Wednesday, October 3, 2018

at odds with the fall

what is the fall ?
almost at odds with the summer, which is which 
Each new autumn I get antsy because of insufficient trips up to the high country. Have to get there before the snow flies..

It gets worse each year. There is the constant awareness that at best I have another ten years of being physically capable of hiking the miles of rocky trails up to 11 000 feet and above. Baled on going to church this Sunday and took off to worship in another way, to climb the mountains and get their good tidings, as John Muir wrote.

A bit over five miles in and 2000 feet up, from the trailhead shuttle bus.

Strong wind blowing cold up around the treeline. Casting into the wind was nearly impossible with a light 4wt line, a brief lull allowed reaching the edge of rocky shallows. The idea of wading didn't survive first contact with the bitter chill of the water.

Walked around to get out of the wind but it followed me, shifting as the day warmed. At the inlet fish were rising past the dropoff, some 20 yards out, which is the limit of my abilities with a mild-mannered 4wt glass rod in a gusty swirling wind. About one cast in five made it, then the wind would blow line into a curve and drag the fly under after a few minutes. The fish wouldn't take a sunken fly, or a moving fly. This provided sufficient amusement until lunchtime, broken by the occasional success.

This fish wasn't ready for its closeup.

Wandered off up the stream to look for the next lake up. On the way there was a little pool which I estimated to be large enough to hold a fish, and there he was, most gratifying.

The game path along the stream petered out in a thicket of willow shrub and mud pockmarked by moose hoofprints. Thrashed through this to emerge bleeding only lightly, to the saddle with a glimpse of the next lake.

This lake was low, walked to edge and sank knee deep into mud between one step and another. Fell, got another bang on the shin, luckily it was a new shin this time and didn't reopen any of the old scars.

The lake isn't natural, or is natural but got a little help to deepen it. The notched dam wall at the end of the bleak forbidding rocky bowl gave the scene a desolate air, which oddly is missing from natural lakes.

Dour grey water with no signs of life. Fished all the way around, one little one, another missed, then a big one 18" rose up through the waves. I was overeager and took the fly away from him. Tut.

Krummholz at the treeline, blown by the winds and short growing season into strange shapes.

It was time to leave, had to make it back to trailhead by 6pm to catch the last shuttle bus. This was a considerable crimp to my usual style of battering out of the backcountry in the dark with a headlamp glowing weakly, as I'd forgotten to change the batteries since last year's desperate run for the hills. Still it was a pleasant novelty to walk out in the light. Found the trail again, ate an apple and took a picture of the lower lake.

The pool below these falls is again certain to hold a fish, unless someone caught it out recently. It was steep, I was late, and my bum knee wasn't happy with me: so that fish didn't get pestered today.

Ran a bit on the flatter sections of trail, to get ahead of the clock. The book on fishing Indian Peaks mentioned a nice bit of stream lower down. With the minutes earned by running I gave it a try, but started too early, in a beaver pond morass. Several fish moving in flat calm pool in a side trickle, spooked as I came up.  Got a little 6" brookie out of another pond and quit.

Down in Nederland at 8000 feet, the forecast:

At 11 000 ft it will be bleak: sneaked in under the snowline, for this year. Nine left.

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