there is a doorway…

there is a doorway…

there is a doorway. 

somewhere in the space

between here and there, 

it waits.


for us to walk through

and find the magic

of life.

wade in cold water,

breathe vibrant verdant

tree presence,

slow down.

stop. step between

the worlds and find

immense space

and peace.

forget time.

in the flow

there is only



This is Living

This is Living

The air temperature suddenly drops. I wonder if there is a thunderstorm approaching. The canopy of greens makes it impossible for me to see the sky. The stereo of rushing water in riffles downstream and in a small rapid upstream make it impossible to hear anything else. Dapples of sunlight are still creating light diamonds on the 60 degree water…I’m gonna wade more.

The hike to my entry point was graced with a elk cow, standing alone in the green forest. She guarded the gateway, the threshold, into that other realm of rocks, water, ferns, trees, and trout.

As I wade, memories of a recent casting lesson from a favorite mentor at LRO seem to click in and suddenly my casts are smooth, the fly floats and gently kisses the surface and multiple times my rod bends as wild trout teach me the arts of balance and patience. Their multi-colored bodies glisten in the creek water as they come close and then flip off the barbless hook. Better than having to handle them to remove the hook and release them. We find an agreeable way to be together…my teachers in trout form.

Because of the easy creek slope, I find myself wading without having to exit around rapids. The water level is perfect: low enough to make it safe in deeper areas but high enough to provide great habitat for trout. Fly fishing opens me to flow—of water, line, breath. It turns me inside out and brings out the profound calm of my deep, inner water and gives healing in ways nothing else has…except maybe scuba.

Nearly four hours pass and I still wade upstream. The only word that comes close to describing the experience is magic. But wait…was that thunder? I can’t tell but decide to exit the creek and see if I can glimpse the sky. I move closer to the meadow and there are some dark gray clouds in the distance. I decide to head back up the trail, toward my car just in case. 

About a quarter mile from my exit point, I find another beautiful area that begs for a dry fly. I climb down the rocky bank and toss a fly and sure enough, a beautiful rainbow trout finds me whispering words of gratitude as I gently remove the hook that is barely even engaged with the fish. I wade up and up and up more. I lose track of time but notice the sun is no longer visible. I pay closer attention to sounds…is that thunder again?

I remain in a state of Oneness and bliss as I continue to wade and cast. I munch on dark chocolate, cheese, and almonds. I stop and filter water to drink. And then continue wading, celebrating beauty.

The exit point comes and goes, I continue on, but the fish have disappeared. I think it might be time to go, they are urging me back to my car. And then…BOOM! Yes, it’s time.

I reel in the line and stow the fly. Backtracking to an easy egress point doesn’t take long and then I’m only a quarter mile above my car.

As I emerge from the cover of woods, dark clouds are mixing with white, puffy clouds. I set a steady pace across the meadow and breakdown the gear within minutes. By the time I drive past the overlook, rain is blanketing the next ridge over and skies are dark.

Deep calm envelopes me still. The trout do this to me…they demand I find my deep center. The rocks demand I be grounded. The water demands I stay alert. Words escape me now, hours later, as I try to express how I feel…still embraced in the flow, still in that place of calm, deep water within the depths of my being. A wood thrush is in the woods, just outside my home. The flute-like, sweet song makes me smile.

Oh, yes. I love experiencing a life where there is no need to escape for a vacation. This is living. This is bliss.

Fun on the Fly

Fun on the Fly

As twilight descends, yellow mayflies swarm around me. They had been hatching throughout the 5 mile walk/wade, but just as light fades the little faery-like beings begin to swarm.

Recently, I decided to combine my daily walk with fly fishing. I’ve always been a morning hiker, cycler or whatever outdoor urge calls, but lately I’ve been drawn to twilight, that mysterious threshold between light and dark, where the mystery of the creek is experienced.

The air temperature is 72 when I start walking. Unencumbered by wading pants (but wearing hiking pants), the hike is so much more pleasant. When I first step into the 60 degree water after walking 25 minutes, it feels magnificent. Fish are jumping…no, leaping out of the creek. Insects are falling from limbs and emerging out of the water. And so it goes for the entire three hours.

At one pool, a big brown trout leaps after my fly and makes me squeal. I know she’s probably still laughing her trout laugh. A little farther on, a trout leaps. I cast to the trout and it grabs the fly and spits it out before I can even react. But how much fun! Serious fun.

It’s challenging to describe the peaceful spirit that hovers over the forest and creek as the day begins to end. Light is warm and inviting. Cool air caresses my face with tenderness. Everything seems to exist in a deep harmony. 

As I stand at the shallow edge of a deep hole, I feel the energy of water as it chills my feet and lower legs. Wet wading…the absolute best way to fly fish because the connection to the fish and forest deepens for me with no separation between my body and the body of water.

Nearly everyone else is home eating dinner or tending to kids or whatever. I find profound balance comes from this quiet time, with hardly anyone else around…well, except for the trout and insects. 

