• A Long Walk....

    A Long Walk….

    For more than two years, Randy and I had been trying to synchronize our summer schedules so that we could fish together, again in southern Colorado. In the interim, we both made several trips to Colorado and tried out all kinds of water. One of those wilderness streams, I wrote about earlier under the title of “I’m not telling….” Access to this stream requires a hike of about 5-6 miles with an elevation change of almost 1800 ft. The problem is that you walk downhill to get in and then have to hike out uphill. Many questions and doubts come into your mind at our age as you think about committing to a trip like this. Can I still hike that far in a day, on that trail? If I do will I be so shot that it will take three days to recover? Will there even be fish? If so will they be worth the hike? Wouldn’t it be smarter to carry a heavier load and just camp overnight? Will there even be enough time and energy left to fish? What it there are others already fishing down there? Naturally, if you are still trying to chase your youth you can’t pay any attention to questions like these. Your only choice to just do it and deal with it. So we did.

    Our plan was to hike in the early morning and arrive on the stream about 10:00 hopefully as the trout started looking up for breakfast. No sense in working so hard to get to places like this is you don’t get to fish on top….

    We set the alarm with enough time to cook a large breakfast of eggs, sausage and bacon and then hit the road. An hour later we arrived at the trailhead only to discover 4 cars already there. I was ready to turn around and try later but Randy was willing to chance hiking into a creek that already had a crowd.

    Image from Randy

    Turns out all but one of the cars were folks on a long loop backpack in the wilderness. We hit the trail.

    Image from Randy

    Image from Randy

    It really is a fun hike in with aspen groves and great vistas.

    We are all going to have to get used to the damage wrought by the bark beetles.

    When we arrived at the stream we found one of the parties parked at the trailhead—two guys fishing. They were fishing lower in the canyon so we went on up another mile to the meadow areas. The stream is smaller here.

    Fish are far between up here. We didn’t catch many but the ones we caught were willing to take a dry and were good-sized fish for such a small stream. Mostly Cuttbows.

    With 4x tippet I wasn’t worried too much about breaking off any fish but I had one wrap up in willow roots and lost him as the hook straightened out.

    The stream was too small to fish side by side so we leap frogged.

    After Randy caught this nice fish I offered to go a ways upstream to a large rock that we could see.

    I knew that a very nice pool was coming up soon and I thought that Randy was going to fish it. Pools like this are rare in this section of the stream. I thought by going far upstream that I’d bypass the pool and Randy could discover it for himself. Last time, I lost the biggest fish of the trip in this hole. Unfortunately, my memory of the exact location must have been influenced by my subconscious. When I returned to the stream after working my way through the stream-side willows I found myself in the very pool I thought I had saved for Randy.

    Photo from the earlier trip 2009

    What a dilemma. I could wait for Randy or I could go ahead and fish it. Since we had planned to turn back to start the walk back after this round of leap-frog, I chose to fish it. (At least that is what I told the little voice in my head.)

    First cast, below the rock was just like the previous trip. A large cuttbow slurped the caddis and we were off to the races. I worked hard to keep the fish downstream from the hole to not spook other possible fish and in doing so I eventually lost the biggest fish of the trip again. I was disgusted with myself and probably yelled at myself as well since Randy walked up and found me at that point. I offered the pool to him since I thought there might still be a chance for more fish, maybe even a second chanced at the one I just lost. He declined after some ribbing about keeping the best looking pools to myself. I then proceeded to pull three more nice cuttbows out of this one small pool but none the size of the first one. It was great fun and well worth the walk in just to fish this one pool.

    Image from Randy

    We managed our way out, trying a couple of other places in the stream, half heartedly. The climb out was brutal again but we both made it out. When we returned to the trailhead we got a reminder to not take such excursions lightly. At the trailhead was the county Search and Rescue unit, along with the sheriff and horse outfitters in the middle of extracting an injured lady from 8 miles back in the wilderness. She had a broken leg and horseback was the way out. Fortunately she was with a part of 9 (the other vehicles) so there were folks to go for help.

    Now, I’ll be making that long walk back in my mind for a single fish that haunts my thoughts. Will it still be there? Can I still make the hike in one day? Is it worth the hike? –You bet it is. I’ll be thinking of this fish and this setting throughout the entire winter and into next summer when I just may return. What more could anyone want? What a gift.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: A Long Walk.... started by ksbioteacher View original post
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. gusstrand's Avatar
      gusstrand -
      Very cool... More front page material!
    1. jeepster's Avatar
      jeepster -
      That's a fine looking stream. That fish is waiting for ya.
    1. Satoshi's Avatar
      Satoshi -
      Great pictures of great vistas, indeed.
      Mmmmmmm..., 5-6 miles and 1800 ft down and up....
      When I read such a story like this, I always can't help wondering if I could make that hike........
    1. ksbioteacher's Avatar
      ksbioteacher -

      I don't think you would have any problem making that hike--thinking about that stream, that country and that fish helps you to put one foot in front of the other.
    1. Lone Wulff's Avatar
      Lone Wulff -
      Another great Colorado trip report. Yes, those hikes do seem to be more difficult, and more tiring, with the pasage of time. I'm wondering the same thing about some of the places I hike into. Hopefully I can keep doing it for awhile yet.
    1. ksbioteacher's Avatar
      ksbioteacher -
      The photo of me, in the last frame is a pretty good indication that my body build is on the skinny side. What that photo doesn't show is what I looked like back in April with about 35 pounds on that skinny frame. I found, to no great surprise, that walking around the mountains at my "normal" adult weight was many times easier than carrying around 35 extra pounds that I've tried to carry over the last 10 years. If the weight stays off, which it should since I'm a runner, then I should have several more years of making hikes like this or even longer. Many of the new "limitations" I was experiencing I mistakenly thought were due to age---some were but most were just due to carrying around too much weight on a frame not made for it. I'm not sure what was more enjoyable---catching the fish or making the difficult hike out with a lot of energy to spare. I'm already adding more hikes to next summer's plans. (Don't tell Randy.)
    1. ofuros's Avatar
      ofuros -
      Not looking forward to the day where I can't make the journey in.......great looking stream set in a big wide valley. Solid looking cuttbows.
    1. rbaileydav's Avatar
      rbaileydav -
      wonderful story and wonderful place i may still yet make it this year as i am heading back up that way the first week of oct for y second round this year. That stream is on the list. Great story and i hope after my second set of heart stints to still bea ble to make it in there for a few days.

    1. ksbioteacher's Avatar
      ksbioteacher -
      I know I don't have to tell you to leave word if you are heading in by yourself what with your stints and all. Have you lightened you pack? That's another thing I've really worked on over the last 10 years or so.