Grand Slam…Thank You Ma’am!

Grand Slam…Thank You Ma’am!

I had to break out the waders. Fifty-two degree air temps and 59 water temps…and wading in the shady gorge of the creek. While I missed the water-to-skin contact I so enjoy wet-wading, today was a day for wading pants.

A little doe, a white-tailed deer, walked along with me in the morning fog and light. (sigh) It was a little over a mile so I was sufficiently warmed up by the time I made it up the elevation of the trail to the place I wanted to access the creek. That was under 30 minutes. It would be another hour and a half before my dance partners were ready to begin our waltzes.

But first, upon entering the water, the first touch. Hands to clear water in deep gratitude. Heart open to the connections…water, rocks, trees, moss, fish, insects, human. Oneness.

Wading, casting, wading, stopping and looking with awe. Wading, casting…more awe, more smiling. And then, my dance partners were ready. But would only respond to one specific kind of dry fly. Not a stimulator. Not a caddis. Nope. Nope. Nope. Small parachutes, please. Purple dubbing…yes! Olive dubbing…yes! But only small parachute adams flies.

Okay. Whatever makes you all happy. When the dancing started, boy did we dance!

There had been 7 rainbow dances. Then a brookie danced. And I was like….I have another half mile or more of creek before I exit….COME ON BROWNIE!!! My mantra became, Come on Brownie! Two more dances with rainbows….the first time I’ve EVER said… Oh, another rainbow. I had my heart set on a slam…the three trout in the national park: rainbow, brown, and brook. The audacity of me to be disappointed when a wild trout decided to dance with me. I caught that snobbery immediately and made apologies.

And then….from right under a big stump, a flash of energy took the dry fly and I set the hook and Mr. Brown Trout erupted from the deep pool to grant me my wish: A GSMNP Grand Slam! The honey-colored belly flew through the air and I erupted in a loud WHOOP!!!

I was so psyched that I ended the day in a long, large pool–free of overhanging anything–and just worked on long casts. The creeks I fish are small and have so much growth overhanging or pushing in on the sides, it’s rare to be able to stretch out that beautiful loop. But I did and the rock where I was standing had a trout hiding there that eventually tired of my big boot being so close and slowly swam away. Ah, my pet rainbow.

There are always moments that remain frozen in my mind after such a perfect day. I reflected on them as I hiked down the trail: the light filtering through dense leaves and fog as I wade upstream; a trout rises a few feet from my boot to wait for the fly floating down the run…as it surfaces, it rolls its eyes toward me and at the last minute refuses (smart trout!); a rainbow I release as I kneel down on the rocks–I do this to keep the fish in the water as I remove the barbless hook–and the trout just stays in the shadow of my knee…so I continue to kneel and observe the trout just inches from me but nearly invisible…so perfect is their camouflage…I finally touch its tail suggesting it move on so I could stand up; the monster trout that swirls at the bottom of a big pool that rises to my fly and then dives back down and continues swimming around, totally ignoring my fly (another very smart fish).

Walking down the trail in the return to ‘reality,’ amidst all these beautiful reflections, I nearly stepped in a big pile of bear poo. Back to reality, Simone!

If you’d like to join me in an alternate reality of the fly fishing kind, I offer holistic fly fishing guide service. Most of my clients are women, new to fly fishing; but, anyone is welcome. We focus on the connection of life within the creek ecosystem, rather than how many fish are caught. Hone your skills, learn as a brand new beginner or just come along for the woo-woo…I create a safe space to learn and practice being a wading woman.

Dreaming with Elk

Dreaming with Elk

It happened again. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning dreaming of elk bedded down all around my home and then, late this afternoon, I came upon a large gathering of elk as they begin to come together for their annual autumnal rut festival. According to a national park volunteer I spoke with, today was the first day of their gathering. And they told me in my dream.

A few years ago, not long after I moved back to the Smokies, I awoke and in a half-waking/half-sleeping state, I felt hot breath on my face. None of my four-legged companions was the source of the hot breath. I felt an elk standing over me, breathing in my face. Later that morning, I came upon a massive bull elk standing on the side of the road, as if he was waiting for me.

It has happened more than these two examples, but these were the most intense. 

I’m not sure how consciousness works, but I do believe we have helpers that show up in all manner of forms. The elk and I definitely are in sync. And I am deeply grateful.

Today I saw a cow and her calf in the river and they reminded me of Wading Women, my holistic fly fishing guide service name. They became the newest members of the team…wading women, indeed! 

No matter what species were are labeled, we all go to water for nurturing, healing, for life-giving fluids. Several elk were cooling off in the chilly, mountain water as it was in the low 90’s here in the Smokies. I’m in total agreement with them…let’s wade!

I’m grateful for the visitations, for the shared dreamtime experiences with elk. For their strength, power, and stamina—majestic rulers of the forest. Thank you!

Please note: none of these images were taken in close proximity to the elk. They were either taken with a telephoto lens, from a safe distance behind a big tree, or actually from within my car and the elk were alongside the road. The national park asks visitors to stay over 50 yards away (150 feet). Anything that disturbs elk or causes them to move, is against park rules and can result in fines and arrest. I have accidentally come upon them on a trail before and it’s a very strange feeling to realize you are completely surrounded by elk without even seeing them when you were hiking. This time of year, as we approach the ‘rut festival,’ we must be extra cautious as the bulls can be very dangerous when they are fighting for their gals. Please don’t harass any wildlife in the park. Let them remain undisturbed. Please.

