29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
-Matthew 24:29-31 (King James Version)
According to American Christian radio host Harold Camping the Rapture was supposed to occur this past weekend. So God’s people would be taken up to heaven and the rest would remain on Earth for a few more months of tribulation before the end of the world later on this year.
It just so happened that a friend and I had out annual spring backpack in the White Mountains planned for this weekend. Despite the ominous prediction, we figured we might as well do our trip. After all, if the event did occur, we would get one more fishing trip in and if it didn’t, well at least we would get one more fishing trip in. Win-win.
While the Rapture never came to pass, some tribulations did. Yet , in the end, we did find our slice of heaven.
Things started off well enough. We hiked in and found our favorite riverside campsite was open albeit without the water pot someone left there years ago which has become as much a part of it as the fire ring and towering ponderosa pine. After a hasty construction of camp we immediately set off downstream with rod in hand. We found some willing fish and it looked like smooth sailing. That is about when thing started to deteriorate. Only a few pools down, we spotted some folks in another camp. There was an additional group farther downstream and another came in as we were heading back. Finally a fourth party arrived who were set up just upstream of us. This was going to be tough with this many anglers working the pools. On the bright side, I found the pot and returned it to its home.
The next morning, the predicted date of Rapture, we headed upstream already beat to the punch by several anglers. We proceeded slowly as to allow each pool a bit of rest between the others and us. Not surprisingly, we never found a particularly “hot” pattern. We had to work hard for each fish, but still managed an occasional trout or bass. After a couple miles, Brian continued upstream and I turned back to hit the pools below again on the way back to camp. A rather large and fat smallmouth inhaled a pheasant tail nymph which I found a little odd, but pleasing. Later in the evening, Brian landed a very nice brown while I struggled to fool many fish up top despite active risers to a pale dun spinner fall. The day of the Rapture had passed.
The next day we hoped our fortunes would improve as most of the other campers headed out of the canyon. We again worked upstream and after several miles had little to show for it. Except for one fish, all of our reliable pools had failed to produce. At least we were alone and enjoying the solitude. In the mid-afternoon Brian had an epiphany. Although this water is usually not a great dry fly river, he began picking up fish on a stimulator. I quickly tied one on and immediately began to get into fish myself. So we tossed dries and before we knew it, the day slipped away from us. Hoping to catch the pale dun spinner fall again in the evening near camp we had to hustle back, bypassing a lot of good water.
Spending evenings along the water in a canyon carved out the mountains can be a spiritual experience for a fly fisher. The sun disappears behind the rim and the cool air sinks down canyon with a subtle breeze. The invertebrate drift picks up and, if you are lucky, you get a hatch or a spinner fall of mayflies. This particular evening as dusk approached, the pale duns appeared again on queue and we found a run just above camp where the fish were rising to them. It only took a couple drifts before I took a nice fish. Almost immediately another trout assumed its station and began feeding allowing Brian a chance. We took turns casting to one replacement riser after another. Caught in the rhythms of the water, casting, and fading light I could not help but feel we were in heaven or at least in the kind of spiritual state we pray for. It was a beauty and grace beyond the capability of man’s creation.
After some minor trials a tribulations, we had truly been blessed.