National Geographic : 2011 Nov
our water jugs from springs we passed while the anglers among us hooked hungry trout on what seemed like every other cast. It was a living page from America's past, when every river was clean, potable, and full of life. A er lunch on a gravel bar I sat in the shade and watched Sam struggle with the y rod as most beginners do, ailing it like a whip instead of achieving that "art...performed on a four- count rhythm between ten and two o'clock," as Norman Maclean wrote in A River Runs rough It. But gradually he checked himself and stopped the rod close to ten. e line uncurled on the water like a prayer, dropping the Craighead spi- der y into an alluring eddy. He was too pleased with himself to notice the shimmering torpedo emerge from the depths. Only when he tried to back-cast did he nd himself hooked into a living, breathing dynamo. is was no video game, no virtual walleye of Wii. is was bare- foot boy against bantamweight pisces, and the age-old ght was on. As the two splashed in the cool, green water, whoops rose from the bank. e bronze bomber skittered onto shore, the same westslope cutthroat with its jaunty red sash that so delighted Lewis and Clark. Sam was beaming, caught deep in Craighead's web. I once asked Craighead why wild rivers were such a crucial issue for him, thinking he would wax philosophical about the need for wild things in an increasingly man-made world. He shrugged. "I just loved rivers," he said. It was enough. Because he and others loved moving, living, untarnished waters, we now have some le to cherish. To help us think more like a river, less like a dam. j Moonlight bathes a birchbark canoe on Maine's Allagash Wilderness Waterway, a tranquil spot for paddlers.