“I’m heading up to Brice Lake to do some fishing. How about coming along?” My father was calling to me from out in the garage.
“Sure! Let me get my stuff out.” I had already made plans for the afternoon, but my dad was a busy man and I rarely had a chance to go fishing with him. We loaded the yellow canvas canoe on our battered station wagon, packed a sack lunch, and were on our way.
It was overcast, and in the distance, rain was pouring from the clouds. Our destination was in Chestnutt Canyon, a seldom-frequented mountain valley. Brice Lake was fed by icy streams and could only be reached by an arduous dirt path.
As the car crept along the precarious switchbacks, I attempted to strike up a conversation; however, it soon tapered off. An occasional roar of thunder was all that could be heard over the constant whine of the straining engine. By then, we had passed through four Alpine showers and the monotonous swoosh of the windshield wipers began droning me to sleep.
With a jerk I awoke, dripping with water. A chuckle sounded behind me, and turning, I saw my father holding an empty cup and wiping his hands dry. We unlashed the heavy canoe, tied our equipment inside, and hefted it upon our backs.
Hiking up the slippery mud trail into the dark and dripping forest, we caught the aromatic scents of pine and aspen. The crisp air held the taste of recent storm, and its moisture tickled the back of the throat. At times, I lost my footing and would fall with a crash; but my father, being patient, would ask if I was all right, then help me up. Nothing more was said as we trekked along, taking in the environment and the joy of being together as conversation.
We laid the old canoe in the water and shoved off. There was no need to call strokes since we almost read each other’s thoughts. Slicing through the clear water to an already prearranged spot, we began our day. We sat through two thundershowers, weaving our lines with the lake as we glided along the banks, not speaking often but with perfect communication.
That day we caught no fish and spoke less than 20 words, but we had shared something, something difficult to express in words. I knew my father loved and cared about me, and I loved and cared about him. It was a time when the feelings between us were so clear yet unspoken. I had begun to know my father, a strong and quiet man, one that cared about others and the world around him.
Loading up the gear, we left for home. While coming out of the mountains, we viewed the valley below, pierced with majestic pillars of sunlight. I was glad I’d come.