From a distance you can see it, hidden in the trees. As I wind up the long driveway, the sight of woodsmoke curling out of the chimney and hanging in the still cold air is both inviting and comforting. Turning in to park in my old familiar spot, tires crunch gravel and then quiet as they roll over the bed of needles that has accumulated over the decades. I open the door of the truck and am greeted by the familiar smell of the river, and wet fir and cedar trees.I stand for a moment,engulfed in the sweet smell of well seasoned wood in the old iron stove. My nostrils flair as they detect the hint of something delicious cooking in the crock pot. Voices from inside escape through the walls, uncontainable in the small space. I hear familiar voices, happy voices....I am home! I climb the stairs to the front door and open it to a cacophony of greetings from my dearest friends.
The second I cross the thresh hold of the entry way, I feel instantly free. I just left the weight of the world, work, etc on the front porch when I came in. Old friendships long separated are rekindled here.New friendships are made. The deep and unchanged friendships of my closest friends grow ever stronger with every passing day.I instantly get an update on everything that has happened on the river since I have been there last. What's fishing,what isn't. Memorable encounters with fish are retold with an excitement that gets to your core. We are kindred spirits involved in a life long pursuit of a fish that defies description. The Shack is the gathering place, bunkhouse, war room, the dining hall, marriage counselor,psychiatrist couch,matchmaker,the saloon, poker hall, hospital,concert hall,movie theater, fly shop, and fly tying room. It is more than a place to get in out of the rain. It has become a part of the whole experience. It is a humble place, nothing fancy here, in fact the rods,reels,assorted tackle and fly tying material are probably worth more than the building itself in actual dollars. We wouldn't trade that old shack in for anything, to do so would take a piece of us with it.
As the fall weather starts to move in, start heading for your Shack. They can be found on steelhead rivers throughout the NW. They are places of warmth and refuge for us wandering souls.Remember,as we all travel on this endless pursuit for the uncatchable fish,and that unreachable lie,it's the times spent in The Shack building relationships that are often most memorable.