I’ve always been a loner preferring. When I used to hang out with Jim Beam it worked best by myself. When I explore a river that, too, works best when alone, discovering its well-kept, isolated niches and secrets in the roaring silence of my own madness. Then sometime later comes the fun of sharing these finds with a dear friend, most often my wife, Ginny. Such is often the case on the Yellowstone. With more than 500 miles to paddle from below Yellowstone Park before reaching the confluence with the Missouri at Fort Buford, North Dakota the river holds wonders at every bend: thousands of geese taking flight during a day of October perfection; an enormous brown trout taken near Hysham on a Stimulator that was cast for the mindless pleasure of watching it bob and twirl in the current; northerns on streamers below Glendive between searches for moss agates; a band of thirty or so pheasants doing nothing but standing dead still on the edge of a field above Forsyth; a chunk of meteor slamming into the river in a blast of steam and sound one evening with the Crazy Mountains laughing in the western sky. Maybe I’d have tripped across all of this while in the company of a half dozen other souls, but I tend to doubt it. The best magic is that revealed in solitude or with one other. It’s always been that way. As Wee Willie Keeler said a long time ago, “I keep my eyes clear and I hit ’em where they ain’t.”


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