As I listen to my body after hours spent in the twilight of the creek and forest, I feel such relaxation and peace. My energy is strong yet sweetly in harmony with Nature. Gratitude bubbles up from my depths, the flow within is strong. For the yellow mayflies, the midges, the trout, the creek and rocks, the trees and green plants and lush ferns, the strong body that carries me outdoors and for an open heart that can take it all in…I am grateful.


On a side note, a song I haven’t heard in decades started playing in my mind as I walked, but I could only hear one phrase: Here I am baby, come and take by the hand. I couldn’t remember the group or other lyrics so I sang this to the forest and the creek and the fish for three hours. And even to two other hikers who passed me. Upon returning home, I found the song! UB40 was the reggae group and it’s an awesome tune. Here are some of the lyrics: “I can’t believe that it’s real, The way that you make me feel. The burnin’ deep down inside, The love that I cannot hide. I know it’s you I need, baby, And it makes the world go round. I’m keeping’ you in love with me, baby, Laying all my troubles down. Here I am, baby, come and take me. Here I am, baby, come on and take me. Take me by the hand. Ooh, show me. Here I am baby.”

Seems very fitting to sing this to Nature as I walk in bliss and wonder.

The Green

The Green

Intense green seemed to ooze from every expression of Nature. Grass growing in the creek, trees gracefully arching over moving water, trees with newly unfurled buds—all of these elements joined together to create a glowing green realm that quite honestly seemed otherworldly, as if I had wandered into the faery realm.

It was a rainy day that started with heavy, gray clouds. Being prepared with the right gear made the rain a non-issue. Fish tend to like the rain. Or perhaps fly fishers like the rain because the trout aren’t quite as able to discern hand-made flies from naturally occurring insects hatching. It wasn’t a disappointing day wading, casting a line, and generally enjoying what I think of as a typical Smoky Mountains perfect day—cool, rainy, foggy, and beautiful.

Generally, I fish alone and enjoy it immensely; however, I fished with guide David Knapp, owner of Trout Zone Anglers, and was able to explore and wade places I wouldn’t generally go by myself. We went off the trail and made our way upstream using the creek and rhododendron thickets and moss-covered banks to navigate. The only other indication that others used the area was fresh elk droppings. The road wasn’t far away, but it felt as if we were immersed in a magical ecosystem of cold water, rocks, moss, trees…and trout. Lots of trout.

In past writing, I’ve said it’s not about the trout. But it is about the trout—and everything else, too. I occasionally fish another river, outside of the national park, and it’s pretty and there are many stocked trout, but it’s not magical like these remote areas that require extra effort to traverse, extra miles driven down bumpy gravel roads, and a capacity to enjoy beauty that stretches one’s ability to take it all in.

I won’t go into detail about what I learned about fly fishing, which was a lot. I’ll simply state what a pleasure it was to fish with someone who enjoys the whole experience of fly fishing, not just counting trout that are landed. Wading, stalking, casting, listening to birds, noting insects, watching trout rise to flies—these elements and more absorbed, appreciated and celebrated. 

April 29th of last year, I started fly fishing. Almost a year to the day, I was able to feel the confidence I’ve gained and skills that have improved as I’ve enjoyed over 65 fly fishing experiences, most of them in the national park and most of them solo. I’ve come to appreciate the intricate innerworkings of these cold, mountain creek ecosystems and am so grateful they have received me into their beauty.

What is Your Beauty?

What is Your Beauty?

White trilliums covered the side of the trail and the slope of the mountain. Wild phlox, their purple-blue blossoms bursting with color, mixed with the trilliums and created a mosaic of color. Occasionally white and purple butterflies lifted off flowers, appearing to be trilliums and phlox taking flight. 

Pink petals, the later stage of white trilliums, golden ragwort, yellow trout lilies, yellow and purple violets, liverworts, bloodroots, heartleaf foamflowers, mountain bellworts, dutchman’s breeches, louseworts, seersucker sedges, blue asters, thyme leaf bluets, twoleaf miterworts, Miami mists, showy orchis, dwarf crested iris…too many to name, much less count….covered areas of the remote trail and surrounding open woodland. 

At one point, I stopped and spoke to a flower: Your beauty is amazing! I stood admiring her and heard a question in return: What is your beauty? I thought just a moment and replied: My beauty is sharing your beauty.

I pondered the answer I felt and walked with it as a mantra, repeating and allowing clarity to come.

As I allow ‘doors’ within me to open, I become a clearer channel for love, for light…for beauty to move through me and out into the world. For a long time, I thought the doors had to open in the outer world for me to walk through; however, the flower taught me that it is the inner door that must open to allow in more light, more beauty. Then…the outer doors open.

My beauty is sharing your beauty–lovely flower, clear-water creek, moss-covered rock, wild elk, magnificent mountain, humpback whale…. The more I can open myself to allow your beauty to fill me, the more I can share with the world. 

Learning about Oneness from a flower….I highly recommend it.