Floating Together (Part 3 of Michelle’s series)

by Michelle Karl

This is the third post for Michelle’s blog series. Her first SaraBella blog post, “Cancer, Set Me Free” shared her insight about her 16 month battle with (against) stage 2 breast cancer. Then she wrote, “Fuel For Growth” which was part 2 of this series. Michelle’s family is on a 3-week road/boat trip through Wyoming, Idaho, Montana & British Columbia — to fish, camp, explore, reflect, and rejoice. She will continue to share reflections, adventures, challenges, and growth. We hope you enjoy her 3rd post, about 1 week into her trip. We’re honored that Michelle is sharing her story with us, so we can share it with you!

I have been keeping my own personal journal as the days have passed. To be honest, I was not sure that I could share the train wreck we were the first few days. Trying to have four grown people on one fly fishing boat with only one person that knows anything at all about fly fishing is a recipe for disaster.

We floated the Henry’s fork… twice. The first time was so stressful we decided to do it again just to prove that we could. On the second day we did it, it took a fraction of the time to find the put in and to get all rigged up. After that, we had the same stresses we did on the first day. The high point for me was that I caught my first fish. My youngest caught three. However, as a family we struggled to come together. The amount of fish you catch can bring momentary joy but does not necessarily create a joyful, appreciative, presence on a river.

Day after day, I would come down to the river to journal. I wanted to figure out how we could logistically do things differently and have a better experience. I am a mom. I am always trying to figure these things out.

To add to that, I realized that in the last year and a half we have all been on our own journeys. We have lived in the same house but our lives have gone in different directions. We were all functioning on our own agendas when we got into the boat. I found that at the end of day three I was praying that we could all just come together.

We were not even sure if we were going to continue on with my husband’s boat. The thought was somewhat heartbreaking. To think that after building his own boat and having to delay the trip a year, the process would be too stressful to continue. We decided to take a break for a day and think it over.

Day 5
We decided not to give up. After a day of relaxation we decided, by unanimous vote, that we would try again. This time on a 12-mile section of the Blackfoot River. We started early and put in at 8. We had been told that the section we were doing would take about six hours. That was daunting for our family, considering that a four hour float on Henry’s fork turned into 6 hours.

First, I have to say this river section was AMAZING. At the put in, the water was so clear that you could see the bottom perfectly. Each rock had its own color, when you put them all together, and looked at them in the sunlight, it resembled the scales on a rainbow trout.

Today, I was more confident rowing, my husband did a short casting tutorial prior to shoving off and we all vowed to untangle our own fly’s. It worked. We managed not to have any major arguments, crying episodes, or cursing. Plus we actually floated the whole 12 miles in 6 ½ hours, not bad… however, not a single fish was caught.

Today’s success was in coming together. In enjoying the river and each others successes even if there were no fish at the end of the day. I also have to mention that my agenda of reflection, observation and gaining perspective on the past sixteen months has to take a back seat to our family just being together.

My daughter just informed me that my hair looks gross. I informed her that she was not invited to comment. Our next stop is Whitefish, Montana. This is where resort living and mountain biking will be put on the schedule. Maybe, then I can do something with my hair.

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