Tag: Nature Photography

A Surprise on the Creek

A Surprise on the Creek

A few feet from me, the trout rose to the surface and sighted the fly as it slowly drifted down the run. It was like an athlete carefully watching as a ball was hurled toward it and then…BAM! It caught the fly with a quick slurp. 

I’m always learning from the trout magi. Something new is revealed each time I wade and wander in the creeks and rivers of the Smoky Mountains. But besides having really good interactions with trout today, I recovered something I lost a week ago, when the water was running higher and I couldn’t reach it. And I couldn’t have been happier.

Last week, I was casting to a beautiful, deep hole, over a seam of really fast water. The elk hair caddis—with an orange hot spot for sighting—was popular with the trout that day. And then, a cast drifted a little too close to a submerged log and got stuck. I had no choice but to break off and leave the fly. It was too dangerous to wade across and rescue it. 

Today, the fly was waiting for me and the water was down a lot. I cast to the pool first but was so excited to see my fly, I stowed the fly line and waded across to retrieve the fly.

The hair and feather creation was really soggy but as soon as I waded back across the creek, I changed tippet and tied this lucky fly on. I squeezed it mostly-dry and added some gel flotant and off we went, casting and dancing with trout. 

There’s something so fun about finding something I thought I had lost. Even though it was a little fly and I hadn’t thought about it since losing it last week, it gave me great pleasure to rescue it and use it to interact with trout again.

As I waded and cast, I pondered the metaphor of re-discovering something in life that we thought was gone. Maybe an idea or dream, a skill, a friend, a job. Sometimes it’s about physically ‘finding’ a lost object, but other times it might involve re-claiming a talent or simply remembering to pause and let our heart feel love, gratitude.

The idea of letting go has been in my mind and heart lately. Letting go of how I expect or want plans to work out and being present enough to navigate daily from an informed present moment instead of trying to guess what the future holds and make decisions from that weird place. 

I was bummed about losing the fly last week, but didn’t waste energy fretting or worrying about it. I simply let it go. And then, I was thrilled it was there waiting on my return today. It’s a little ‘thing’ but holds space for much bigger ideas about letting go, waiting on the right timing, waiting on better conditions before proceeding. 

What have you rediscovered lately that has been a good surprise? How has it affected you?

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.



I pause a moment. Just a moment though, because I am so anxious for your embrace. I breathe in and out, in and out. Sweet agony.

With tender care, I step from the soft, green moss into you. Sensations of bliss start at my feet and make their way up my body. Rapture to be held by you once again. Time away has only fueled the passion.

Your cool waters are moving rapidly, but I feel safe as your pressure pushes against my legs. I wait to unhook the fly from the rod, too caught up in the feelings of my body and arising from my heart. I am so smitten by your beauty, so in love with you and the rocks and trees and flowers that live, move and have their being in your presence.

Finally, I began to cast the fly line and watch as the fly gracefully lands and floats downstream. Again and again I cast, to a smooth run, a riffle, above the rock. Wade and cast…drift….breathe. Wade and cast….drift…breathe. Upstream I move, everything else no longer exists. It’s just you and me and the trees and rocks and moss and flowers and blue sky peeking through overhanging leafy branches.

Finally, a slight tug, a gentle snap of my wrist and we’re dancing with a rainbow. Then watching her swim away, quickly released with deep gratitude for the connection.

On it continues, the wading, the casting, the dancing. The bliss. And then, I’ve danced enough and leave the trout to their day as I walk back down the trail.

You call to me as I near the trail’s end, ‘just one more embrace, just one more moment.’ So I wade into you again and duck under rhododendron branches to the place…you remember the one…where the master lives.

You are deep here, very deep, and you are moving fast so I stay in the shallows and cast to the realm of her: the majestic rainbow that teases me and teaches me humility.

On the third cast, my fly lands softly, perfectly, then disappears. ‘Where is it I wonder’ and strip line instead of setting the hook. She rolls up, her massive silver side giving evidence to her guru status. She releases the fly and giggles. I swear she giggles. And the laughter is contagious so I laugh as well. And then you laugh and it’s a love fest, here in the mountains where you and I first met.

I turn to leave, but you ask, ‘why have you stayed away so long, lover?’ ‘The heat, the basement room flooding, you were raging a couple weeks…remember?’ I say. You respond, ‘oh, yes, I do have my moods,’ you respond. We smile as I promise, ‘I won’t stay away so long again.’ As I step from you, I turn and smile. ‘We truly are perfect lovers, you and I. We give each other space to have our feelings, our lives, and then when we come together, it’s pure magic.Thank you.’

I walk away, back to the other world but you cling to my legs and feet. We are never really apart, you and I. We remain in each other’s heart. Forever lovers.

If you want to experience the magic of fly fishing, contact me. I am a holistic fly fishing guide in the Smoky Mountains specializing in working with new fly anglers. www.wadingwomen.com. More info? Click here.

Twilight on the Creek

Twilight on the Creek

In that liminal space of twilight, the woods awakened. Gone were the busy people intent on a destination to a waterfall, a bridge, a mileage count. Here, the spirits of the woods emerged again to dance.

Thresholds…places of betwixt and between…places of power. Dawn gives way to light and brings hope and illumination. Twilight leads us to deeper and darker places, the richness of the Unknown opens before us and awakens us to the journey inward…deeper into our fears and hesitations.

I entered the water at twilight with the simple intention of coming back into balance. Alignment with all that is. Letting the water caress my feet and hands…coming home to myself. Arriving back ‘in’ Earth. 

As I stood in the water at the base of the falls, fireflies began to dance through the cool, night air. They guided me back down the trail as night enveloped me with Mystery.