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First One Up

As the morning sun’s rays cut through the tree line, I awake before my watch’s alarm chimes. I peel back the tent’s door and I slowly scan the campsite with a sleepy eye. Checking the surroundings to see if any of my friends are outside of their tents, or if I am about to spook a bear that may have wandered through a muted camp at dawn.

It was a long journey to the lake the night before. The winding, jagged dirt road slowly inched our tires forward at a crawling pace. We arrived late at the campsite and quickly set up our camp. Excitement of the adventure that lay before us took over and we lit a campfire and cracked open a couple of cold beers. We ended up talking, planning and playing several games of crib that went well into the night. It was myself and two of my closest fly fishing friends. Our three tents pitched in a triangle formation on the grassy part of the forest floor beside a lake we’ve never visited before, in an area we were unfamiliar with.

As I crawl out of my tent and make my way to the gear-table, I pour water into a pot and ignite a small backpacker’s stove. While I wait for the water to boil, I grab my rod tubes from the back of the truck and set them down on the table. I look back at the two other tents, no signs of life. I dig out my tackle box and begin to unravel its contents; reels, fly boxes and spools of tippet.

There’s something peaceful about being the first one up on a camping trip with friends. You get to enjoy some time to yourself which is an entirely different type of quiet. There’s a calmness in the air, the feeling of solitude. You get to experience the subtle sounds of nature like the birds chirping, the loons calling and the wind whistling through the trees. You’re on your own time – first one up.

The peacefulness can sometimes be paired alongside an eerie feeling of being alone. Senses are often heightened when a branch cracks or when the tree slightly swaying back and forth creaks. You find yourself staring into space waiting for movement, or the noise to reveal itself deep inside a wooded area. Your peripheral vision begins to twitch.

The water is boiling - my coffee is ready.

I start assembling the fly rods, aligning the guides and glance down the barrel to ensure they are all assembled straight in line. I attach the reel and thread the line through each guide with ease and precision. The morning air which once felt brisk, begins to warm up as I move around the campsite. I open up my fly box and carefully select the first fly pattern for each fly line. My day is ready, I am ready.

I take my time and sip on my coffee as I peer out to the lake. The crisp mountain air fills my lungs, as I scan the shoreline for any signs of trout activity on the lake. The water is like glass, still and calm, reflecting the trees that stand guard along the shoreline. At any second, the tranquility will disappear when my two friends emerge from each of their tents. The calm and peacefulness of being the first one up will be replaced by a commotion of conversation and excitement, as three best friends are ready to conquer the day and catch some fish. FISH ON!

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