The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.- Lao Tzu
I have a pair of wading boots that I purchased about 10 years ago. They have been thousands of miles in places like Alaska, Montana, Idaho, and Vermont to name a few. They have seen some pretty amazing things. These aren’t just an ordinary pair of boots. They have witnessed a great change in my life. They were the first pair of boots I purchased after going to work for the Orvis company and that was my first “job” in the fly fishing industry. They were also around when I broke out and started my own guide service.
The time has come to put them to rest but before I do, they have some stories to tell.
The trips these boots have made to Alaska weren’t your normal everyday salmon fishing adventures. We were after pike…..not just any pike but BIG pike. Fish that were in excess of forty inches and in places where they were native, not invasive. We stayed on a houseboat tucked back into a slough off a very remote river in a place where if something bad happened no one would ever find you. These were great adventures shared with several of my customers.
Not all those who wander are lost.- J.R.R. Tolkien
These boots were also there for all of my steelhead adventures. They were around when I first learned how to cast a spey rod from my friend and artist James Sampsel. They have swung for steelhead on the John Day, Deschutes, Rogue, and Sacramento Rivers. These trips were full of friends and passion. There is nothing like the feeling you get when one of these fish is about to eat your fly. If you have ever done this type of fishing, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, the best way I can describe it is there is a tension that fills the air when everything is going right. The casts are clean, the swing is good, you take a step downstream and do it again. You can feel the excitement building and then WHAM, fish on! On one of these days, I was fishing with a friend of mine named Rodrigo. We were on the Rogue River. We landed thirteen wild steelhead swinging flies with two handed rods. When we got back to the lodge we learned that our boat was the only one to land anything that day. Some days are like that….you just have to be at the right place at the right time.
Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.- Marilyn Monroe
These boots have been more places than can be mentioned in one blog post. They have traveled to the San Juan and Rio Chama Rivers in New Mexico. The Animas, Upper San Juan, Delores, and Gunnison in Colorado. The Strawberry and Green Rivers in Utah and many more rivers, streams and lakes. They have traveled to Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Casper and Cody Wyoming where they spent time on the North Platte, the Bighorn and the Shoshone.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.- Ralph Waldo Emerson
These boots have been around when I’ve taught hundreds of people how to fly fish through schools, classes and guide trips. They have hiked for miles and miles up and down remote small streams across the state of Arizona. They were there when I left the Orvis Company to start my own guide service. And just last week while wading in Carnero Lake, they breathed their last breath. It is a sad day when you lose a companion that has been with you on a journey this great. Another has taken their place and this is just the beginning of a new adventure.