I always have mixed feelings about my last day in the mountains. I wait all year for this trip and just as soon as it gets here, it is over. However, there is also the relief of knowing that I will get to speak with my family. It gets harder and harder to leave them. So with sadness and some relief, we found ourselves on the final day of this trip.
I found some sleep last night, but morning still came early. I gathered some of our gear and packed some things away before the others woke. I also cleaned myself up a little and managed a cup of hot chocolate. Soon everyone was awake. As with every year, Wes made his final day pancakes. They were good and warm and even resembled real breakfast food. The rest of us began the process of packing up camp.
With packs ready and a final lap around the campsite complete, we headed back down the trail for a few more hours of fishing and hiking. It amazes me how much faster the hike goes on the way out. We were back at Cony creek in no time, and soon we were rigged up and ready to fish. Wes and Steve went one direction while Mike and I went in the other.
After being spoiled fishing the Hutcheson Lakes, the fishing on Cony was a bit slow. We managed several fish, but the action was not as fast and furious as it had been the day before. Feeling frustrated at losing a box full of my favorite flies was beginning to set in, and I was having one of those mornings where I could not keep my fly out of the trees.
Unfortunately, Mike was having the same luck.After taking a deep breath, we were finally able to settle down and catch a few fish. We attempted to film and put forth a good effort, but my eagerness to fish was waning. After several small fish, it was time to pack the rods and find our way back to the trail head.
The hike was busy. It was a Saturday morning at the peak of the touring season. We encountered several groups of day hikers and backpackers along our way. One gentleman and his two teenage boys were embarking on a fifty mile hike that would take them out of the park before returning at the end of the week. It was both an ambitious and impressive plan. I was jealous of those boys.
Another group we talked with had ties to Ohio. A gentleman in this group was a retired dentist that had graduated from The Ohio State University. It was a good conversation that could have lasted for hours, but his wife insisted that they leave us to our hike. We continued our march back to the trailhead, each of us quiet and thoughtful. We were alone with our thoughts and able to make peace with leaving such a beautiful place.
The end of the trail found us relieved to get out from under our packs and back into shoes that were much cooler and comfortable. The ride out of the mountains was just as spectacular, but far more depressing than it was exciting. It was time for a quick stop at the Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop and then onto real food.
Steve took us to Oskar Blues, a small brewery in Lyons, and I had the best burger that I have ever eaten. While we were there, I finally had the chance to meet Josh Rickard (Rockymountainflyfisher.com). Josh has produced several short videos for his YouTube channel. His Fishing with Confidence series of videos are very well done and packed full of good information. He also has an amazing amount of knowledge about the insects that feed the local fish. He and I have been corresponding via email for several months. He was kind enough to have dinner with us. He is a great guy, and we were happy to get to spend a little time with him.
After an awesome dinner and some good company, we were finally on our way back to Steve’s for some real sleep and a hot shower. There is no better shower than the one you take after spending several days in the back country. To say it was welcomed would be an understatement. We all caught up on phone calls and emails before settling in to some amazing salmon dip and the Olympic Games. It was a good time reliving the trip and fantasizing about future trips with this good group of men.
A better sleep would come. The next morning found us on our way to the airport for an early flight. No more anomaly issues. However, I could have sworn that I heard somebody say tarpon?