A last minute admit of a very difficult and angry woman put a snag in my plans to leave work early; I'm a nurse for a rural community mental health facility. Negotiations over what medications the patient will take, why she couldn't smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in the span of a few hours, redirecting aggressive behavior (bordering on abusive), and explaining what each pill was and why it looked different from what she was taking the past few weeks on the behavioral unit drained me more today than usual. I couldn't seem to escape from work and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to depart for the Boulders and end this horrid week. But I've learned a little extra work up front (taking the time to calmly answer the patients questions and provide support) will save me a lot of trouble in the back end. A few hours later than anticipated I was released from the confines of work and headed home to finish packing my gear.
So by the time I finally headed out of town it was nearly 9pm. Since I started this solo-trip (plus a dog) a lot later than anticipated, I decided to edit my plans a little and took a detour to Fish Lake for a middle of the night fishing sesson. Fueled my massive amounts of caffeine and whatever else is in the Maverick knock-off of 5-hour energy shots, I arrived to my new destination around midnight. The full moon gave me excellent visibility and I only needed my headlamp when I tied on flies. I couldn't find a willing party in my mouse pattern so I caved in after about an hour and went to a sub-surface presentation; mainly leech and crayfish patterns. I caught a host of chunky rainbows around 15" and called it quits around 5am when I began to feel chilled. When I disrobed I realized pin-holes had invaded my warders and I was left with soggy pants. About 15 minutes later I arrived at my campsite for the night; I opted to just sleep in the back of my Jeep GC rather then mess with a tent. The queen sized air mattress bulged beyond the space provided so I was only able to partially inflate it. In the rush to leave my house I forgot to pack a sleeping bag or even a blanket. I changed into multiple layers of clothing and huddled under the only covering I could find, a thin nylon hammock.
Sleep eluded me for the most part; it could have been the lack of warmth, a side effect of my indulgence in the pseudo-amphetamine sold next to the gas station register, or the fact that sunlight had blatantly invaded my sleeping space. After only a few hours I decided to give up on sleeping and push forward with the day. After skillfully reloading the Jeep with the gear I so haphazardly stacked outside just a few hours prior, I reached for keys that were nowhere to be found. After an hour of searching and researching anywhere they could have been hiding (all the time dodging the swarm of wild bees doing their thing to the adjacent rosebushes) I found the keys; only after getting stung of course.
I headed back to the same area Sam and I visited this spring. I decided to camp higher up the mountain but planned to fish the same lakes. The road was much more rough this time and I wasn't sure if my nearly bald tires were going to withstand the abuse. And if my tires didn't get destroyed I was sure my transmission was going to explode. My 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee just surpassed 200K miles and with a hope & a prayer I'll get a few more miles out of it.
I set up camp at the trail head of the lake Sam and I so adventurously trekked through waist high snow (without a trail but a lot of obstacles in the way) to get to but had a taste of great success. This time the trail was clear and I came with a float tube; ignoring those pesky pin-holes that haunted me the night prior. The shoreline of this lake is completely surrounded with tall pine trees which makes for difficult back casts. My hope was that fishing out of the tube would give me the edge to catch the large Tigers I knew inhabited this small body of water. I had some good shots at fish and saw many of the giant fish this lake is famous for, but nothing connected to my line. Soon enough the cold set in and my cloths became soaked by cold, high alpine water, so I was enticed to leave before the fish started to actively feed.
The following morning I contemplated whether to hike to the other lake Sam and I had such great success fishing this spring. The night prior went a little better than the last; I purchased a sleeping bag from the country farm store in Loa while passing through. But due to the sleeping bag being better suited for someone closer to the size of a child, I was still quite cold. And if I chose to make the 8+ mile round-trip to and from this lake I would need to spend another night freezing tail. I decided I might hit a few streams on my way back home and call my trip good; I wasn't sure how much more fate I wanted to tempt.
Just as I had loaded the last gear into my Jeep, a brand new Dodge truck drove past on their way down the mountain. Even though they had a good 10 minute head-start, I soon met their dust. Instead of riding their bumper off the mountain, I decided to take a detour to a lake I never went to and knew nothing about. I took the first opportunity to park once I saw enough room to pull to the side because I wasn't sure how rough the road would be ahead. I didn't expect to be gone long but since my backpack was already loaded for the 8+ mile hike I thought I would be taking today I decided to just grab it and go. When I reached the lake I was pleasantly surprised by it's size and the presence of a few rising trout. Without much delay I was into fish on a black leech pattern (a staple of the Boulder Mountains).
Once the skunk was gone I decided to fish "dry or die" the remainder of the day. I just completed building a Blue Halo 3wt and really wished I had packed it with me. But my trusty Redington CT 4wt sufficed and I brought more fish to the surface and to hand.than I cared to keep track of.
I started by throwing small parachute flies but ended the day throwing Chernobyl ants; the more ridiculous the colors the more enjoyable the catch. It seemed most rocks over a certain size had a resident fish willing to taste my offering.
Heading back down the mountain I came across an old pick-up parked in the middle of the road leaving no room to get around it, the driver was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes and a few more honks, a gentleman with gray hair came moseying down the hillside with a bucket in hand. Rather than berate his inconsiderate act, I quizzed him on the contents of the bucket; he gave me a crash course in Elderberry pomology. I quickly converted my 2.5 gallon water jug into a berry bucket and began acquiring my own collection of the berries that grew unabated along the hillside. Before long I filled the vessel to it's limit and continued down the mountain. What started as a comedy of errors ended in a wonderful trip and my Jeep continues to keep going; for now.