Farewell to the Henry's Fork
Where has the time gone? I am struggling with the fact that this is my last week at the Henry’s Fork Foundation. It has been nineteen fun, challenging, and exciting weeks since I pulled into Ashton for the first time. During those weeks I have gotten to know this river, this town, and the people that call this place home. I am honored to have been a part of it. The love for the river flows deeply in the veins of those that live on it, fish it, and simply enjoy its beauty. Never, in the United States, have I experienced a culture that revolves so wholly around a river and one that works so actively to protect and preserve the resource it has. Working for the Foundation has been an honor and a pleasure.
My time here, though wonderful, has been relatively brief. During my five months here in Ashton I have had the pleasure of working along side some wonderful, caring people who are passionate about what they do and where they live. I have also witnessed an incredible transformation of the landscape as the cold, dark days of winter dissolved into a warm, verdant spring. Through this transformation I have seen the river shift, change, and adapt to the new season. The icy, cold, dark grey water of winter morphed into a crisp clear medium as snow began to melt. This brief period of clarity was abruptly interrupted by the turbulence of runoff and the arrival of spring. And though water levels were high, the warm sun began to transform the generally bland landscape into a lush, green paradise. This also meant that the spring hatches were just around the corner, and they did not disappoint. Never, in any system, have I observed such prolific insect activity. The caddis mating swarms and, more recently, the salmonfly hatch was astonishing. The insects were not the only ones to put on a show. The charismatic mega fauna, both avian and mammalian did not disappoint either. I had the pleasure of watching moose feed in the river and Osprey hunt and chase each other in vain attempts to usurp another’s bounty. The return of the songbirds from their wintering grounds brought with it a symphony of sounds that injected the woods with a renewed life. Their arrival solidified that spring is here to stay and summer is on its way.
I am sad to be leaving right before summer’s arrival but, like the river, I too must transition into a new phase of life. Perhaps the best indication of how much I have enjoyed my time here is manifested in my own lack of willingness to accept that my time is up and it is time to move on to the next step. In a week I will pack my things and head north to Missoula for the summer. I haven’t begun to think about how I will say goodbye to the friends I have made here. Honestly, I don’t really want to yet. And that says a lot, especially given how excited I am for my next step in life. I have decided to pursue another passion of mine and will be attending photography school at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography for the summer. For many years I have considered myself a photographer, but have finally decided to take it to the next step and pursue it more formally. Included in this blog is a series of photos detailing some of the moments I enjoyed while living and working in Ashton. To follow my progress as a photographer and to see past works please check out my site, James Chandler Photography, and stay tuned for more!
Thank you to my friends, coworkers, and of course, the Henry’s Fork, for providing me with an amazing five months of experiences. This place will forever hold a spot in my heart and I look forward to visits and further exploration in the future.