Friday--We arrived at the Hiwassee in good spirits; riff raff ready to challenge the riffles and runs of the river. Our usual guide was temporarily indisposed. He was finishing up a 40 day hitch in the poky according to his wife, who added that he was a bit depressed, but that it will do him good. Our efforts to sign him out on “work release” were futile, although to our surprise the chief deputy was very interested to know exactly why we were in Hayesviile.
We parked in a tomato field Brock claimed to know the owner of, which proved to be a mistake. We ended up buying two bushels of tomatoes that a cost $150. each. They are delicious. We also ended up bartering two new pairs of chest waders for a parking permit. Wet wading a tailwater river---that was the first clue that we ignored.
The river was friendly enough. Lots of gentle slides over weed encrusted rocks and lots of fine gravel. It’s gradient and color reminded my a lot of lower Abrams. We had the river to ourselves, which was a bit of a surprise.
We made it about a mile or so down from the tomato patch and fishing was good, when for no particular reason, I decided to dash my left knee on a football size rock. It stunned me so that for about five minutes I just knelt there using my fly rod to keep me from falling over and giving up the spirit. Brock saw me go down, and stay there with my head bowed. Being a staunch Man of God, Brock claims that he thought I was having a revelation. He later said that I looked Moses, except for the fact that everyone knows that Law Giver was not 50 pounds over-weigh.
In considerable pain we made our way back upstream a couple hundred feet toward the truck. It didn’t take much upstream progress in the swift current before we decided to depart river to continue back on yet another man’s property. Somewhat dazed from the lose of blood that was lowering the alcohol content of my blood with each pulsating stream from beneath the lop of meat that had until recently had covered my knee cap, I chose an exit point on the river that had no signs of previous use as such.
About ten feet up the steep, slippery, largely impenetrable bank I discovered that it hide the most hostile green briars I have ever encountered. Using my I judged the fight with the briars to be pretty much a draw.
We walked alongside river until we spotted the truck on the other side. Between us and salvation in the form of a Toyota, was the deepest water on the entire reach of the river we had fished. Not wishing to invest what strength I had left in looking for a shallow ford, I said something to the effect, “It can’t be that deep, just jump in.” We did. We swam about 50 yards before washing upon a gravel bar where we could stand up again. I was pleased as this also washed away most of the blood on my arms and uninjured leg.
Now things got nasty. Semi-conscious in Brock’s truck, all I recall is him carping about the puddles of blood accumulating in the floor mat. Unbeknownst to me at the time, according to him, blood in such quantities is magnet for ants. I felt bad for the distress inflicted on him.
Brock got me home about midnight, where my loving wife’s first words were, “The guy who fixes your John Deere mower called and said he had to put a new carburetor and transmission in that ****ed thing. It’ll be here in the morning, so don’t make plans to slip off again.”