Thursday, January 9, 2020

high country 2019

The snows of yesteryear await the snows of September.

The last few years between family, work and etceteras, once a year in the high country is about the best I can do. Last year was October, this year I made it up early, in September. It took me some time to write it up, thinking slowly and moving even slower.

It was supposed to be a trail run on the way up. Between the rocks, steepness, and my getting old, there was much more walking than running. Expected 5 miles and a bit over an hour, turned out to be 6.5 miles (2500 ft climbing) and nearly two hours. Here's a brief runnable bit of trail.

I was puzzled by the presence of a couple of hefty guys in waders setting up on Betty lake as I arrived, stringing up fish (illegally). They did not sound or look like backpackers, and certainly didn't hike in ahead of me unless they started in the deepest dark. Alpacas ? Llamas ? dudes dropped off by horsepackers ?  Later research shows there is a 4wd road from Winter Park side up to Rollins pass, from where there is an easy mile downhill walk to get to Betty. Oh well I enjoyed it more with the sweat crusting on my shirt. Also, in terms of elapsed time from home, it's just as quick to run up, as drive around the mountains to sneak in from the backside, and way pleasanter than dealing with traffic.

Numbers of pretty little cutts like this, fast action but I couldn't hook them for some reason. I'd try to tighten on 15-20yds of line blown by the wind, and get a heap of flyline at my feet with only a distant swirl for entertainment. The rod is built on a cheap Chinese 4wt fiberglass blank, somehow always seem to pick it for these excursions. It's slower than I prefer but once I can relax, it will lay out long casts with minimal false casting. The 9' 3wt graphite would be a much better wind rod in these high lakes but not as much fun on the smaller fish.

As much of paradise as I expect to see.

Went up to the little stream between the lakes. It was full of fish, no easier but I like sneaking the little pools. Dropped the flies in there and he sailed out from under the bank.

Crawled up to the end of the trail, leaving the (relatively) easy lake.

Bob is a deep rocky lake, with not much evidence of life. One good fish cruising the shallows.


As I was catching this fish, four guys skied down from the Divide on that dirty patch of snow. One of them is standing just at the edge of the lower patch of snow in the picture. Saw them later and said it seemed like a lot of walking for a little skiing. They probably thought the same thing about my fishing.

Thunder rolled in and it was time to beat feet. Usually September in CO is calm, mild and reliably sunny through the day. Now we broke the weather, anything can happen.

Down to the little stream to see what lives there.

It always amazes me, even after many such experiences, to find the size of cutt that can grow up in these tiny creeks. I looked at this run and thought, 'no cover there, can't be a fish' then saw a slim brown shape working in the current. The hardest part of casting in these streams, is keeping the flies from hanging up on the bankside vegetation.

The first brook trout of the day was also the last fish, as I ran out of time.


I'd hoped to fish one of the bigger creeks below for its mix of little brooks and bows. By the time I got there we'd had a couple inches of rain and hail. The stream was running high and colored brown.  Also I was cold and wet and old, no longer up for gnawing the last thirty minutes of fishing out of the day.

Another year redeemed by a day outside. As Dead Horses sing,
I just wanna go where the soft wind blows
And the mountains are covered in the cloud shadows