There are places that stand out during the past year: seeing the Front Range for the first time was more extraordinary that I thought it would be, struggling to breathe on a fourteen thousand foot peak while simultaneously being stunned by the views, hiking up along the Big Thompson at altitude and discovering it's not all that Big, up the Slough scrambling on boulders dodging bear, walking among Bison on the Lamar, sitting under a tree smoking a cigar with Bruce while a summer storm pelts the Gallatin.
I finally got to meet a few of my fellow bloggers. Unfortunately, a meeting with Jay and Erin was cut short by illness but I'm sure we'll reconnect before long. I met Marc out in Yellowstone and then again in Tennessee where Mike joined us for a day of angling on the Holston. In our sport, streams are the table upon which we break bread and Marc set a fine spread for us. That's another place to which I must return.
|The Yellowstone Gang (from left to right): Smithhammer,|
Karen Kress (Yellowstone Park Foundation),
Deeter, Payne, Hunt, Garlock, Zakur
Along our journey we also met with Rich, Brennan, Dave, Ken, K.C., Todd, and countless, dedicated National Park Service folks who are doing yeoman's work to keep the places that are worth saving, safe.
Locally, I fished with Kit, Jon, Don, Ross, Heather, James, Chris, Sam, Todd and Steve and probably a few others whom I've forgotten. I usually fish when I can which means I often fish alone. It's when I have the opportunity to fish with a friend that I recall what a joy it is to fish in good company. Looking upstream to see Kit working the tail of a pool, see Don methodically and effectively nymphing the Sand Hole and wrestling chrome to the beach with Jon are all satisfying memories of the season past.
And because I spend more time at the keyboard than I do on the water there are people here who have rounded out my angling year. Howard, Alan, Quill, Sanders, Brian, T.J., Tom, Nate, Emily, John, the other Mike, Matt, Jason and countless others whom I've now offended by leaving them off the list.
The next year is close by and for the first time I enter a new calendar confused and uncertain. The past year has marked some of the highest and lowest points of my life; never have they been compacted so temporally. I find myself revisiting long-held beliefs and looking at the path I'm following which has suddenly become unfamiliar and dark.
But I have strength. As Ann says, confidence bordering on arrogance. And I have family and friends upon which to lean for the support and comfort that make long, hard journeys bearable and worthwhile. We'll find time to adventure and talk and write and read and together we'll make the coming year notable and extraordinary. The end is upon us and I face it with hope because it is also the beginning of new adventures, deeper friendships and a hope for grace and peace for those I hold dear.
Happy New Year to you all.