Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting Away to the Mountains

I'm not sure how, but it feels like summer is already coming to a close.  A week-long spell of cool weather and a few golden leaves on the tree out back hasn't helped.  Nor has the preseason football games and talk of fantasy football drafts.  It's times like these, when the windows for the best things in life are closing, that you remember how quickly time goes and that you need to appreciate all the fine things right in front of you.
 
A Red Sox pitcher hitting Alex Rodriguez on a 3-0 pitch, sleeping in on a Saturday morning, enjoying a nice cold beer on the back deck as the sun sets and the sky turns a rosy peachy shade just before dark, or, and more importantly, the fleeting opportunities to head to the mountains to spend a day in nature chasing high country cutthroat trout.
 
Following a stream to a high altitude lake full of cutthroats.
 
Getting high in the drainage and closer to the lake.
 
On this particular day, the three miles and 2,000+ vertical feet are daunting as the summer BBQ's, trips and lawn mowing have done nothing to prepare me.  January and February evenings on the treadmill mean nothing now as I breath heavily and deeply and stop to think how much farther there is to hike.  I am greeted with the rolling green splendor of the Colorado mountain high country.  No cars or trucks passing by, no dogs barking, no one yelling into a cell phone.  Only the wind blowing through the air and the muted gurgle of the nearby creek.
 
Cresting the last ridge to the lake.
 
I have been to this lake before and know that I am close.  That knowledge fuels my churning legs through the last steep pitch to the hidden jewel.  Within a few moments of reaching my goal, the pack is off and the cool mountain breeze cuts into the sweat on my back reminding me of the effort.  Shortly after, the rod is strung and the line is wet, standing on the shoreline waiting for that familiar splash and tug.
 


Finally on the water.
 


The fish were not overly aggressive or large today, but interested enough in dry flies to provide for some fun.  The timing of a high country cutty trip takes planning, but mostly luck. Last year, I was here too early.  Ice still covered a majority of the lake and a storm blew in over the towering ridge to the west.  Thunder echoed and my rod gave me tiny electrical shocks prompting an early retreat in a drenching downpour.  Two years ago, I hit this lake just right and had a glorious day.  This year, it was a fine day in the mountains, allowing me to leisurely enjoy my time.....dry and not scared of being electrocuted.
 
Typical cutty from my day on the water.
 
I am not a huge foodie.
 
So this crispy cream did the trick as an afternoon snack.
 
These next few weeks will be a somewhat frantic chase for me of the fine late summer weather and gorging high altitude trout before the cooler weather of fall blows in to begin the slow march toward winter.  Fall will find me fishing at lower altitudes, but for now, it's into the hills and after those cutty's.  Tomorrow, I plan on a trip to a small stream full of cutthroats, some still looking up for flies on the surface, where I will explore, investigate, bushwack, hopefully catch some fish and relax streamside with a beer or two and, perhaps, another donut.  While I can.
 
Enjoy your time on the water.