Copper River Record July 2015
By Robin Mayo
“The river itself portrays humanity precisely, with its tortuous windings, its accumulation of driftwood, its unsuspected depths, and its crystalline shallows, singing in the summer sun. Barriers may be built across its path, but they bring only power, as the conquering of an obstacle is always sure to do." Myrtle Reed
Project Healing Waters is a national organization which helps military veterans dealing with physical and psychological injuries heal themselves and connect with nature through the art of fly fishing. On the last weekend in June, BLM hosted a group of soldiers at the Tangle Lakes Campground to fish the surrounding lakes and rivers. This was the fifth year for this event, hosted by the Glennallen Field Office of BLM. Trip Leaders from Project Healing Waters Alaska, boat drivers from several BLM offices, WISE staff, and other volunteers worked together to make the trip happen.
On the first evening, we all gathered for a picnic supper to get acquainted, and the stories began to fly. It was clear that soldiers and volunteers combined were a lively group. As well as love of fishing in the wilderness, the participants shared adventure stories from around the world, military connections, and lively senses of humor. After dinner, they headed out to practice fishing skills, and try their luck in the Tangle River near the highway.
On Friday, groups headed out in boats throughout the Tangle Lakes system. Heavy rain and a lively thunderstorm dampened spirits briefly in the morning. We wished the rain would visit some of the many sites in Alaska where it is really needed to decrease fire danger. But everyone bounced back in the afternoon, and many new memories and fish stories were in order.
Project Healing Waters events are catch and release only, to ensure there are lots of fish for everyone. Surely the most memorable catch of the weekend was a big lake trout hooked by Mike Lindsey. When netted, they discovered it was in the process of swallowing a whitefish. Good thing there is a picture to back up that fish story!
Although the primary purpose of the weekend was “fishing and wilderness” therapy for the veterans, it is also a great chance to catch up on stories with old and new friends, and remember the joy in simple things like good food with good people, sleeping in a dry tent and listening to the rain, and spending quiet time in a beautiful location.
Mike Lindsey shows off a lake trout caught in the act of swallowing a whitefish, but apparently still hungry enough to take a fly. Greg Quinton Photo
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.