Tag: creeks

Wisdom of the Rock

Wisdom of the Rock

Frustrated to not be attracting any attention from the Trout Magi I decided to switch from nymphs to a dry fly. This is like going from playing with fingerpaints to using oil paints. In the narrow creeks where I wade and fish, there’s not a lot of room for casting and 90% of the time trout don’t go after dry flies but today I had room to cast and figured why not get some practice. 

The casting steadily improved and I was landing the fly right under an overhanging tree branch in the sweet spot. I congratulated myself and on the very next cast my fly caught the tip of the rod and did several backflips around it. I’m quickly learning that ego and fly fishing cannot co-exist. But that wasn’t the real lesson of today’s wading. The real lesson came from a rock in the middle of the creek where I sat and requested wisdom be shared. That’s the real story here.

Yesterday I wrote about fly fishing being the perfect mirror for my life. It dealt with the frustration I have about my life’s work finding traction in the world. This morning I awoke to an amazing dream.

Here’s the dream: I was completing a training curriculum and there was an exam that was a test of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. In preparation for the exam, later that day, I decided to run through all the tests. One was climbing a high bridge that had very narrow ladder rungs. I could look through and see the water far below and had to stop a couple times to regroup because it was very scary; eventually, I was able to move forward and complete the climb. There was a new class coming into the school so our group was finishing and we were advising the new students.

I awoke feeling very moved by the dream and inspired to continue allowing fly fishing to teach me.

Once again I went to my favorite creek and enjoyed the mists hugging the water, the varied shades of summer green and the crystal-clear water rushing over beautiful rocks. I waded a couple of hours and cast using underwater flies but eventually felt a desire to just sit and listen. So much had been revealed yesterday, I wanted to be still and quiet and stop thinking.

I saw a big, moss-free rock in the center of the creek and waded to it. I gently sat down and said aloud, Please share your wisdom with me. I’m really wanting to learn about my life. And so I sat. My feet were on the pebbled bottom, I held my rod—hook stowed—and relaxed. The sound of rushing water was music as was bird song. It took a while but I finally got quiet inside my mind and heard, Stop looking for trout. Hmmm. I’m fishing. Isn’t that what one does when fishing for trout? Look for them?  So I asked for clarification. The reply was the same: Stop looking for trout.

I sat in stillness and allowed the mantra to work within me…Stop looking for trout. Stop looking for trout. Stop looking for trout.

A memory surfaced from fifteen years ago when I lived in Asheville and heard guidance to go into Nature every day when I repeatedly asked what I was to do with my life. I was like…What? I’m in Nature every day already. But that message repeated and has repeated often in the following years. Today, as I sat on the Wisdom Rock, I heard, When you come into Nature you always have an agenda…take photographs, fish, hike to a certain place. When I say Stop Looking for Trout I mean to stop coming into Our presence with your agenda. There are so many layers of wisdom awaiting discovery if humans would simply be still and be quiet and await the inspiration.

Of course that is true. I feel the need to do or produce to help others connect with the amazing beauty and Oneness. And that’s great but it leaves little room for deeper wisdom to be revealed if I would just be quiet. Take the camera but stop and sit a while and be quiet inside and listen to the music of the rocks and trees and water. Take the fly rod but take time to just stop and rest and let go of all agendas. Allow the real gifts to surface in that stillness.

As I contemplated this ‘exchange’ between the rock and me, it felt like a doorway opening into the bottom of the creek that would reveal many mysteries of Nature. And that’s when, after half an hour or so, I decided to finish the morning by switching to a dry fly and casting big. And it was going great until I congratulated myself on the almost amazing casts. But it didn’t matter. Two days in a row I found myself untangling a major mess after feeling like I was making major casting progress. Fly fishing is a sport that teaches humility.

Immediately after I climbed the bank to head down the trail, I heard loud rock music…not like the rock music I had been listening to…but like heavy metal…way up here on the trail. And then a young guy and his dog materialized and he turned the music off. As we passed he asked if I’d caught anything. I wanted to say how much I had learned from Wisdom Rock and that I received really solid guidance but instead I said, Nope…but it’s a glorious day.

Society expects us to catch a fish if we are fishing and if we don’t we are failures. That’s certainly the message I tell myself from old societal programming. But what if success wasn’t measured by how many fish we land, but how much wisdom we accumulated on the wade up the creek. Wouldn’t that be something.

