It’s not the winters in the West that make the people who live here tough. It’s the springs.
Winters here are pretty mild. Sometimes they’re awfully cold, but for at least the last decade or so, they haven’t been bad at all. But we’re a little over a month into spring, and that’s when it starts to get ugly.
Even in May, snow isn’t unheard of around here. Neither are freezing temperatures. Last weekend was a case in point. But it’s not the cold, the snow, or the mud that makes us tough. It’s the wind.
I’m convinced that the legendary fly-fisherman Jack Dennis wouldn’t have been as good as he is if he had spent his formative fly-fishing days in a state with less wind than Wyoming. After practicing for so long in 50 mph winds, I don’t think anything phases him anymore.
I’m no Jack Dennis, but I escape cabin fever by heading to Curt Gowdy State Park in the spring and do my best to get my flies in the water. Once in a while I get a good wind from my back and don’t have to worry about the cast. All I have to do is flip the fly into the air and fly it like a kite until the wind recedes enough to drop it to the water.
While all this is going on, I get sandblasted by rocks small enough to be picked up by Wyoming winds. They’re usually no bigger than four or five pounds each, but when a couple hundred of these smash against you, they take a toll.
Every once in a while, a nice, windless day will come along. I’ve gone out to nearby reservoirs to get photos for upcoming magazine and newspaper stories on days like that and had people ask me to not put the date in the cutline under the photo.
“I called in sick today,” one man recently told me. “My boss reads that magazine, and he’ll know I wasn’t at home in bed.”
Don’t worry. I’d be willing to bet your boss is just up the shore from you.