Patagonia’s Endless Summer

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Photo Louis Cahill

Photo Louis Cahill

It turns out there is a cure for winter.

The sky is blue. The sun is warm. Red stone cliffs rise above deep green water. Rolling hills covered in sage brush, or what looks like sage brush, roll uninterrupted as far as the eye can see. Twenty-inch brown trout rise out every green pocket to eat big bushy dry flies. It’s January and at home pipes are bursting in my basement.

_DSC0447I could swear I was in Montana. It looks so much like Montana. I didn’t expect that. Just like Montana summer, until you spot a group of llamas resting by the river or a snow covered volcano or a condor sailing like a pterodactyl overhead or your guide says something like, “give it to me please, the fly.”

So much about Patagonia is familiar and so much strange. The language, the customs and the wildlife may seem strange, but rivers are rivers and trout, trout. My fly knows what to do here and it does it time and time again.

_DSC0869We float beautiful wild rivers and never see another boat. We fish long days. The sun is up late here, less than five-hundred miles from Antarctica. The water is so clear you can count the pebbles at the bottom of the deepest runs. The air is warm and sweet and even the fish seem to be carried away in the innocence of summer. I drink wine and eat dolce de leche as the crawlspace at home fills with water.

_DSC1478At night we gather around a fire and watch a goat brown on a spit. We drink too much and sleep under the southern cross. I hear Crosby Stills and Nash singing “Southern Cross” in my head all week. The guides tell stories in Spanish long after I have drifted off. They are full of life and love of this land and these waters. It’s easy to imagine that it’s always summer here. That the pipes never freeze.

Patagonia with its red stag and giant birds, its wine and its chocolate, its classical guitars and tango dancers. This beautiful wild Montana of the south with its volcanos and its wind and its crazy, drunken Spanish stories and its wild, wild rivers and its hungry trout. The whole place feels like a fairy tale. Like something lost in time. Like a drunken story told in Spanish by a roaring fire.

_DSC7298The whole week I feel like a high school kid who’s snuck into a college party. Like I’ll wake up somewhere else, somewhere cold and wet with awful work to do. I try to drink it in. I try to tell myself it’s real and it can last. I land one last big brown trout and we row off the river. I ride through the desert in a pickup truck. I take pills and I sleep on the plane. I wake up somewhere cold and wet, with awful work to do.

But I can’t stop thinking about Patagonia. I keep thinking about that politician from South Carolina who told everyone he was going to hike the Appalachian trail, disappeared to Argentina and fell in love with some beautiful dark-haired woman, burned his whole career and family to the ground. I think about that poor miserable bastard while I lay in the dirt of my crawl space in the cold and the wet and I want to be him so bad I could cry.

In the end, the trip to Patagonia cost about the same as the plumbing. I think I’ll do it again next year. Not the plumbing.


Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “Patagonia’s Endless Summer

  1. If you like fly fishing, read this. If not, read it anyway because it is beautifully done. Written by the brother-in-law of my orthopedic surgeon. How many degrees of connection or disconnection might that be? Well, I went to the surgeon in the first place because I broke my shoulder falling from a bluff over the Norfork River during a fly fishing trip last June. Two good parts are, I didn’t die and it was my left shoulder. I am still somewhat crippled up, but I cast right-handed. Life is funny. Not always Ha Ha funny, but funny enough. Heading back to the Norfork soon.

  2. Thanks Louis!

    Ok – I’m blaming it on you, my wife is going to be pissed that I’m adding another destination to the bucket list. She struggled with 3 weeks in the Gallatin Valley last year. Kept saying something about raising kids….blah, blah, blah. Summer all year seems to be the ticket.

  3. Been on my bucket list for years……ain’t getting any younger, so I have to pull the trigger.I’ve researched it long enough. Approx how much in dollars. Fly out of NY JFK.( FYI)

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