Monday, September 3, 2012

Tucker to Bell Crossing, Bitterroot River

Posted By on Mon, Sep 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Low and slow is sometimes exactly what I want the water to be. Four of us chose an afternoon to float from Tucker to Bell Crossing. Some of us were anglers, other simply passengers. It turned out to be a classic evening on the Bitterroot—one where you forget what time it is and any reason for being anywhere else.

We stopped at an island on a bend in the river early on and wandered around—watching green algae wave in the slower current and marveling at the pale rocks, bleached like bone. One of us caught small fish after fish in one little hole behind an old strainer.

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The Bitterroot is a meander this time of year—with its wide flat curves and slow water, you find yourself half-dreaming—sleeping like the hot fish, the water a cool reprieve, but still not cool enough. Still pale green at shoreline, there are places where you can see the color drain away to gold and brown, asking you to relish the moisture you dangle your feet in.

I slipped off the side of the boat into a still-deep drop off along the bank and floated along with the boat for a while. Willows and brush quivered at the water’s edge. Aspen leaves wiggled against a blue, dry sky. At a low rocky curve in the river, a family played on shore, while we finagled our way through the shallows, getting hung up once, for just a moment.

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As we neared the put-in, the sky blushed pink and periwinkle and we pulled off for a few more moments of quiet. I thought briefly about the steady stream of floaters rolling through town on the Clark Fork and thought, “We made a good choice today.”

Quiet, mellow, cool and close. As the days dwindle and the heat wears on, the Bitterroot brings a quick and lovely reprieve.

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