Last Saturday Ked and I arose at 6 am, well before sunrise, had a quick breakfast, and were on our way before anyone else in his clan of 11 was stirring, escaping the (mostly) delightful and (inevitably) raucous escapades of the five grandchildren for a few hours of well-earned tranquility. It was Labor Day weekend, and I’d flown down from home to visit, spending most of my week’s visit with my 100-year-old mom, but she had given her full blessing for me to go to Ked’s getaway in the far-western part of North Carolina for the weekend. We were already well up in the mountains, but today’s drive took us another 1,000 feet or so higher, to a small (46-acre) lake that was several upstream from the one on which Ked had built his place. It was a lovely morning, perfectly calm, with a light blanket of mist softening the details of the shoreline structures. We loaded our few things into his little plastic canoe—very quietly, so as not to disturb the ethereal tranquility, and
gently pushed off onto the mirror surface of the dark water.
Over the course of the next five hours, we paddled softly from one end of the lake
to the other, gently fly-fishing as we went. The small fish were quite ready to take our flies, and some three dozen came briefly to see us close-up, then went back, more or less happily on their ways, not much the worse for the experience. Toward the end of the morning, we followed a small bay to its source at the upstream end of the lake, to where a feeder stream entered among a jumble of large boulders and we wedged our little craft’s bow between two of them and scrambled up to see what lay beyond.
The little stream wound gently through the beautiful forest. I slipped my shoes off and we waded up to where our further progress was blocked by a steep head of the small valley, as it laughed down in a series of small but very rugged waterfalls. We had been alternating presenting our flies as we explored, and it was Ked’s turn as we reached the last pool. After several careful casts with his tiny Royal Coachman, a small brook trout accepted his offering—his first wild trout.
Fulfilled, refreshed, and rejuvenated from our morning of serenity, we happily made our way back down the road and rejoined the rest of the family, ready for anything else that the day might bring.