Once or twice a year I make it a point to grab the glass rod, a small pack of dry flies and head back home and bushwack to a few of the blue lines that I frequented as a young boy. I honestly don’t know exactly what my reasoning is; could be that I want to feel like a kid again, maybe I wanna be sure that those wily natives I tangled with growing up are still thriving, or maybe because these are truly the lonly places that I can honestly say are the surest bet of seeking out peace and quiet with a fly rod these days.

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Life comes at us all fast with varying degrees of peaks and valleys, and as I’ve gotten older with the help of a twenty year career as a public servant, my empathy towards others, understanding the concept that you truly do not know what another person might be dealing with is a profound idea that would seriously benefit a great deal of the self absorbed folks we seem to bump into on a much more regular basis. Even though just hours prior I’m cursing at some stranger while behind the steering wheel becomes a daily occurrance as some preoccuppied so and so is too busy focusing on swiping their smartphone instead of devoting their time to the road their navigating in a 2 ton gas powered projectile.

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I typically go to these places alone, but as I grow older and my inner circle of what I consider brothers (others would call close friends) grows even smaller, I try to share these experiences with those who actually understand their value and truly appreciate them. These are but one of the few places other than the pain cave (what I call my gym) where I can truly slow down. Recently I had the pleasure of doing just that with one of these brothers and it had a profound impact on him.

Muddog as he is more readily known, Mike to me, although he feels like a lifelong brother has really become a part of that circle in recent years. I guess you could say we are both doing what we can to make up for lost time together. When we catch up, we both recognize the hard truth that we are on the other half of the ruler in relation to our short time left on this earth, so we have made it a point to capitalize on those things that we hope never change.

A true disciple of the salt, Mike is a man of few words but when he speaks the messages are profound and so clear and concise like the days he had to articulate that last collar while working the streets of Burlington. I guess we connect on levels that few would understand from our backgrounds, but we understand eachother like some of our other aquaintances might not. As we meandered our way into the valley of this one rather memorable blue line the conversation stopped as he absorbed what this particular venue can do to your soul.

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To be clear, these places are and aren’t about the fish. They are about stepping back in time and wrapping your head around the notion of what the concept of wild really means. They don’t necessarily have to be thousands of miles from home in some hard to reach corner of the planet. Granted, those from experience are always worth the price of admission, but after four decades of travel around the planet, I can honestly say you can find these places close to home if you are willing to seek them out; in otherwords, its all relative.

From the rugged landscape, rock formations made by water, to the original strain of eastern Brook Trout that once inhabited a vast majority of our waterways, these unique specimens are now confined to these higher elevation streams protected by natures green canopy. It all quickly becomes a total sensory overload as you find your eyes struggling to stay focused on one singular thing; your ears are tickled with natures stereo by the song of various birds and other things making music around you while your nose continues to inhale that earthy aroma you can’t quite describe, but those who have spent time there can relate when brought up in conversation.

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After being fortunate to have fooled a 10 inch brook trout in one of those crystal clear waterfall pools, by all means a trophy in these waters, I could see the gears turning in Muddog’s head. Part of me knew exactly what he was soon to ask on our hike out of this valley hidden under the canopy of pine, oak and maple, after we marched uphill from our last dramatic twenty plus foot waterfall.
“Hey, I was wondering, how the hell did those fish get above these falls into some of those pools”, he blurted out as we crested the final hill next to a stone wall that at one time delineated what was once a barrier for livestock several hundred years prior. “I was wondering when you were going to ask that question” I responded. A long conversation ensued with a great deal of speculation but no clear answers, and that’s ok as that is part of what makes this place magical.

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you definitevely as I have often contemplated that very question since the very first time I set foot here almost forty years ago. Ice age? Birds? Who really knows but they’re here and there is no real way to know which is the beauty of the mystery. What I do know is these places will forever spark my interest just knowing that not too far from the fray they still exist, if you’re willing and able to search them out. The day we destroy these places is the day all hope is lost; hopefully the human race will recognize that before it happens. I am hopeful but skeptical to say the least, but I do know that I am going to keep on trying to pretend I am that little kid for as long as my body will allow, and I will do my damnedest to make sure they stay that way.

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