SEA TO SHINING SEA: The Holy Grail for Fly Fishing

Black-tail deer greeted us this morning.
June 17, 2013

DAY 34 – June 16, 2013 - Home on the range across America.

“Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play.

“Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

We woke with the sun just beginning to define the ridge and three black-tailed deer looking down on our campsite from a short rise thirty feet away.

Later in the day, riding across the prairie between mountains and the Madison River, we saw a single antelope grazing. We stopped and it looked at us curiously. Then it came walking toward us for a closer look. It was the first of several we saw during the day.

No buffalo yet, except on menus as burgers.

I was thinking about Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post today. Many years ago several local journalists under the direction of Trish made a pilgrimage to the capitol to tour the Post's newsroom. Bradlee may or may not have made an appearance but I remember them being impressed with something he said – whether he said it himself or whether another quoted him. It was about facts and truth, two things newspapers deal with regularly. What Bradlee stressed was that facts and truth aren't the same thing. I think the example he used involved President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. He said it was a fact that Nixon said he was not a crook. But it was not the truth.

I bring this up because I'm quoting a lot of people who I meet on this journey. I am trying to accurately bring to you what they tell me. However, I don't have a fact-checking department with me, so all I can promise is that I'm reporting factually, though some of it may not be truthful. Nonetheless I'm not reporting anything that I have reason to believe is a bunch of bull hockey.

For example, today at the camp store I was talking to Ron EagleElk. He had fly-tying glasses perched on his forehead, wore a fishing shirt and a long pony tail and told me that's his real name and he is of the Lakota tribe of South Dakota. Surrounding Ron in the store were bins filled with fishing flies and on a back wall racks of feathers for sale to those who want to tie their own flies.

“What's the river out the back door,” I asked.

“That's the Madison,” Ron said.

“Does it justify all these flies and all those feathers?”

Ron didn't hesitate. “That right there is the Holy Grail for fly fishermen,” he said. “That and two of its forks are considered the three top fly fishing rivers in the US. Brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout. And big ones. You're allowed to keep a certain number here each day but many of us think the limit's too high.” He pointed to petitions on the counter. “We're trying to get that changed.”

Those are all facts. I don't know how good the Madison River is but my friend Andy used to come fly-fishing out here with his dad and he always talked about this Yellowstone region being the best. To my ears, Ron's story had the ring of truth.

So there you have it.

Another fine day of pedaling, mostly along the Madison River, with the peaks growing taller and more jagged, and the air I'm smelling as I write this filled with the clean scent of pine.

We logged 63 miles today. Not easy miles, but good ones. Averaged 10.3 mph running against the current of the Madison. Tomorrow we will roll into West Yellowstone about 25 miles from where we're camped.

Have some work to do and laundry too.

Our total as of today is up to 1,339 miles.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this. This is Sunday night so once again I will say Praise God from whom all blessings flow. This won't get posted until Monday because there's no reception here. And someone please tell Fredman to tell his Aunt Rose that there sure are a lot of mountains in Montana.

Oh yeah, one more thing. The Orioles beat the Red Sox today in Baltimore. They took three out of four from the Beantowners who were in first place in their division. They might be tied now. Go Os!


PPS - Just getting around to posting this Monday afternoon.  We biked into West Yellowstone this morning.  23 miles.  Averaged about 10.  Brings our total to 1,362.

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