As I walked down the trail, I came upon a dragonfly that appeared to be dancing on the surface of a small stream…dipping her tail over and over again in a bouncing dance. It was so amazing to observe her and see one of the mysteries of the creek revealed. Trout will feed on the larvae but many will survive to become dragonflies. How amazing is that?!?

The first cast this morning at the magic pool ended with me hooking myself in the upper arm in a location I couldn’t reach without taking off my vest and squirming a bit. I think it was a reminder that this journey is all about learning more about myself…each of us is on that journey in our own way. All the answers are already within us. We simply have to be still and listen or in my case, sit on a rock in the middle of a creek.


And to add to the incredible teachings coming from Nature through fly fishing, I found another large, black feather. This black feather journey started when I began yoga teacher training and recently has amped up so much that I ask every black bird I see to share its teaching and of course thank it. I even had a recently-fledged juvenile crow hop in front of me a few weeks ago after I caught a big trout. That was the same day a white-tailed doe watched me land that trout. I have entered the realm of Nature Magic. And it’s a very special place in which to find myself.

NOTE: According to Ted Andrews, Nature Speak, crow symbolizes the secret magic of creation. Crow is the smartest of birds, has a complex language. Working with crows, according to Andrews, can help people see how the winds are going to blow in life and how to adjust our flights. His grandfather told him crows are symbolic of luck. Magic is the Medicine of crows. “They are symbols of creation and spiritual strength. They remind us to look for opportunities to create and manifest the magic of life and they are messengers calling to us about the creation and magic that is alive within our world everyday and available to us.

And dragonflies….the eggs eventually develop into a nymph and remain in the nymph form for almost two years before transforming into an adult dragonfly. Andrews wrote that their realm is the realm of light…spending time outside near fresh water will be beneficial…(no kidding). The dragonfly reminds us that change is coming and that we are light and can reflect light in powerful ways. It helps us cut through illusions and allows our own light to shine brightly. “Dragonfly brings the brightness of transformation and the wonder of a colorful new vision.”

The Jedi is a Rainbow

The Jedi is a Rainbow

Saturday night there was a big insect hatch at the creek so Sunday the fish were stuffed and completely uninterested in eating. Sort of like eating the entire pizza myself and then not eating the next day…not that I’d ever do that. Today felt like a day they might be hungry so I worked on an online yoga class this morning and went out this afternoon to try my luck at wading in the creek and meeting the Jedi Master Trout in my favorite creek.

The water level looked a bit lower as I drove along the Oconoluftee River…was glad to see that as the creek I fish in feeds into the ‘Luftee so I was hoping the flow would be down a bit in my little bit of heaven. 

It was in the mid 60’s and overcast. As I gazed into the creek and then to my fly box, I listened to the prompt that would guide me about choosing a fly. If I was a trout today, what would I be eating? Sparkly, yummy nymphs. So…I chose a lightning bug nymph. 

Once my gear was set up, I put on the waders and boots, adjusted my hip pack and unfolded my wading staff…probably the most helpful gear I have. I strolled up stream along the road and then stepped down to the creek when the bank became less steep. 

Something about that first step into clear, flowing water…everything else melted away and I was completely present with the creek, rocks, trees, insects…and hopefully the fish. Fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park reminds me of cave diving in that it’s a bit gear intensive but thankfully I’m not hauling around two steel scuba cylinders. And like cave diving, the focus must be 100%.  If your mind wanders you can fall and lose gear or hurt yourself. There is an unmistakable call to be completely in the moment. 

It didn’t take long to catch a brown trout. The little six or seven inch fish was beautiful but quite unruly. I dipped my hand into the water to steady it so I could remove the barbless hook and release the fish. The fish decided to flip out, literally, and in so doing untied my awesomely unimproved improved clinch knot. So maybe that sparkly tiny little lightning bug fly will find its way out of the trout’s lip. Otherwise she or he has a piercing with a small bit of bling.

I’m not quite comfortable changing flys in the creek yet so I waded out and knelt in a dry creek bed and once again looked into the magic box…what would I like to eat if I was a trout? Oh, a little copper john fly. I mean little. This time I made sure I got the improved part of the clinch knot and walked back to the water.

A few casts and I had another little trout and it was really little and danced and spit the fly out and flashed me a naughty little sign with its tail as it sped back into the cold water. I stood there happy as I could be. The water pushed against my legs, the green leaves of spring created a tunnel and the rocks gave patterns and flow to the cold creek. Totally present. Nothing else existed…just Nature and me and there wasn’t even separation between us. It was just beauty coexisting with all life.

