The sun is high overhead as I step out of the trees, drop my pack and flop down on the grass, watching the wind send long ripples across the lake. Bear, my grey-muzzled companion, quenches his thirst in the cool water We’ve been hiking all day and while my legs and lungs feel the mileage, the thick pine canopy shielded me from the intense summer sun during the hike from the trailhead. Exposed now to its golden warmth, I feel languid and dreamy. We have all weekend to fish, I think to myself, as I close my eyes and drift off. I awake to see that Bear has started fishing without me. He is stalking the shallows, ears perked forward, his head snapping left and right as slick cutthroats dart away at his approach. I can t help but smile. This is exactly why we hiked for five hours, climbing 4,000 feet, to fish this remote alpine lake. Nobody’s here to complain about him spooking the fish.
A few weeks earlier we’d taken a trip to the Beaverhead River near Dillon, Montana. The spot I’d chosen was a popular one and before long there were fishermen lined up at uncomfortably close intervals over the entire 200-yard stretch of water. I squeezed into a good spot and had just hooked a nice rainbow when I heard an angry voice behind me.
“I’m gonna kick that damn dog,” came the gruff proclamation, and I turned to see a heavyset man wading toward the bank, where Bear had his nose buried in the man’s gear, searching for whatever it is dogs always search for in piles of human stuff. I intentionally broke off my fish (a painful high country.