The evening before, we loaded our packs with sleeping bags and tents, some warm clothes, too many boxes of flies and then threw in a water filter to avoid any unwelcome homecoming surprises. On top of all this, we crammed zip-lock bags filled with food including a mixture of peanuts and M&Ms, a noodles Alfredo dehydrated concoction and enough garlic bread to make the Alfredo seem like a real meal. We lashed fishing rods and sleeping pads to the outside of our packs and as an afterthought, someone threw in a deck of cards. Although this would be only an overnight trip, it seemed like we were taking as much as we would for a week.
Our goal was to reach two remote lakes that I had had great fishing on earlier in the summer. My companions were two twenty-year old boys. One was my son, Ben, the other his best friend, Michael. Both boys were All-State football and basketball players in high school and although now juniors in college, still in very good shape. My only hope was that I could keep up!
We left home at 7:00 AM and were at the trailhead by 8:30 AM... a remarkable feat!
For the next few hours, we huffed and puffed over glacial moraines, hiked alongside beautiful little creeks and worked into a steady rhythm all the time steadily climbing higher and higher. The boys patiently waited for me at the top of the biggest hills usually goofing around until I caught up with them. By early afternoon, we had made the first of the lakes at 10,000'. Happy to get rid of the extra baggage, we dropped our packs beside a shallow pond. Soon tents were up, food was stored where critters couldn't get to it and not too soon thereafter, we rigged rods and took off to fish.
Ben broke the ice and quickly got a few strikes, but just as quickly he lost the two fish to broken leaders. Mike and I laughed as Ben got madder and madder. The more we laughed, the broader became Ben's smile until finally he was enjoying our reaction as much as he was the fishing. Hoping to end Ben's misery, I put down my rod and rock-hopped over to him. I built him a new leader and reluctantly ended our amusement.
Over the next few hours, we fished our way down the shore catching fish after fish. They were all healthy cutthroats... fat little trout of 14 to18 inches. It was great fun on our 4 wts. We took photos, laughed at each other's miscues and had a great time fishing this stunningly beautiful area. When we reached the end of the first lake, we climbed up and over Volkswagen-sized rocks to the second lake. Although the fishing wasn't as good here, I had had spectacular fishing on this lake earlier in the summer having landed two (out of 25) fish over 20 inches. Even though the fishing was a bit slow, the scenery was spectacular as immense vertical cliffs and 12,000' peaks surround this upper lake.
Soon enough the shadows stretched out and we decided it best to get back to camp, cook up some grub and relax after our tiring, yet invigorating day.
As we dined on the garlic bread and a surprising good Alfredo, the high peaks took on a reddish glow. This phenomenon is called alpenglow and with the sun setting to our left and the alpenglow burnishing the 12,000-foot peaks to our right, it was a truly beautiful evening. We never even thought about playing cards.
After it became dark, we retired to our tents and slept well through intermittent sprinkles that gently peppered our tent's thin walls. We awoke to a clear dawn and fished lazily until noon. Then we packed up gear and made the downhill trek home. At one point the boys said, "We need to make this trip a tradition and do it every year." I could have heard no finer words and I've already thought about where we can go next year.
Written by Scott Heywood