To see such a place with my dad is well beyond any words I can conjure. I have no pictures to explain what it was like to see him smile, not because of a fish or setting or bear, but because I was smiling. I smiled a lot. I took it in and I exhaled and was not shy in exclaiming or commenting on what was around me. I acted like a kid that I really am, and my dad did the same. You would be hard pressed to find two people more suited to enjoy that experience, and enjoy watching each other enjoy it. I got the impression that a lot of people go to Alaska to use it. We did our best to appreciate it instead. Maybe I am crazy, but it felt right.
When we returned to the lodge on the last day, a feast awaited us all. We sat down to steak and fantastic food...we laughed and looked at pictures and told stories. As dinner ended, my exhausted (but elated) dad went to bed. I looked around at a room full of guides and clients and good conversation and did the right thing. I snuck outside, put on my waders and went to stand in the river one last time. In true storybook fashion, I landed grayling after grayling as the lodge guests started a bonfire that overlooked the river. I stood a few hundred yards away with my boots in the gravel and a fly rod in my hand. I caught grayling as the sun went down and walked back to the lodge with only the light of the campfire as my guide. The trip ended for me there on the river...a size 16 elk haired caddis stuck in the lips of a 19 inch grayling...my feet and legs cold, my fingers wet, my eyes wide open and my heart full.
Thanks for an unforgettable trip dad.