My dad fished or hunted every Friday or Saturday his whole life, at least as far back as I can remember. At age 85, he was just as passionate about the sports as he was when I was young. He was unsteady on his feet, and we worried about him, but had the spunk of a teenager. A purist at heart, he would only fish his bamboo rods, with dry flies, on small streams. He loved to take our mother or any of us with him. Every time he caught a fish he'd shout, "Look, look! Come here! Why don't you just stand right by me and catch a fish!"
One night I got a call from Mom; she was at home in Salt Lake City, I was in Alaska. Mom was very worried about Dad: "He went fishing and promised to be home by dark. It's 9:30 at night, and I don't know what's happened to him." "Call Tony", I said. Tony is my brother who lives close by. So, Tony came over to help, thinking he might have to drive up to the mountains and start a search. Just as he arrived, Dad walked in.
His story, as best as I can remember it ten years later:
"You know Chalk Creek up the the Uintah mountains? I drove up there to catch some of those little brook trout. But, they put up a guard rail on the road, so I couldn't drive the van down to the creek. So, I parked the car by the side of the road, hopped over the guard rail, and slid down the steep embankment to the stream. I fished under a blue sky in that bubbly water that rippled down the mountainside. All afternoon I caught little brookies as I made my way around the bends farther and farther up stream. It was so much fun; I wish you would have been there with me. I'd promised your mother that I'd be home by dark, so I fished my way back down to the embankment where the car was parked.
"It was a steep hillside, so I hooked my fishing rod to my vest, and used both hands to climb up the slippery gravel and rocks to the road. I was almost there; my eyes were nearly level with the pavement when the clumps of grass in my hands broke, and I fell backwards down the hill and landed on a ledge. My knees were so bruised I could hardly bend them, but I tried going up again and couldn't get up the last steep section. I stood on the ledge and screamed at the top of my lungs every time a car came by. Well, after an hour or so I knew no one could hear me, and Mom would be really worried.
"Just downhill from me was a drainage culvert that ran under the road and emptied into the stream below. I figured if I could get through it, I would end up on the uphill side of the road, so I made my way down and over to it and crawled in. My knees were so bruised, I couldn't crawl, and it was really narrow...maybe 18" wide. So I scooched along on my butt, pushing backwards with my hands and feet clear under the highway until I popped out on the other side. There was the car! Much relieved I hauled my battered carcass across the highway to the car, and I just got home. But you know the worst thing of all? I lost those beautiful little fish in the culvert!