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.
“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.
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...
Some more photos from the day:
How many do you count?