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Another dozen trout—browns, rainbows, Yellowstone cutthroat—take a Joe’s Hopper that still rides high in the water despite being chewed ragged. All of these fish are strong, fat, healthy. The sun is dropping down towards the horizon the light turning from yellow to deep orange, shadows lengthening across the river. A modest island holding tall cottonwoods surrounded in wild roses and grass looms just ahead. We beach the canoe, haul all of our gear and goods well back from the water to a sandy rise where we set up camp next to a modest, well-used fire ring. Tent, cooking, and gear stowage areas are established and within thirty minutes a small fire is going, steaks are seasoned. Ginny and I recline against a smooth, grey cottonwood trunk. A steady but diminishing stream of anglers drifts past. The browning grasslands of covering alluvial fans that poured out from Absaroka canyons lead smoothly to steeper slopes covered in dense pine forest then sheer granite cliffs and sway-backed escarpments connecting ragged peaks and finally a darkening blue sky. We enjoy the view comfortable in the easy silence that comes from countless days sharing good country together. We are comfortable on this river that is so much a part of our home that waits for us only a couple of dozen miles dowstream.


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