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The creek looks busier than it is and I’m glad for loafing. Folks haul their trucks and trailers with ATVs and Campers thirty miles up the gravel road and off into the sage and cheatgrass next to the stream. They produce from wheeled tin sheds folding chairs and tables, coolers of beer and clandestine fireworks and do the same thing they do in the office. Sit. Looking, not watching.
I walk down a gravel road to the bridge and pace, looking flummoxed, until the Dad with his wife and his kid on the ATV at the gravel bar say it’ll probably be easiest to just slide on by them as opposed to crashing through willows. Don’t want to impose. He suggests I walk upstream where the hill looks as though it’s sloughing off into the stream, there’s a big pool there. I don’t catch any along that face of the changing west. They’ve always happened, they happen more often when freeze-thaw season is lengthened by a week or two. It’s been nearly a decade since I visited this part of the west and even out here, miles down a gravel road, thick smoke from fires hanging over ridgetops…you wonder what it’ll look like in another decade.