When Rocks Sing

When Rocks Sing

The large bolder in the middle of the clear, rushing water was the perfect place to sit as I tied on new tippet and a new fly. As I focused on tying the knots, attention given completely to the task, I felt vibrations coming from the rock through my body. Must be the rock transmitting the water’s movement, I thought.

On I waded until I found a much bigger rock to sit on for my snack of dark chocolate and almonds. As I chewed the nuts and sweet treat, I felt the same thing. I’d never felt vibrations from a rock before…not like that. And yes, the water was moving but, still. 

So I sat and felt the rock trembling and wondered if it was my body shaking…but no, it was definitely coming from outside of me. 

What must it take for something as solid and heavy as a rock to reverberate with the energy of water? I’ve been at large waterfalls and felt the earth shake from large volumes of water. I’ve stood on cliffs over 700 tall on the west coast of Ireland and felt the ground shake far back from the edge as waves crashed into shore. So yes, it’s possible for earth to transmit vibrations of moving water. I had just never felt it on the rocks in the creek.

It’s rather amazing, really. Something as hard and heavy and big as a large bolder can convey the language of water through vibrations. And, I’m guessing I could have put my ear to the rock and heard the music of the interplay between rock and water through the rock’s interpretation of those vacillations of sound waves…of energy.

In my meditation before sleep tonight, I closed my eyes and listened to my body. It felt energized and alive, in perfect balance. That usually happens after four or five hours of wading and casting, but tonight I noticed something different. It was as if my body still held the vibration of the rock…the music of the rock…and continued to emit joy from that profound song. 

While I truly love dancing with trout and the relationship I have with them as they swim to flies I tied and refuse or try them or swat them or ignore them, it’s experiences like I had today–when rocks sing to me and I am still enough to feel the music–that nurture my life, my self. 

Bats, Fly Fishing & Initiation

Bats, Fly Fishing & Initiation

Three weeks ago…

I walked to the trail on the paved road. After a short hike on the trail, I cut through a section of woods to reach the creek. I was headed for a particular bend in the creek that was deep and very fishy. Water levels were low so the bottom was slick; however, that particular creek bottom is always slick as snot, so I carefully crossed and walked along the bank to the spot. 

Storms and floods had changed it significantly from the last time I was there, so casting was challenging through several downed trees. But within a few minutes, I had a very nice rainbow dancing with me. Usually I’m wading; however, because there was a steep drop-off in the water, I was standing on the rocky shore. 

I was stripping line and walking to a better place to bend down and release the fish without bringing it out of the water. Easy, with nothing out of the ordinary except the strange, black blob flattened right where I had been kneeling. 

Upon closer examination, the blob became a bat. At first, I thought it was dead; but with even more careful observation and a gentle nudge with my wading staff, the bat hissed and I was  the one disturbed. I had been kneeling there. Like…right there.

Knowing that bats are the most common carrier of rabies, with 3% being infected, and seeing that it was close to mid-day and the bat was not sleeping, I knew better than to touch the bat. But it was at the edge of the creek so perhaps it fell out of the overhanging tree or missed a swoop to get water during the night. Bats cannot take off from the ground. Maybe it was thirsty. So I got a thick stick and wet it and dripped water on the bat’s face. It drank so I then allowed it to crawl on the stick and airlifted it to the tree. It crawled off the make-shift airplane and huddled on the tree.

I thought about the weird encounter, how strange it was, for the hours I spent wading upstream. Later than afternoon, when I removed my pants (no, I wasn’t wearing waders…I was wet wading) I saw a red mark on my knee. Ugh.

I fretted throughout the weekend, wondering what to do. Did it bite me? Did I even kneel on it? Monday my doctor referred me to the health department who referred me to animal control. The lady at animal control was blunt, “You do not have a choice. You must get the preventative treatment.” I won’t go into the actual experience of the series of shots but I certainly am glad they are over and I’m now protected from further encounters with potentially rabid creatures.

But seriously….what in the world?

Having studied shamanism for many years, I realize that encounters such as this are powerful and the animals are significant teachers. The bat is symbolic for letting go of the old and bringing in the new, of transition and initiation and a new beginning. The bat is a symbol of promise in the chaotic energy of change. Ted Andrews writes in Animal Speak, “The bat reflects the piercing of new barriers and the opening to higher wisdom. It symbolizes a new truth being awakened.” He writes further to say that it implies strength and stamina to handle issues that might arise as you open to new consciousness. “Its message contains the promise of new horizons and unexpected views about to manifest…the bat is powerful medicine. It can be trying, but it always indicates initiation—a new beginning that brings promise and power after the changes.”

In the three weeks since that encounter, the way has opened for Wading Women, a holistic fly fishing program, to be birthed…many months ahead of what I intended. In fact, this week was so chaotic, in a good way, to birthing this program that my head has literally been spinning. Everything came together seemingly suddenly, even though I’ve been steadily working on it for over a year. 

I’ll write more on Wading Women soon to share the mission, the intention, and the specifics. But for now, I’m just sitting on my front porch, watching the mountains across the valley, thankful for little…and big….miracles that are happening to launch a program of empowerment for women. And thankful for encounters with many beings, both animal and human, that change the trajectory of my life.


To learn more about Wading Women, visit WadingWomen.com