Friday, May 15, 2015

Big World in a Small Pool

The world expands when I drift into the water. The pool looks small from the surface, but becomes huge underwater. There is so much complexity and depth here. The bottom is diverse and intricate. A gravel bar ridge mounds lengthwise to the current and small hog suckers dabble in it. It drops off on both sides, one side to deeper water with stacked plates of schist. The other side drops to a small eddy that collects sediment on top of a flat smooth sheet of bedrock. Just upstream the gravel bar drops into a deep cleft in the bedrock that catches woody debris because it lies in the shadow of a large schist boulder that keeps all of the water in a 10 foot long chute, and lets the wood collect on the slower back water. The velocity in the chute is intense. It pulls at my mask and makes my whole body shake in the turbulence. I can only push halfway up to the short falls that forms the head of this pool, just far enough to barely make out a brook trout working hard to hold in the current at the base of the falls, before I need to float backwards, before my mask actually does get pulled from my face. There is a diversity and abundance of fish here to match the diversity and abundance of habitat. Large suckers lay motionless on the bottom of the slower deeper pools, but rocket off with amazing agility when spooked. Large chubs are more leery and always keep me in sight. They tend to hang with the brook trout, bookies in the drift and chubs on the bottom. Rosey sided and black nosed dace stay close to the bottom. I take a few laps around. Pull upstream along the crannied wall of bedrock over a deeper trough, turn and let the current push me the short distance back downstream over the gravel bar and do it again until the cold sets in and I have to get out. I pull my head from the water, with the immensity of this section of creek still fresh in my mind. But from the surface it’s just a 30 x 10 stretch of still water. Such a big world for such a small pool.

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