Colorado Day 2 – In Town and Running Around

| August 24, 2010

Day two started with the knowledge that it was moving day. I knew I was due in Pagosa Springs to meet Leslie and the backpacking group at Kips after coming off the trail. Her cryptic call the day before did little to ease my mind, a message from altitude cut off just after saying she wasn’t going to make the second week with her friends on the Continental Divide trail.

That got my attention. I was left to guess what the physical problem was, and the entire trip would be recast in a different mold starting Day Two.

For what it’s worth, and playing the Texan card, I considered my goals for fishing in Colorado to be so low as to be attainable – going nello if you will. Doing it all myself, based on what information I could find in fly shops, books, magazines and the detailed itinerary from Joel Hays, I was satisfied to catch trout every day, and as a bonus catch as many different trout as were possible.

I packed it all up and headed out of Bridge Campground, down the increasingly rough 631 and into town. It was an early start with the idea of catching a cutthroat. I had heard about Crater Lake at some point, so I hit 160 and headed east at what seemed like blazing speeds compared to the dirt roads I had been on for the past two days.

Through Pagosa Springs and out on 160, and just before Wolf Creek, I finally found and took a right on 667. Somewhere at the end of the road begins a four mile hike to Crater Lake. It was a beautiful if hurried drive that gradually became more and more difficult. Things took a turn for the worse after my second water crossing, and I arrived at the proverbial fork in the road. The original 667 (also on maps as East Fork Road) split into 667a. “A” was what I wanted, but I could see extremely bad road conditions a hundred yards ahead, as if what I just came through wasn’t bad enough, and a sign saying “Four Wheel Drive Only.”

Now, I don’t want to take the risk of offending the Subaru Forester, and I am sure that my four-wheel-driving skills were up to the task, but at the end of the road lay a four mile hike to Crater Lake along “Crater Lake Trail 562.” The math of time didn’t add up, so I turned around and bailed out.

I went back through Pagosa Springs and fell back on one of the recommended days, big water at 160 where it crosses the Piedra. The idea of fishing a little, and getting blanked for the day, was setting in. Driving isn’t fishing just like talking and writing isn’t fishing.

I turned off 160 again, this time at 622 north bound along the east side of the Piedra. And the Piedra was flowing pretty good on the strength of daily monsoons. I parked when the clock said to stop, and boulder hopped my way in. Fly fishing, shooting video, and staying dry were all too much to ask, so video was out – as it should be.

A good drift and a nice take brought an extremely aggravated German brown trout to hand. There was not going to be any sight casting in this water. It was text book riffles behind boulders, edges of currents and classic holding spots. Time was ticking, but I managed another rainbow trout before time ran out.

I parked myself in a booth at Farrago Market Cafe, and tried to get an internet connection to go with my Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. It’s just west of Kip’s Grill and within eyesight of all church vans passing through Pagosa Springs. I had a great meal, great beer and zero internet connection, so it was time to sit outside in Kip’s in the shade and wait.


After a week apart … camping in the great wilderness … I am glad Leslie and I are “visual people” because if we were going on smell, it might be all over but the shouting. The adult trip leaders and high school age backpackers ate like it was their last meal. Leslie was having foot problems, but wanted to go see her second group off from their start in Creede.

We had one little problem, Leslie had forgotten where we were staying that night, so we stopped at an attractive little lodge called the Spruce Lodge, only to find out we were in the wrong place. So, the Spruce Lodge owner proceeded to call every lodge in the area, and finally found us at the Ute Bluff Lodge. I knew we were good when we saw the sign on the lodge office door … something about “Gone Fishin’, and the fish photos. The owner was more than happy to give me directions to one of his favorite cutthroat lakes that was close by. Sometimes it seems all you have to do is ask.

The sun was dropping and thunder and rain was threatening as we laid out our tents to dry before packing them away. Hummingbirds were moving from hanging plant to hanging plant getting high on nectar before the evening roost, and buzzing us if we were too close. The temperature was dropping and rains skipped around us, and the air dried out making it that much more NOT Texas.

All in all, it was a good day with fish caught, and another variety of trout caught, as if sampling another fine wine from another winery, on another beautiful day in paradise.

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Category: Colorado Report, Culture on the Skids, Eating and Drinking, Fishing Reports, On The Road

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