06 February 2011

2010 Colorado Camping: backcountry

I know, I know...I promised to post more pictures from the camping trip that Trinh & I took last August, and here it is in February...almost 7 months later. PUTHetic.
Better late than never, so deal. This series captures most of the better shots we took in the backcountry, and it'll be followed by a few others. We landed in the Springs, drove up to Buena Vista and camped over night, then camped another night on our way to Denver.
She took this blue sky shot, as well as the...er, not sure what to call that (below).

This was the stream above the beaver ponds at our first camp spot. It was T3's first proper trouting adventure, and she actually rose a fish (to an #16 EHC, naturally) here completely unassisted by me (except for typical guiding services like knot-tying and pointing out likely spots). I was terribly proud. She hooked another on a soft hackle, but we didn't land any.

I think she would have had a deluge not ripped down the valley and sent us sprinting back up the hill to the truck. It was the first time she'd ever really tried to run at altitude, and it scared her! She couldn't figure out why her lungs were burning. I was dyin' too, but knowing why didn't make it any less depressing. Still doesn't.

The creek was blown out by the rains, so we dropped by the lake the next morning. Success!
She hooked and played that fish like it was her 100th instead of her 1st. I netted it, nothing else.

Yes, she touched it. And yes, she released it. We caught a couple more, too.

Minor philosophical digression: I fished pretty hard for a couple decades, especially when I was single, mostly in full awareness that it was a largely hedonistic endeavor. That realization came early one delightful summer morning in the mid-90s in Northern California. I'd spent 7 or 8 weeks wandering six states and two provinces in a near-frantic search for trout and steelhead, and I'd had a dreadful night's sleep because I'd pitched camp about 3m from a railroad track. I'd driven 4 hours and fished for 12 the day before, and it must've been around 10 PM when I got off the water -- then got turned around in the dark and spent a couple inglorious hours hiking out and looking for my Jeep. I was exhausted and ravenous. I rolled into the first open patch I could find, threw up the tent in the headlights, stuffed my face with junk food and crashed hard. It wasn't until the longest, loudest freight train on earth came rumbling by a few minutes later that I realized my mistake. The trains ran all night long, but I was too wasted to consider moving.

I awoke to a splendid morning, but I didn't feel like fishing. It had suddenly crystallized that the whole thing was a chasing after the wind, and that my sorry ass was doing pitiably little for humanity laying around the mountains in a tattered tent and tossing feathers and fur at various scaly species.

Irony #1: I didn't go home. I kept fishing, but with a new sense of awareness -- both of self and of the surrounding nature. I fished fewer hours but caught more fish, noticed more wildlife, and generally lived more deliberately, more deeply. I've talked with other hardcore fishheads about this, and some of them have experienced similar epiphanies. Hmmm.

Irony #2, fast forward 15 years: I reside in suburban Houston, surely one of the most ungratifying places on earth for a trout bum from Colorado to live. I have two wonderful children, and there's nothing on earth I enjoy more than spending time with my family. Even fishing.

Irony #3, realized on this trip with Trinh: heresy though it might be to some, I've occasionally wondered whether those years of Standing in a River Waving a Stick were selfishly sown, time that might somehow have been better spent. I suspect that most responsible, maturing fish heads have at least crossed swords (rods?) with that notion. But being awoken in a tent on this trip by my precious daughter, eager to explore the wilderness outside, I realized that my backcountry time had not been wasted: I'd been honing useful skills that my kids need to learn, gaining an appreciation of nature from which they'll benefit, and scouting places to take them.

My camping spot in a pullout 3m from a railroad track won't be one of the places we stop. But this place was, and I've got a hundred more spots in mind that they might like...

We hauled outta there (yes, she rode shotgun on most of the dirt roads -- something she doesn't get to do in Houston, and an only partially successful precaution against car sickness) and went here:
No fish, but we didn't get rained out.

Seaweed and rice, naturally. Me, I ate venison (not pictured).
Dinner was followed by a short night hike. I thought she'd be spooked by wandering around in the dark, but she wasn't. Happy Trinh Trinh....Happy Daddy.

1 comment:

Janine Evans said...

you're just plain awesome.