There’s a guy with a paint roller using a step ladder as a straightedge to mark cadmium yellow lines along the handicap space in front of the liquor store outside Kemmerer.
It’s late season and I’m bouncing along a one-way rutted gravel road, braking for pronghorn and admiring soft blue lupine poking above mostly featureless range. Every once and again you turn a corner and catch glints of silver along the creek, among rank stands of willow and native cutthroat trout.
A young family skips stones off the bar by the bridge. They ask about the fishing. The real draw is downstream, big browns out of the lake, below the concrete dam they put up to restore this stretch.
I sneak behind them and work upstream, landing a little native cutthroat. In a time before the mountains they weren’t here, they may not have even existed yet, and the creek flowed into a river that flowed east instead of south, to a shrinking inland sea instead of the Gulf of California. These cutthroats came later, as rivers carved new mountains, transferring species between once-isolated headwaters.
A pretty, pale brook trout takes a Purple Haze on top and I sit.
There’s a clock running on these experiences.
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