Posted By shefisher

Elk at HeckendorfToday brought a case of winter blahs. There isn't enough good snow for snowshoeing or anything else fun. The river is bordered with just enough ice to make wade fishing a precarious proposition. I finally dragged "The Guy" out of the house for a drive to somewhere.

"Somewhere" turned out to be north to Clear Creek Reservoir and the little huddle of buildings called "Granite." The only wildlife we saw at Clear Creek were ice fishermen scattered across the frozen reservoir, peering hopefully into their targeted holes in the ice.

Bighorn Ram Granite proved more rewarding. Across the river on the downstream end of town, a herd of about 40 Bighorn Sheep reclined in a ragged row along a low ridge. Ewes folded themselves around their bellies, showing the beginnings of the wait for spring lambing. Seven rams wandered and watched over their herd on the rocky slope close above their harem. They ranged in size from good-n-healthy big to magnificently massive.

After watching a couple of hefty brown trout lounging under the Granite bridge, we headed back south. On an off-highway detour, we spotted a small herd of elk in a meadow at the base of 14,000' Mt. Columbia.

No more 'winter blahs' on such a lovely day visiting our neighbors here in mountain paradise.

Bighorn Sheep herd

 


 
Posted By shefisher

Mt Princeton My home over there, now I remember it!
And when I see that mountain far away,
Why, then I weep. Alas! What can I do?...
My home over there, now I remember it!
(Tewa Song, Margot Astrov in The Winged Serpent, p.222)

Coming Home. A slow succession of feelings flows over. Relief at safe arrival slides by in the background, overshadowed by a sense of comfort at being in one's own place. That comfort is temporarily shelved, however, first by the slight tug of sadness that the adventurous journey is over, then by the realization of all the work that stands between the home-comer and the home-enjoy-and-relaxer.

flyfishcafe.com It was still snowing when I left in late May. Snow covered the peaks, trees were just budding, flowers were but a promise. Now the summer's weeds have taken over the driveway and yard. The small tree has become a bush with all the watershoots that have sprouted. The Canadian Red Cherry's stark sticks now sport dark leaves and are laden with ripening red fruit. A small patch of last year's wildflowers welcome me with white blooms. Inside, the laundry room braces for its upcoming task. Every horizontal surface awaits relief from its dusty covering. The bare fridge and cupboards beg to be replenished. But the shower's call wins out over all other voices.

flyfishcafe.com A new addition greets me as well. Phil surprised me by replacing the rickety, roofless original porch with a new redwood deck. As you read this, we have been home several days. Already my own special carpenter has advanced the deck toward completion.

You have experienced it, that odd time warp after a vacation. Once you are back home, you have this feeling that the trip was only a dream, questioning whether you went away at all. With the extended timeframe of our trip, it's a bit different. Like Rip van Winkle, these surroundings look so different than when I left, and are so different than the spaces I lived in over the last months, that this almost feels like the unreality. But I do know one thing, there is nothing like living in one room and sharing a bath for weeks, then two of us living in a truck camper for even more weeks, to make this small abode seem spacious. Click my heels, there's no place like Home.

Footnote: There is so much I didn't have time to write or post on the trip. The stories will continue for awhile, once I get reset here. I'm going to write them for "me," but I'd like it if you came back and read along. Thanks.


 
Posted By shefisher

Cameron Pass CO Flyfishcafe.com Whine - tickle - smack. Repeat over and over. It didn't seem bad at first, but it became the theme song of late afternoon and evening. Mosquitoes. Alas, the blood-sucking miniature buzzards are here in force. Time for Eau d' Cutters.

There is a control system, though the solution may seem worse than the problem. Bats. One seems to live in the bushes where we are camped, apparently accustomed to human companionship. Rather than the normal quickly darting flight, this one fairly ambles through the air, presumably sipping his entomological tidbits at ease. I became concerned as Phil's flyline flung a fake fly. I've had birds take my fly. Would this bat try to eat it? The bat, though, seemed more attracted to the rod tip, nearly landing on it. When Phil flicked him away, Mr. Bat made a slow but deliberate track straight toward me. That was enough! I was in the camper in the blink of an eye.

The full darkness of night brought other adventures. When we pulled the outside door closed over the screen door, we saw a dark shape between the doors. It turned out to be our friend the bat, clinging to the screen. He had followed insects who'd been drawn to the inside lights. Getting the bat off the screen without letting him into the camper was quite a trick. Later, during the wee hours of night, we heard rattling that we hoped was outside, not in. Maybe a raccoon was attracted to the bag outside that held our belly boats. Phil got up, went outside and put the bag on top of my SUV. It was some time before we could go back to sleep.

Next morning, life in the wild had settled down. Sitting out by the lake with a morning cup of coffee sounded good. I sat down and turned to put my cup in the chair's holder. A dark shadow in the holder caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was what appeared to be a dead bat! I couldn't get away from that chair fast enough! Calm, brave Husband came over to look, pronouncing it not dead but merely asleep. Oh, thanks, that makes it all better! He unceremoniously tossed the bat out of the chair into the nearby bush. Given the choice, I'll take the mosquitoes.

