Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rocky Mountain Rhapsody

When I saw the pictures of Tangler’s trophy cutthroat trout on this blog, my juices began to flow like a Rocky Mountain river.

“I simply have to make a fly fishing trip out there,” I concluded, as I began to purchase a flight with child-like abandon.

A month later I found myself hiking up a gray and foreboding mountain, so colossal in stature, it makes my hometown Virginia Blue Ridge look like a rolling hill. It took about five minutes of light upward hiking before I realized that I was completely out of shape. My vision was a bit blurred from the exhaustion, but I could make out the two figures ambling in the distance.

“Hey Tangler” I yelled, “I need to get my ass on a treadmill more often, my lungs feel like they are about to explode!”

He looked back and flashed me a knowing grin, but I certainly didn’t share his amusement.

We arrived at the first mountain-top lake around mid-day. Coinciding our arrival to the lake, the clouds darkened abruptly and a light snow began to sting our ruddy faces.

“What happened? It was sunny five minutes ago,” I thought, as we passed the lake by and kept climbing higher.

We arrived at the upper lake and continued to a nearby boulder to have lunch. I hungrily pawed my backpack for my lunch sack, but was horrified to discover that I forgot my sandwich. I didn’t even have to tell Tangler what I forgot, he could see it my somber eyes when I looked at him.

“It’s okay fatty, you can have some of mine,” he assured, as he held out his mangled Turkey Sub.

After lunch we spent time walking along the lake, looking for all the trout we were to slay. I wasn’t sure what shapes we were supposed to be looking for in the water, but Tangler peered in with a hawk-like veracity, as focused in as a camera lens. He saw nothing, and it took about a half-hour of lake walking for him to admit it.

“They just aren’t out today,” he said, with an accompanied sigh.

“But where do they go,” I asked, “they exist in this pond don’t they?”

This question, with its penetrating logic, seemed to catch him off guard: “Yeah, I guess they do still exist somewhere in the pond…”

That was the end of our conversation.

("Where are the fish???")

We caught no fish, but we had one hell of a hike. Even five minutes of ambling through the Rocky Mountains is worth the trip out there.

On the way down, I noticed my head beginning to ache. I told Tangler about my ailments (headache, blurry vision, lack of balance, shortness of breath, numbness of the arms, etc), and he shot me that enigmatic smile again. What was he up to?

His brother finally confessed, “I think you have High Altitude Sickness (HAS), we probably should have warned you.”

Thanks asshole, I thought, but honestly I couldn’t be too upset; it’s a small price to pay for the hike of a lifetime. I’ll just have to remember to bring Advil with me when I go back next year to get revenge on those phantom mountain-top trout...

Guest Blogger

Some more photos from the day:

The Ptarmigans:

How many do you count?

Sun set. You shoulda seen it in real life...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Recent Activity

My friend Armin came and visited Colorado last weekend as I had mentioned in a previous entry. The plan was to Hit North Park, but that kind of fell through. My brother and Armin got all wide eyed when I mentioned that the drive would be over 3 hours each way. My plans were swiftly vetoed and replaced with a local stroll out to the Gross Reservoir inlet (let the record show that I warned them we would catch nothing there). The truth is that there is no such thing as a bad fishing trip, and I'm just glad I got to spend time with an old buddy.

While we didn't go after the browns, we did make a journey up to a high lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness despite the cold front setting in on Saturday. That's all that I am saying about that trip because Armin is guest authoring a blog post about it.

Jumping topics...

My analytic report shows that Colorado Fly Fisherman Anon. has been getting hits from Baghdad. Since I'm fairly confident that Iraqis aren't fly fishing in their spare time, I presume that the views are coming from an American troop.

Whoever you are, it really gives me a sense of purpose with this blog to know that I am connecting with you over there. Thanks for fighting for this beautiful country, and thanks for reading. Hopefully some of my writings allowed you to fly fish and hike in the rocky mountains this season vicariously. Come home safe.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

2008 shots of wildlife

Here are some choice wildlife photos from throughout 2008 that, for whatever reason, didn't make the blog. Please make sure to view them in full screen for best experience.

Categorized by photographer:


Lady Bugs
Eleven Mile wild donkey


Tough Guy
Spinney Pelican

Eleven Mile wild, aggressive donkey w/ onlooker


Chipmunk profile
Mule Deer on Flagstaff looking down on Boulder

Bull Elk in RMNP

Female Bluebird

Eleven Mile Bluebirds in flight

Spinney bows 20''+

My frying pan of a personal best 'Bow

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

James Peak Wilderness Area

Met up with Jim and lil' Jim and headed out to JPWA. We drove through clear creek canyon, through Central City and up into the mountains. The off-road driving is slow and jarring. The path is unmaintained which in the Rockies means, yes, lots of rocks. I found myself wishing I was wearing one of those double strap harness seatbelts.

Here is a clip of us traversing the mountains and approaching an ancient juniper forest. It's hard to make out in the video, but the junipers are all growing totally sideways due to the voracious winds that rip into them during the winter.

Bumping and bouncing along, the first glimpse of one of our lakes peeks around a mountain side - Echo Lake.

...and then James Peak Lake and little James below it complete the triad of fishing ahead of us. This is the first time I've ever looked down onto the lakes I'm about to fish. Normally it's a trek up.

We briskly scamper down the path to get out of the 40+ mile per hour winds on the knoll, and look back up to where we have to return. Always in the mind of a hiker - what goes down must come up. Jim's jeep rests invitingly at the top of the foot path.

The scenery included the typical critters along with some literal twisted metal in the rocks.

See, not all people are qualified to drive in the mountains. In fact, not all people are qualified to drive on paved roads. The difference is that those who can't drive on roads run into cars, signs, curbs, etc., while those who can't drive on mountains run into... err, fall off of, mountains.

We pass little James lake on the way. This lake is pretty shallow and probably winter kills so we didn't spend any time on it.

The jaunt ends at an old miner's cabin that overlooks James Peak Lake.

The lake produced small cutties and was just gorgeous. The clouds were soaring across the sky and casting flowing shadows across the mountain sides.

After spending some time fishing, relaxing, and taking photos we moved on to Echo Lake. We had heard that there are lakers in Echo. Lakers (aka mackinaw, lake trout) live very deep. Echo lake is an absolute pit of a lake that just drops straight down into an abyss.

We saw nary a fish. I fished my sinking tip as deep as I could for some time, which gets very tiresome and boring. I hate to say it, but barring a very unique day, this lake is more fit for spin casting a big chunk of metal down into the depths.

We packed out around 3 and I got back to Golden just in time to meet my brother to head to the STS9 concert at Red Rocks.

I could barely stand up by the end of the concert. What a sweet day. Gotta love Colorado.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Shout Out

Since the NFL has started I've sacrificed my Sundays for football, so I only have Saturdays to fish now. I'm a fanatical Washington Redskins fan. I know many of my readers are friends and family visiting this blog from back in DC. For those of you interested you should check out The Om Field blog.

This guy is one of the few skins fans who can analyze and assess the team objectively. I find myself agreeing with everything he says. Check him out, he's a quality source and a pleasure to read.

Now back to FISHING. I know that was hard for all you non-football persons to read.

The bad news is that I haven't been fishing last weekend and I won't be fishing this weekend (my family is visiting). This will be the longest I've gone without wetting a line since winter.

The good news is that I have a couple fishing trips I've gone on that I haven't put up a blog about yet and they will surface next week (with some video).

The even better news is that my close friend Armin is flying into town next weekend for four days and we are gonna fly fish for two of those days.