This particular weekend was no different, as my mind was spinning with thoughts of leaving my home state of West Virginia.
On the way home I reflected on the weekend and all I could think of was Jimmy V's 1993 Espy speech. To begin with, I am a huge fan of motivational speakers and this particular speech was THE best I have ever had the fortune to see (live).
One of the points I always think of from this is his three items to a full life, which is a daily requirement to spend time in laughter, thought, and emotions moved to tears....back to the report.
This weekend was planned around the fall State Council meeting for West Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The plan was to begin Friday with a hike to Chimney Tops on North Fork Mountain. Saturday would be a backpack stocking followed by State Council and Sunday would be a quick trip to another new brookie stream on the way home.
It was a beautiful late-summer day, perfect weather for a hike.The hike up was uneventful and no matter how much description I put into it, it will never come close to describing what it was actually like up there. I won't try to describe it, I'll let the photos do that and remember: photos are one-dimensional.
There are not many places in West Virginia where you have a full 360-degree view.
While we were on top I took time to relax and think. I couldn't help but think this would be the one and only time I would make this journey. The view itself was enough to move you but the thoughts of it being the last time I would see it put a lump in my throat. This is the point where I started to think of Jimmy V.
I had to put those thoughts behind me, as it was time to make the hike back down to the trailhead. On the way down we stopped again to check out the views of the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac (that's a mouthful) valley. For perspective, check out the riverside cabins, in the background left, as my new friend took a break.
Once back at the vehicle it was time to temporarily part ways. We would all meet back up at the 4H camp at Thornwood and the location of our State Council meeting.
I picked up a few more fish as I moved up stream; including this male that was starting his fall transition. He had magnificent colors and was beginning to form a nice kype and hump on his back.On upstream I ran into a couple of decent pools, the first was protected by a large downfall. This downfall also protected the very large inhabitant of that pool, an easy 12"+ brook trout. I ended up spooking that large specimen as I tried to get a fly to the water. You'll have that from time to time. That's probably how that fish got that large - sometimes it's nice to know those guys are out there.
The next large pool had a large log across the head, which created a very nice pool. I could see something making wakes in the pool so I came in low and limited my back casts. I made several nice presentations in the pool and was about ready to give up when this girl finely cooperated.
Excuse the poor quality of the photo but you can easily see this is a fish in the 8"-10" range, a trophy anywhere.
This was a great way to end a wonderful day, so it was time to pack it in and head for camp.
Once the mules were packed, the backpackers (including me) went to the top of Middle Mountain where we would take three different routes off the mountain. Once you find the stream at the bottom, you pick up the Laurel Fork trail, and hoof it back to the campground.
I found a nice stretch of water to place my pack full of fish. Several brown trout fingerlings now call this pool home.
Before heading home I made one more stop, with the thought: "would this be my last visit here as well?"
After my final stop of the day it was back over Cheat Mountain. As I crested Cheat Mountain the thoughts haunted me again, as they had done all weekend. Multiple times that weekend, as I rounded many turns, as I crested several mountains, as I passed several incredible vistas, I thought to myself: will this be the last time?