Eventually the sound of rushing water called me upstream and so I carefully waded. One thing I am learning is that wading in this fast-moving water is an art, a carefully choregraphed dance with the elements.

There was a nice series of areas with flat, smooth water where I knew trout were hanging out. I felt it. In the distance I saw a large rock and deep pool and so I gradually worked my way toward that sweet spot. It had a little rapid above so the water was well-oxygenated, the big rocks and deep pool offered protection and it was freaking beautiful. What trout wouldn’t live there?

As I carefully approached, I checked for overhead trees and gazed into that clear, deep, cold water…You are coming to me. I spoke those words, prepared for a rolling cast…another one…one more a bit closer to the rock and BAM! I mean BAMBAMBAM! This was a big trout. My Jedi trout had arrived.

The fish fought and leaped out of the water and I was squealing with delight and wondering how the heck I would land this monster. I mean…compared to the seven inch one…this guy had major muscle and knew what to do. These are wild trout, not hatchery raised here. I kept hearing the guide I went fishing with a few weeks ago in my head….Keep your rod tip up…swing it around to you. I got him (or her) into the shallow area around my feet and he took off again but stayed in a little pool. I bent down and kept him in the water as I gently held him…he needed a bit more than a gentle grip, but I finally got him to calm down, took a quick photo of him in the water and threw my phone on the shore. Then I removed the hook from his upper lip and relaxed my grip a bit but kept him there for a moment to recover from the fight and hook removal. Then he was ready to swim off and did so with a relaxed little shuffle back to his lair, to the pool and cold, deep water.

I estimated him to be at least 12 inches in length and quite a beautiful rainbow trout. He initiated me into what it means to fly fish…to stalk, to be patient, to react quickly, to handle a fish with care and keep it in the water while removing the hook (did I mention it was barbless? All my hooks are barbless). It was like the teacher showed up and I was ready…a humble student with an open mind. I always begin the excursion with this little request…teach me today wise trout. Help me learn about this magnificent place.

After that I felt ready to go home. Nothing else could top that experience. I looked at my watch…over two hours had passed but I had no idea…such was the state of bliss in which I found myself. 

I secured my line and gear and headed for the trail up from the rocky shore. As I stepped up, a white-tailed deer stood within twenty feet of me—watching, wondering, eating. I slowly unzipped the chest pocket on my waders and removed my phone. I took a few photographs and waited for her to decide what she wanted to do. It felt like I was in a magical realm that was rich with possibility. I half expected a bear to waltz out or Yeti to invite me for cocktails. It was a bit surreal.

I knew from the beginning that fly fishing was more—much more—than the fish. I’m finding it one of the most enriching experiences of my life…and I’ve had some amazing experiences diving in caves, the ocean, with whales and dolphins and manatees. This is something I can do where I live and it takes me into the most amazing place of peace and satisfaction with life. I feel myself sinking deeper into the rhythm of Nature each time I go. Every time I wade that creek, our friendship deepens. 

Besides the amazing beauty, a mystery was revealed today—my Jedi Trout Master is a Rainbow. I will always remember that pouty mouth, the tiny copper-john fly shining on his upper lip and the moment he became calm in my hand and allowed me to carefully remove the hook and set him free. Wild, wonderful Rainbow Jedi…thank you, teacher.

Befriending the Flow

Befriending the Flow

The force of the rushing water was pushing against my legs. I stood in the creek and allowed my body to feel the strength of the flow, the pressure somehow comforting instead of frightening. I’ve had a ‘thing’ with fast-moving water for many years. It’s a control thing…you know…I can’t stop the flow of water pushing me, pushing anything in its path. I don’t know when it started but it really amped up when I was learning to cave dive in the high-flow caves of north Florida.

I wish I could admit to liking that flow but really the only time I did was when the dive was turned and the flow carried me back, effortlessly back to calmer waters, a safety stop and then the surface.

My former spouse signed me up for a swiftwater rescue training he was assisting with several years ago. I learned a lot but still found the flow intimidating. The swims we did were just above a nasty little rapid and every time we crossed I feared being swept off my feet and going through that washing machine of foamy water. Helmet, dry suit and PFD were all secure but it still scared me. And then I hurt myself by leaping into the water and knocking the living life out of my femur…I thought I had broken my leg it hurt so bad but it benched me and who could argue with that?

Swift water…running water…rushing water…white water. White from the turbulence of air mixed with water as it slams into rocks. You cannot fight it. You just can’t. I guess it’s like life. You can’t fight the flow of life.

