As I started to get quite busy with pack trips I decided I need to hire a wrangler. Joe was a local cowboy who didn’t know the first thing about fiyfishing or any kind of fishing for that matter, but he knew horses and was a true gentleman cowboy. The clients liked him for his easy going manner and the lady’s loved him. Especially with his yes maam and no maan and he was always reciting cowboy poetry to them.
One day Joe and I were heading up to this lake to clear the trail and set up a camp. Joe was riding a young horse that had a phobia about crossing creeks and there were several crossings on this trail. When we came to the first one I went across first in hopes that his horse would follow–no such luck. He tried just about everything to get him to cross with no avail. Finally he said I know how to get him through it. He trotted back down the trail a hundred feet or so and turned around, gave a war whoop came at a full gallup. He had a big grin on his face as he knew this was going to work. When they got to the creek the horse put the brakes on all four and stopped but Joe didn’t. He landed right in the middle of it and I will never forget the look on his face as he picked himself up dripping wet and slowly said, “pard it’s your turn to try something”. I was riding old Fancy which was one of the best horses I have ever owned. She had many a river and creek crossings behind her. I went back over and grabbed the lead rope on that stubborn young cuss, put a dally around the horn and drug him across. He still wouldn’t give in so we went back across again and again and again. Finally he figured it was easier to cross on his own rather than being drug. He turned out to be one of the best horses in the string.
One day Joe was sitting on a boulder and watching this guy flyfishing when the guy hooked a big cutthroat. His wife was standing nearby with the camera ready to photo this monster. Joe was always eager to help and when the guy got the fish close to the bank Joe reached out and grabbed the leader and yanked hard on it to land this fish. Well you know what happened then. His wife was looking through the camera and kept asking where the fish was. Joe must have apologized for at least an hour and the guy was petty cool about it and just said that in the future he would land his own fish.
On another occasion we were just getting saddled up at the trailhead when this one lady who was slightly overweight was having trouble getting on. Joe was there trying to help her by grabbing her waist and lifting her up. That didn’t work so finally he just reached his hand under her butt and pushed her up on the saddle. Once comfortable on board she looked down at Joe and smiled and said, “thank you young man”.
Joe was not overly fond of water and anything that was over knee deep he would make a comment such as, “you know pard a fella could drown in that”. We packed a small raft up to the lake and one day Joe was in it paddling around in shallow water near the shore. A gust of wind came up and blew him out a little ways and when he looked down he could no longer see the bottom. That’s when total panic set in and he was rowing in circles so fast he looked like a top. The wind finally blew him to the far shore and I walked over said I’ll row it back. I asked if he wanted to ride along and he said no thanks pard, I think I’d rather walk.