Porter has been eager to learn Tenkara fishing, to supplement his diet with fish on his solo outdoor adventures. Tenkara is a simple form of Japanese fly-fishing that uses no reel, just an extendable carbon fiber rod, line, tippet, and fly. Imagine the lure of a whole new set of gear that takes weeks to make by hand to be even more ultralight! For his first multi-day fishing hike, he headed into the Eagles Nest Wilderness in the Gore Range of Colorado, with its high alpine lakes.

Unfortunately, for the first time in our many years of staying in at least minimal touch by satellite tracker on the Continental Divide Trail, Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail, and others, I didn’t receive a single message with which to follow his progress and safety. I fretted that the photo below would prove to be our last together.

I was on a solo meditation retreat in a mountain town below, as I usually am during Porter’s rigorous adventures. I watched my mind move from concern to worry, worry to fear. Porter was unhappy about not being able to hear from me by return satellite tracker message. He camped at Gore Lake, and although he caught his first fish by Tenkara, didn’t have the heart to eat it. He released it, in an act of compassion.

Compassion for my worried mind gave way to trust. I sent Porter “heart mail” that I was fine and that I knew deep down he was too. He sent me heart mail back. We released one another from the circuitous thinking of fear. Whatever happens, there’s only and ever love.

Porter made it over Red Buffalo Pass and down, having hiked over the mountains of the Gore Range from Vail to Silverthorne without mishap. Amber and I met him at the trailhead.

“Guys! Mercury is retrograde!” Amber said. “Of course the satellite tracker went kaput!”



  1. Thank you, Gail, for this lovely reminder that whatever happens, all shall be well. Love to you both!

    • Carla, it means so much to receive your lovely comment. I’m ready to venture more deeply into the underlying truths of our adventures, and your comment is an encouragement. We think of you and James so often with much love!

  2. How I love your love, and the heart-mails!! I’m glad Porter was more than ok. You model compassion and couple-hood like no one I know. Thank you both. <3

    • Thank you, dear Sue, and you too model compassion and the blessings of true relationship. I love that we stay in touch, and feel grateful for your friendship. Love.

  3. It can be so challenging to release worry over a loved one. Without realizing it, we sometimes think worrying over a dear one’s safety keeps them safer, but it doesn’t. To send “heart mail” allows for the possibility that whatever comes to pass the love will live on. You and Porter have a close spiritual connection that clearly does not require electronics! Rack up another great adventure and put fish on the menu! xoxoxoxoxo

    • Rosita, you were in my heart and thoughts as I meditated during this interior soul-searching. I drew comfort from the courage with which you meet your own challenges, with such fierce grace.

  4. So hard to truly know what it is we know. Your writing about your life lesson is a gift to us all.

    With love to you both and good wishes for many more safe adventures.

    • Ellen, thank you! Your wonderful book of your photographs and prose poems, THE MOMENT WHISPERS: Nature in the Here and Now, lives on the shelf on my desk, as a continuing inspiration. You share such wisdom with our world!

  5. Wow, technology is great, when it works! Hope it’s an easy cheap fix! Glad everyone is safe! Thanks for posting this!

  6. Gail,
    I love this account of fish compassion and enduring love. Just the best!
    Love and hugs, Mary Jane

    • Mary Jane, And you are the Best! I think of you so often and our precious days at Betty’s Church, where so many of these lessons unfolded.

  7. It’s a wonderful, gut-wrenching journey from worry, to fear to compassion. That love guides us through it all is…awe-full. love and peace to you, my friends~ patti

    • Patti, thank you, and we continue to follow the beautiful unfolding of your ministry. You’re a radiant example of love and compassion.

    • Jerrie, Your garden is glorious for your weeding! As we all know, there are so many profound adventures to be had in a garden. Much love to you, Jon, and Cooper.

  8. I am always so glad to read your comments. They give me heart and make me want to emulate your courage and your ability to to follow new paths. Thanks to you and Porter for showing me (and so many others) how many ways there are.

  9. This is the second time I have heard about Tenkara rods this week. A girlfriend has one for back country fishing. I understand Porter’s hesitancy in eating the fish. I cried when I first caught a fish. I would never be able to prepare one, unless it came wrapped in butcher paper. Love never ends. A lesson to realize and focus upon. So glad it was a beautiful adventure for both of you. ps-Amber is darling as ever.

  10. I love this! What a lesson in compassion, trust and love. But Amber isn’t kidding: Mercury has been more retrograde than ever…. In fact, I wonder if this message will ever reach you!

    • LOL, Rivvy, yes, your message reached me, Mercury and all the other retrograde planets notwithstanding! So happy you connected with the compassion, trust, and love–you’re a paragon of all those.

  11. Dear Gail and Porter,
    As I read your story about not making contact, I went back to how I worry when Jeff is on his bike in far-away countries and I am not there to…I understand how the fear works all too well. Thank you both for the wonderful reminder of love.

    • Yes, Kathleen, I’ve often wondered how you manage the emotions that come up when Jeff is on his own big adventures. We’re sisters in that, as in so many ways!

  12. Gail, there are some great lessons in this. I send heart mail a lot. Sometimes it is the best way to get the message to someone without banging them in the head with it. It enters their being in a sweet and gentle way. And the lack of ability to connect in the Earth-bound ways was the perfect time to apply heart mail. I love this post!

    • Melanie, I thought of you as I was writing this post, feeling in my own heart that you’d totally get this. Much love to you!

  13. Beautiful writing, Gail. I was moved by your heart mail. And by how you both are always enlivened by new challenges. Kudos to Porter for catching a fish…and then releasing it! When the whole purpose was to expand your food supply.

    • Thank you, Sara, that means so much to us coming from you! We hope you’re enjoying the remainder of this glorious summer!

    • Thanks so much, Donna! So glad you can relate to the heart mail. Hope your summer continues to be wonderful!

  14. I used to hate it when I would lose communications on wilderness trips in the old days. If you lost your stamps, there is no where to buy more until you get back to the road.

    • Oh Randy, thank you for your much needed perspective! I admit I’m totally spoiled by being able to have some sense of where Porter was when last heard from via satellite tracker, so I can call the local sheriff if that’s all he wrote! LOL, and I’m taking your wonderful comment to heart!

  15. I love the heart mail! Thanks for the gentle reminder to release ourselves from the looping of fearful thoughts!

  16. Dear Gail,

    Always enjoy following yours and Porters adventure. Your mishap had the bonus of reminding me to trust and love!

  17. So good to hear all was well in the end for your recent journey. I love Gore pass and the Flattops on the other side too! Did you head down to Topanas, over to Phippsburg, and Oak Creek? Adventures are often a challenge, but somehow you both land on your feet, and surface with a smile. How grateful you were to be able to send “heart mail” to each other. What a deep appreciation we have for our marvelous, multI fascited, macho men!! I love the way you and Porter are able to adapt to the circumstances and carry on with trust and belief over riding fear in the end. Your deep belief in love is heart warming. We just returned from an adventure down to Pagosa Springs, Durango (to visit my daughter Shawna and her beau Chase), and a marvelous trip over Red Mtn. pass, with a visit to Silverton, and a reprieve at Tremble Hot Springs near Purgatory. Fantastic views followed by a fabulous soak, sauna and swim. Great fun. And we Love your posts!!

    • Andrea, your own adventure sounds heavenly! And you and Del are an inspiration with your love for each other!

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