The unraveling continued. When Phil pulled the belly boats out of the camper, a mouse scampered across the floor. It was, no doubt, the mystery noisemaker from the night before. It was dispatched as quickly as the sleeping bat. High winds, thunder and lightning, and a mishap with my car added to the stress. This trip has worked out well because we've followed our instincts. This is beyond instinct; it's more like overwhelming evidence. It's time to call the game and head for home. That humble little house in Nowhere-ville never sounded so good.


 
Posted By shefisher

Flyfishcafe.com moon Summer in Walden, Colorado. This little ranching town that folds up into the deep lonely cold of winter is alive with visitors in the warmth of summer. Traffic is steady, restaurants are busy, some main street buildings show off their face lifts. Two new motels compete for visitors' attention. After joining the fray to refill pantry, flyboxes, and our own bellies, we head out west to the Delaney Butte Lakes. On the way, we toss a line into one of Colorado's own northbound rivers, the North Platte. I got a couple of whitefish fingerlings while Phil found some big rainbows. That just didn't seem fair, so I headed upstream until I found some of my own 'bows.

Flyfishcafe.com Rainbows As evening blended into night, fish rose along the shore in front of our lakeside camp. I cast out a fly and caught a nice rainbow. Phil decided to get in on the action and caught several while I sat out and enjoyed the evening. As darkness descended, a full moon rose, shining across the lake. A brood of ducklings followed their mom across the dark velvet blue water. It was a restful end to a long day on the road.

We float-fished the East lake the next morning. It must have been stocked recently, as most of the fish were very small. Phil's the Lake Whisperer, though, so he found more of the bigger ones than I did before the wind chased us off. By the time we got back to our South lake campsite, dark clouds were bearing down. Soon the lightning and thunder came in closer and closer couplets. One was nearly simultaneous right over us. Once it passed, however, the sun cut under the clouds to create not only one, but a double rainbow right over the lake. It was so big and so close that I couldn't even get it into a single picture.

Flyfishcafe.com grayling They say you can't go home again. Maybe that's true. Our next day at Chambers Lake, a fishing and camping destination for me since decades ago, turned out to be a challenge. We drove over on Friday. The campground was already completely booked. We did find a spot, the last in a marginal facility, lucky to get it at 10:30 a.m. The weekend crowding only got worse, and the fishing wasn't good, either. I did get my brown trout from the Poudre River, but only the one. The only bright spot was our evening run up to Joe Wright Reservoir, the best-known grayling fishery in Colorado. I had a blast catching even small ones, always admiring the distinctive dorsal fin. An added bonus was the greenback cutthroat I caught, likely an escapee from the protected rearing lake higher up the mountain.

We elected to be escapees, too, leaving these crowds to return to Delaney the next morning. Stay tuned.


 
Posted By shefisher

Flyfishcafe.com nest Driving into Dutch John on the Green River was like arriving at my second home. I've grown to love this river and this area, despite the marginal living arrangements I've had to make these 2 years. It's the people and the area's beauty that hold me. After "hellos," a shower, and laundry, we started feeling human again. Our campsite at Mustang Ridge gave us a view of Flaming Gorge Reservoir across to the dam. In the late evening, an almost-full moon rose, reflecting its silver crescent in an elongated obelisk toward us over the lake.

Flyfishcafe.com swimmers Fishing was reportedly good on 'hoppers. We tested the theory the next day. The water was high but crystal clear, so fish were cautious to rise. The only hopper pattern they would take was one I did not have. Fortunately, Phil had the right one and an extra to loan me. We did catch fish, some nice size, but we felt we truly earned them. At one point, as I strategized my approach to a particular run, I was interrupted by a family of mergansers. Mama kept watch on the point of a rock as her young ones huddled together napping. I skirted around to fish the prime fish feeding point. Once there, I heard some splashing behind me. There were the merganser ducklings, moving upriver toward me, diving and bobbing up again as they advanced. Mergansers are fish eaters, so while they were cute, they were not welcome companions in my fishing spot. They eventually moved on through, but I had to do so as well.

Flyfishcafe.com Gates of Ladore Two of the people we had wanted most to see were not around for a few days, Emmett in particular, so we moved on. My own vehicle, stored here for our Idaho and Montana sojourn, started up right away as though glad to roll down the road with me once again. I made the choice to drive into Colorado via the back road to Maybell. I opted for the old Jesse Ewing road with its 14% curving grade into Brown's Park while Phil took the slick new straight road in the truck camper. Once in Colorado the road improved, taking us past the view toward Gates of Ladore. Here, where the mountain splits, the Green River takes its wild turn south to accept the Yampa River before turning west and south again to join the Colorado River.

The rest of the trip on to Walden, Colorado, was uneventful except for the slight emotional nudge I felt when descending the far side of Rabbit Ears Pass to the turn into North Park, Walden's home. We have lots of memories and fishing history together in this area. Deja vu all over again.


 


 
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