Skeena Dreaming

*Kate is a guide for Northern Outback Adventures, but shares her off season adventures with us*

With Google Map- saved screen shots, road food (granola, apples, peanut butter, coffee and slightly too much Baileys) and a mound of gore-tex piled in between us, we stuffed our bodies into a Ford Focus, half exhausted from the work week, but fully giddy for the planned (but unplanned) adventure ahead of us, and headed west into the heart of Skeena country.

We had been hit with the steelhead virus-the Mykiss Virus; but, instead of us withering away from an ailment, it was our wallets withering, our 'real' jobs taking a hit, and our conversations, Intagram accounts and daily life suffering from a steelhead dream. The Skeena stole our hearts, enamoured our lives with flashes of chrome and filled our eyes with salmon-filled rivers, bear-lined banks and bouldering back-country. We were in love. We were in love with the river, in love with every other person we met after hiking in, crawling and clambering over fallen cedars and skirting around steep embankments, grasping at twigs, thistles and other semi-hypodermic needle-like plants (because they must have been awesome to go anywhere off the beaten path) and in love with the wild anadromous fish. We fell in love with Steelhead.

We both (an East-Coaster and I) sat waiting by our respective mail boxes for the postal worker to deliver our new dry lines. His came, mine didn't; so I was forced to create my own tapered dry line (which I stubbornly blamed for not allowing me to land a fish). We loaded up the Ford Focus, which was full of classic flies dangling from the roof like some sort of beach-based Mexican cantina, full of merino wool, sleeping bags, a stove top espresso maker, possibly bootlegged moonshine (he is a Maritimer after all) and a tent. We hit the road far later than we should have, (I was on the phone with the post office begging for my line to come), because we arrived at midnight, in the pouring rain, with a tent that I can never seem to figure out how to set up because you need a degree in physics and structural engineering. Why did we set it up? I have no idea, but it took us two hours in the rain, cloud covered darkness and a headlamp that wasn't bright enough. We got it up, and it didn't collapse, but we didn't sleep in it again.

a pathetic attempt at setting the tent up

At day break we woke, I stumbled up, no coffee, no breakfast, just straight into waders, lining our rods and examining our fly boxes in respect to the water clarity, volume and overall fishyness. We stumbled down (me still lacking coffee), to a