Monday, July 14, 2014

Sleeping with the Fishes

On a beautiful camping day, I found myself fishing alone on, what we call, Cow Reservoir.  All my family had wandered off on hikes but, me being the avid fisherman of the family, I stuck with drowning poor worms.

Cow Reservoir is really Yellowstone Power Diversion Reservoir up Hells Canyon in Duchesne, County.  Yeah, I like the name Cow Reservoir better too.  I was fishing just before the dam right by the gate wheel that fed an eight-foot diameter pipeline leading to a hydro power plant.  Pockets of calm water along the bank proved right nice fishing before the water spilled over the dam and down the river.  I had my full attention on fishing.  I wanted to catch my limit before my family returned, and I couldn’t wait to see the surprise on their faces.  I could just taste the fish fry we would be enjoying that night. And then my fishing line tangled beneath the water. I pulled my pole back and reeled in, but the line wouldn’t release.  I didn’t have time to cut the line and set up my rod all over.

I stared at the small, square, concrete water gate that was surrounded by a metal railing and jetted out over the water.  If I could climb out on it, I might be able to free my line.  I climbed on the outside of the rail, held onto it with one hand, and leaned out over the water, while holding onto my pole with the other hand and trying to whip the line free.  I grabbed the rail and whipped, grabbed the rail and whipped, grabbed…

My hand came up with air.

That moment really did freeze.  My eyes bulged, my muscles tightened, and a gasp left my throat.  I dropped my pole and dog paddled air to reach the railing.  Then came the fall into the cold, rushing water just before the dam. The weight of the moving water felt incredibly strong as I fought my way back up to the surface.  I gasped for air.  Something pulled me under again.  I fought and kicked as the water drug me toward the bank instead of over the dam.

What is happening?

With the next kick, I felt it.  Metal.  I kicked again and again, banging my feet against the metal grate covering the upper portion of the pipeline.  I was going to be sucked into that pipe and carried all the way to the hydro power plant. My body would never be recovered, and my family would never know what happened to me.

I fought desperately to untrap my legs and surface for air.

This couldn’t be happening.  Am I really meant to die right here and now?

I couldn’t fathom the idea.  I had so many things to do, see, and experience.  My head bobbed up like the bubble on my fishing line.  I screamed my sister’s name and swallowed a mouthful of fishy water.

Alone.  No one is going to save me.  It’s just me.  Alone, frightened, and about to die.
The flow pulled me under the grate once again, trapping my feet.  I refused to be sucked down that pipe, but the fight against the powerful water continued to weaken me.

Is this all you had planned for me, God? Is this the end?

“Fight,” a man’s voice said.

I struggled again to free my bruised, tired feet and legs.

This time when I surfaced, I heard, “Lean back.”

I tipped my head back and my legs came to the surface.  I backstroked the short distance to the bank and pulled myself out of the water, dazed, confused…and surprised.

Who had called out to me?  I looked around for my family.  Instead, I saw the rushing water, green pines, majestic mountain, and blue sky. 

I’d never really been alone, and I realized I never would be.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
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Copyright: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. Saw your post on our ANWA FB page: Oh wow, great story. But seriously scary experience! I am glad you are okay!

  2. So scary! I don't swim.
    But I have heard that voice before :)
    So glad you fought. . .and listened to the voice!!


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