There was earlier speculation that the ongoing drought might affect this year’s autumn foliage, that it would be dull and drab due to the lack of groundwater. It appears the reverse is true. This week in the Rangeley region the annual deciduous fashion show has been spectacular. I cannot recall ever seeing a more brilliant display, and other veteran leaf-peepers were saying the same thing. As I drove along Route 16 towards Oquossoc and Rangeley, around every bend was another October calendar page with a title like “Autumn Splendor” or “Nature’s Magic.” I had to control the urge to stop the car every hundred yards to take a picture.
If you are an amateur photographer, such as I am, you have probably experienced the same frustration as I have when photographing fall foliage: it’s tough to capture. Doubly difficult when your camera is a smart-phone, though I have to say that the optics of today’s phones are so good that I usually leave my Nikon DSLR at home. But no matter what you’re shooting with, the results almost never match the vision that lay before your eyes, the grand sweep of a forest ablaze in autumnal glory. Your own eyes, and your brain, do something that the camera has a hard time with. That’s why I tend to focus on individual trees and let them stand as exemplars of the bigger picture.
That’s what I was doing as I was on my way to Redacted Pond to capsize my boat.
Don’t get me wrong. It was not my intention to capsize. But the actual fishing part of the adventure was so unworthy of mention that the capsizing turned out to be the highlight of the day. Trout were rising. There was no one else on the pond. Perfect! I anchored the boat, a 12-foot aluminum skiff, and began to cast. No takers. The trout kept rising, with aggressive, slashing strikes at whatever was emerging. I kept changing flies, casting to rises, being ignored.
Midges, nymphs, dry flies. The trout yawned. For some reason I stood up. The boat tipped. I tipped. The gunwale went under, water rushed in. I fell out. The boat filled up and turned turtle. The water was chilly, but not numbingly cold. I reached down with my booted feet and touched bottom. Up to my armpits, but ambulatory. I still grasped my flyrod. Stuff was floating everywhere — fly boxes, flotation cushion, cooler, spare spool (in a floating reel case, luckily). I lurched 50 yards to the nearest shore, deposited the rod and whatever else I had managed to rescue, then – what else could I do? — waded back out to the boat. I managed to eventually right the boat and bail it out with an L.L. Bean tote bag. I rowed out to retrieve my cooler and other flotsam, than rowed back to the launch and dragged the boat up on shore. I emptied my boots and stripped naked. Everything was soaked. The only article of dry clothing in the car was a pullover sweatshirt, which came down only to my waist.
Then I remembered that I did not have enough gas to get back to camp. I would have to stop somewhere and pump gas.