Closure

    This is a place I haven’t visited since the death of a dear friend who I grew up with. He and two others were gunned down senselessly at a Halloween party six years ago. At the time I had a week off from work due to unseasonably warm weather and spent every day of it alone, fishing out of the way high country lakes and watching desperate trout rise to my flies as the daunting and arduous winter lurked behind the balding aspens and skies devoid of the summer birds. I remember coming to this lake the day before his memorial and seeing numerous fish inspect my offerings and reject them outright, a humbling end to a trying and painful week. I wasn’t there to catch fish or search for meaning, but the rejection of every interested fish was for some reason unsettling. I forgot about this place for a few years, buried somewhere in the numbness and shock that shrouded my family of friends and I during that time.

  One of my oldest friends and his wife joined me in rediscovering this forgotten lake this weekend. We passed onto a scree slope beyond the permanently arched branches of the timber stands that are shaped by the relentless winds pressing over the crest of the range. These deformed statues mark the last waypoint to the unmarked and trail-less lake just over the next shoulder of granite. We crested the rise and saw the lake sprawled far below us, pale shapes shifting below and forming ripples as they gorged on a late season hatch. This place is a secret we keep and as far as I am concerned it doesn’t have a name. Being surrounded by some of the most dense summer tourism activity you can imagine it’s a miracle that it remains so pristine and unknown, as the lakes near it are all fished out by fall and are planted with tiny brookies to keep the vacationing sports entertained all summer. In the past I’ve seen fish here that fall under the toad category, but today we only found some pretty little guys and gals.
  We spent the calm and strangely warm afternoon that mirrored my last day here reeling in the fish that previously shunned me during that emotional day a few years prior. I thought about the fortune we quietly shared in having a place like this. Something few knew about and fewer fished, something set free by ignorance and sloth, something mostly free of the horrors of humanity. Our fallen friend would have shared the same reverence if he were there with us. He shared the love of nature and all things wild that our group of friends were all seemingly born with and didn’t realize growing up running free through the Sierras. I remembered that we lost him almost 6 years ago to the day, and I felt a sense of closure as I let a beautiful cutthroat slip out of my hand, free to live at the mercy of nature and not by the will of man.

  We’ll always miss you Coogan, you were one of a kind and we still think of you often. Rest in peace brother.
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4 responses to “Closure

  1. Thats a cool lake. Never fished it but have certainly skied over/around it on numerous occasions while skiing the peak above. Glad you have found some closure Larry. A very good thing!

  2. Profound.

    I can relate to an extent, lost my sister in a similar fashion a week before her 21st birthday. I was on a hunting trip when it happened and didn’t return until after the dust had mostly settled. Not a year passes that I pick up that shotgun and don’t think of her. Could swear I sometimes hear her voice when I tool through the aspens and birches.

    Glad you found closure.

    • The connections we make in times of tragedy are profound. I still can’t listen to the album that played in my truck driving to his funeral without thinking about him, I still think about him when I visit all of the lakes I fished that week. It’s good to be reminded by beautiful things.

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