as a young boy, I asked my father to race me from his office to his car. The instant he said no, I was struck by a startling realization. Dad never ran, at least not spontaneously or without purpose. Nor for that matter did any of the grown-ups in my life. It just wasn’t how dignified adults behaved. My face flushed hot with the sudden recognition. I was embarrassed for not having known and, looking back, I think maybe saddened to have figured it out.

Sadder still, somewhere along the way, I too set aside play for the staid postures of maturity, without so much as a wonder why. Most of us do.

That memory, and the introspection that accompanied it, both flashed to mind a week ago when I was alone, above tree line, wet, bleeding, hiding on my belly under a willow bush and grinning ear-to-ear. Why exactly, I’d just asked myself, don’t I spend more time like this?

The recollection may have hinted at an explanation, but it fell well short of justification. More time high on adrenaline, spying on lazily finning, unsuspecting golden trout is, to be fair, tough competition.

What, after all, is worth swapping for the thrill of discovery? How do you price giddiness? What’s the going rate on goofy, unselfconscious, childlike enthusiasm?

The questions are worth asking. When we don’t, they have a tendency to get answered for us.

Of course, I didn’t think to ask or answer them a week ago either. I had other things on my mind – like a steadying breath, a slow rise to my knees, and a tough decision about how to play the drift… .

6 Comments on “Hidden Gems of Mountain Streams

  1. The thrill of discovery, unselfconscious enthusiasm – priceless!
    Your kids really hit the parenting jackpot.

  2. I’m 67 and still get that giddy feeling when I do something “stupid” like trying to walk across that old log to the other side of the stream when I could just wade accross. Hurts for a while (days) afterward but, somehow, it seems worth it. Next up- hopping boulders in Fremont Canyon. My first trip to the North Platte.

    • Soreness is temporary, discovery is forever! Thanks for reading and weighing in Steve, and have a great time on the North Platte.

  3. I love the looks I get from my colleagues on those Mondays I show up bruised and scraped, sort of a mix of confusion and disdain. This one really got me grinning Matthew, thanks.

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