So learning to fly fish here in the Smoky Mountains is giving me opportunity to really embrace the flow and stand in it and with it and even sit in it.

Waders make wading in these cold streams comfortable but they also create a lot of drag and resistance. A wading staff makes it so much easier. Having something to lean on that supports me as I step over and around slippery rocks is vital. Every time I pick up my foot in knee-deep water the current tries to take it. But I’ve gotten used to the sensation.

Yesterday found me at ease in the flow…comfortable and making friends with the water that was rushing past. Last week that same creek took my wading staff but also returned it after I spent two hours fishing and learning to trust the creek, trust myself. After fishing I walked downstream and it was waiting for me, pushed up against the shore. 

I’ve called these trout my Jedi masters as they teach me about their wisdom, the water, the insects but mostly about myself.

As that flow pushed against me yesterday I stood in open acceptance of it. I found stillness within and went into a meditative state of Oneness with the water, trees, trout, rocks, chilly air. Everything else faded as I walked deeper into the creek, the forest and my own depths.

Learning what we have control of and what we don’t have control of is part of the process of healing as a human being. Learning to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference….the Serenity Prayer. I cannot change the flow of the river but I can learn how to navigate it and little-by-little befriend that precious, life-giving flow.

While fly fishing yesterday I had one hard strike that made me squeal but not one other nibble…so of course I’ll return again and again to learn from those Jedi Trout. I’m so grateful they called me to the water. I’m making progress fly fishing and in navigating our beautiful creeks and rivers…today while using my housing I actually sat down in the flow and held my housing in a little rapid. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so peaceful. The flowing water showed me just how beautiful it really is…when I stop trying to fight it.

Just a shout out to Miss Mayfly Waders…they are amazing and come in sizes to fit different women’s body types. I am so happy to have them in my adventure kit.

The Flow

The Flow

Sometimes I stand at the edge of flowing water and am overwhelmed that it flows….and flows….and flows….and flows. It’s easy if I walk by with just an appreciative glance and continue on my way. But when I take the time to allow the flow to move me…move within me…I am inevitably drawn to the idea of this universal flow of life that is constant, ever-offering itself to us. Every moment. Every day. On and on and on. And sometimes it feels as if it’s just too much to take in, to receive.

Waterfalls especially remind me of the universal flow of abundance. The ones with a high flow volume seem to invite me to open deeper and present the question, Can you open more…and then a little more…and how about just a little bit more. As I stand at the base of the falls where the water is perpetually pounding the rocks below, I think of the flow of abundance of Life Force and Love available to all of us and often discover a bit of discomfort at my inability to open and receive. 

The other day I was wading up Bradley Fork creek and in one place the water was rushing a bit faster. I had to stop, not so much because it was faster water but because I thought of that endless flow of energy, illustrated by the creek’s flow, and it felt overwhelming for just a moment. Wow…this flow…it’s always flowing…can I stand in the middle of it? Can I open to it and be part of it?

Do I expect the Source to dry up? When I discover it never stops can I take in the goodness, the perpetual flow of Life presenting itself to me?

I suspect we are a cynical people. Blasted with bad news in a non-stop media circus that makes huge amounts of money on delivering the sad, the bad and the ugly we are programmed to expect a flow of negative experience and have hardened defenses erected to protect our beautiful selves from this onslaught of misery. 

When the flow of goodness and joy and life-enhancing experiences come our way, we might miss them or even block them if our defenses detect an intruder into our lives. So we might walk past the waterfall rather than stop and see if that Life Force can open the crevices in our defenses and risk feeling….anything.

Maybe this is just a personal experience and unique only to me…but I doubt it. 

I sit here this morning reflecting on the many times flowing water has challenged me, scared me. You cannot stop the flow. You cannot fight the flow; you must work with it. If you fall into whitewater you must surrender to the flow, look downstream, keep your feet up and ride the river…wait for an eddy. Perhaps it’s the surrender part that scares me. Letting go of control…..

If I open myself to the flow of Life it will carry me but what if I don’t want to go there? What if it takes me places that are frightening? Or….what if it takes me to incredible experiences of love and joy? When we surrender we let go of control. We trust the flow of goodness and ride the flow, become the river. 

Trying to control life keeps us from experiencing it. That’s what flowing water teaches me. I’m not suggesting we literally jump into a waterfall to gain understanding of this principle but I am suggesting allowing the waterfall to assist us in trusting the flow, opening to it and allowing it to carry us to new understanding of living. Of freedom.