As I sit here and slowly digest this trip, it becomes hard to remember all of the details of such an amazing adventure. I do remember this: it was an incredible journey. Our adventure began with our trip to the airport. Now I am no world traveler, and I do not really enjoy the airport, so when the TSA singled me out because of what they called a “groin anomally,” I was not sure as to whether I should feel proud, embarrassed, or violated. I do know that it was an uncomfortable experience, and I could do without having to go through it again. (I will let you come up with your own jokes.)
Our flight was late and after a twenty minute delay, we were finally on our way to meet Steve and Wes in Denver. However, the flight would be delayed further when the shut down the Denver airport due to weather. We flew around over Wyoming in a holding pattern until it was time to finally land. Steve and Wes were waiting at the gate and we were soon on our way to find food and grab our fishing license. After a good pizza and a stop at Walmart, we were headed to Steve’s house to check our gear and prepare for our hike.
Needles to say, Mike and I did not get much sleep. The anticipation and excitement of the hike and the fishing kept me up most of the night. Finally, our day had come. Our trip would start with a stop in Estes Park. We needed to grab our back country permit and some breakfast. Estes is a beautiful place and I always enjoy stopping there. After obtaining the necessary permit, we were on our way to the trail head.
This year’s hike would take us to out of the Allenspark trail head and up to Pear Lake. It was a six and a half mile hike to camp that would include a stop at Coney Creek to fish for a couple hours and eat some lunch. The hike was beautiful and the climb through the park was a bit more arduous than last year’s visit. However, the scenery was just as amazing. We hike along the trail in the shadow of Long’s Peak. The mountains were glorious in their grandeur, and I was happy to be in their presence once more.
We continued our climb until finally making the decent down to Finch Lake. Finch Lake is too shallow and is barren of trout. However, Cony Creek runs right along the side of the lake and its waters abound with greenback cutthroat trout. Mike and I were anxious to fish and soon we were rigging rods and tying on flies in search of our first Greenbacks. The water was gin clear and the fish could be seen easily holding in their lanes and feeding eagerly. It did not take long for Mike to hook up and his excitement was quite obvious.
We fished for a couple of hours and each managed to catch our fair share of fish. I was satisfied and ready for to finish the journey to camp. A quick trail lunch and we were soon on our way. The hike up to Pear Lake from Finch Lake is not a long hike, but it is a challenging hike. The trail is steep and rugged. It took some time and effort to reach our camp site, but we were there with plenty of time to set up camp, grab some and fish some more before dinner.
Mike and I fished the little creek that ran along camp and found it full of three inch trout. Although they were very pretty, I did not hike almost seven miles to catch fish that small. We decided to run down to Cony and see what we could find there. That hike was only fifteen minutes, but it was an adventure getting there as well. We rock hopped and ducked deadfall for a half mile before finally finding the stream. Fortunately, it was full of the healthy fish that we had come to find. We only had about a half hour to fish before getting back for dinner, but the fishing was worth the mess we hiked through to get there. Getting back was not quite as easy, but we managed to get back in time to wake Wes and Steve from their naps.
Dinner: I am still waiting to have a good meal in the mountains. Freeze dried food just does not have the flavor of fresh food. My mac-n-cheese with a bag of tuna was filling, but I will not be making it for the family here anytime soon!
After dinner we were off the Pear Lake. The seven minute hike to the lake was worth the views. The lake was calm and the sound of melting snow cascading down the mountain was calming. We each spread out in search of fish. I was surprised not to see as many fish as I had hoped. The lake was crystal clear and I expected to see fish cruising in every direction, but the fish sightings were sporadic and the fish catching was even more sporadic. I managed to miss a few fish before finally catching what would be my largest fish of the trip. With darkness now setting in, it was time to head back to camp for a quick clean up, a hot chocolate and a few hands of euchre. Sleep would soon follow.There is plenty more to come…