It’s early November and we’re hanging out around an open cooler along the banks a familiar stretch of river in a very special place. The temperature is actually pretty mild today, all things considered, and the unobscured midday sun did a pretty good job of erasing almost every bit of evidence from the snowstorm a couple of days ago. Hot dogs sizzle on a little Weber grill and the sunset is putting on a show as the day disappears into a sea of mountains to the west. The end of an incredible trip to Cowboy Country is knocking on the door, and, as you might expect, no one is ready to leave.
Three days ago, we drove through an insane winter storm to get here. The interstate closed, and our dirt-road detour was full of three-foot snow drifts. Our first day on the water was bone-chillingly cold and I’m pretty sure that most of us at least entertained the idea of packing up and heading home. No one did, though, which was a good thing. We burned a Volkswagen-sized pile of firewood our first night and we drank whiskey and hot cider to stay warm. We ate like kings. We laughed and shared stories around the fire until two in the morning.
The sun came out on the second day, but it brought with it that classic Wyoming wind. We were here to stay, though, so we’d just grit our teeth and put a little more heat on our double hauls. We’d thank our lucky stars every time the heavy streamers didn’t hook us in our backs. We hoped for the best with each heave of our seven-weights and eventually managed to find a few players in the deep, cold runs of this magnificent river.
The weather fell apart again on the third day, but the big fish were much more willing to play. Every one of us had at least a shot or two at some of the biggest trout we’d ever seen. An old trout knows the river well and holds a lot of tricks up its sleeve. The vast majority of the big fish we hooked came unbuttoned for one reason or another, but we did manage to bring a few to the net. The clouds broke up just as the sun made its way to the horizon and the clouds began to glow.
It felt like we’d be here forever, but the time just flew by. That’s the way it tends to go when you’re having a good time, I suppose. Well, here we are, at the tail end of another great trip, hot dogs and one last cold beer in hand. There’s nothing in front of us now but a long drive home. The quiet highway is the perfect place to start thinking about next year’s trip. We’ll be back here in no time.