I know I should give up. I should turn around and walk the three miles back to my car. It’s about eight, and it will be dark by nine, but I still haven’t found that spot. I know it’s here. I’ve hiked this trail four times over the past four weeks, and I’ve seen it every time. It’s down the side of a hill about five hundred feet. There’s a particular feeling you get when you see a place like this–one that leaves a knot where your stomach should be. It’s where the river fades from green to black. A place like this will swallow you whole and you will never be seen again, but that is the rush.
There is something about fly fishing that never gets old. Nowhere else can one feel that particular balance between power and finesse. The exact moment that the perfect cast takes place, you know. It starts in your wrist, and like a wave rolls up and off the tip of the rod, shooting down the line like a volt of electricity. You and whatever is below the surface are the only things in the world at that moment in time.
Half walking, half sliding down the hill, I’m thinking. I’m thinking that I’ve come a long way from Nashville, that I’ve come a long way from my childhood. I’m thinking that I don’t want to grow older. I want time to stop; I want to be frozen in this body for the rest of my life. I never want to be forgotten, and I never want to forget anyone or anything. I tell myself that I will remember these twenty-eight days for the rest of my life, but I know that I won’t.
I notice that I can’t see the sun at all in the canyon. I’m thankful for the sweatshirt in my backpack, in the place normally occupied by a camera; the air coming off the river is much cooler than on the trail. I pull it over my head and direct my gaze toward the pool, it’s black depth like a mouth yawning before sucking me in. I pop open the fly box and thread the line. Alone, smack in the middle of a national forest is not where I should be right now, but I am not rational; right now, I am a fisherman.