Imagine a view from a ridge top high in the mountains. It looks like someplace up the Dungeness, where there’s nothing but bare rock without even a wild onion sticking out of the ground.
The ridge is steep on both sides and narrow in the middle, so you have to balance pretty good if you are going to walk up it. And you had better walk up it because there are fires on three sides of you, and you have to make it to the top of the ridge to escape.
Except you can’t breathe, and the sweat is pouring out of you, and there is no water.
But you cannot stop. You have to make it to the top of the ridge, where it looks like the sun is going down. You hope it is heaven, because hell is down below.
That’s what it’s like to have the boomer remover, COVID-19.
You get the weirdest dreams. Even when you are awake.
This disease can affect every organ in your body, from your aching head to your burning toes and all of the guts in between.
The remover is weird because you can have it and not know it. Without testing, you can be an asymptomatic contagious mess, and it is difficult to get tested.
I only knew I had the remover after they tested me for antibodies. By that time, I had survived.
This is my story.
One of the toughest things about the remover is figuring out if you’ve got it. Loss of taste and smell is a prime symptom. Then you can start feeling about as bad as a person can feel, like you’re going to die.
I was OK with that. I’ve had a good life. Being a fishing guide is a dream career, except for the clients. They can be sick individuals. I mean that in the nicest possible way, but I don’t like people much. They are the most dangerous critter on Earth. Fishermen are even worse than that.
Social distancing? No, guides have client-hazing rituals where the anglers are jammed in a truck and driven around in circles in the dark, causing them to lose all sense of direction. Then they’re lowered off a bluff and loaded into a boat while being told they are probably too late to catch anything.
We share fishing gear, beverages and food. My guys know they will not catch a thing if they don’t bring some Forks Outfitters apple fritters. And if that apple fritter should drop on the floor of the boat, the five-second rule doesn’t apply. It’s a full 60 seconds.
That’s how I got the boomer remover, taking guys fishing. I’m writing this now so my fellow guides will take a hint and get a clue. If I can get it, so can you.
If you get it, you probably won’t be fishing for a while. Take heart, you can contribute to the herd immunity. That’s where some people are supposed to die off before they collect Social Security.
You want to try to cheat the system by staying alive. How you do that has become a political debate.
I wear a mask in public. It’s for your protection, not mine. Maybe the mask won’t stop the tiny virus, but, medically speaking, it will reduce the water droplets the virus rides on as it comes out of your mouth.
I’m no medical expert. I am no constitutional expert, but I’m pretty sure wearing masks isn’t in there, neither is the barbless hook rule.
I’ve never won constitutional arguments with fish cops anyway.
Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.
He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected].