Lagniappe

Oh Shenandoah

By TB

We had a dichotomy of water for much of this year, too much in the West and too little in the East.  We endured record runoff in California which produced record flows in the streams.  As we came to the East, the concerns changed to not enough water.  This was true as we went Creek Stompin’ in WV and again as we fished in Shenandoah National Park.

The one Virginia river on the TU list is the Rapidan River just outside Charlottesville, VA.  Normally, we fish with a guide the first day we’re in an area, but since we left West Virginia a day early, we made it to Cville a day early and decided to fish the Rapidan on our own before fishing it the next day with a guide.

We stopped into Albemarle Anglers to check in and get some intel and flies to fish the Rapidan.  There is actually a fly called the “Mr. Rapidan” which has bright yellow posts on top and a dark colored body.  After getting some dries and droppers, we setup the SaraLinda in our campground and plotted our first day on the Rapidan.

Before heading to the river, we took a drive up to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park hoping to catch some views of the area.  As it turned out, the mountains were shrouded in fog and mist.  We could barely see the road in front of us, let alone any views of the Shenandoah Valley and surroundings.  We thought about hiking a couple of miles to visit the Hoover Rapidan Camp in the park where Herbert Hoover would come to escape the heat in Washington DC and fish the Rapidan River.  After having lunch at the Big Meadows cafe, instead of hiking to Hoover Camp, we headed back down to fish the Rapidan from the valley upstream.

We drove out Graves Road to its end, parked the Subaru and began hiking upstream on the Rapidan trail.  The river was on our right as we hiked up the mountain in the most oppressing humidity we’d experienced in years.  We were soaking wet from me sweating and Barb perspiring.   The fly shop had indicated we should hike about a mile before fishing so we’d get to some less pressured water.  Because of the Hoover Rapidan Camp, more people come to fish the Rapidan for its historical significance.

We found a few good holes, caught a few small fish and decided to head back, knowing we’d be fishing the Rapidan again the next day with our guide, Carson Oldham, of Albemarle Anglers.   Little did we know at that time what was to come the next day.

Carson met us at our campground, which was on the way to the river and off we went.  He’d forewarned us that the drive was up and over a mountain on a fire road to get to the upper stretches of the Rapidan.  When we hit the gravel portion of the road, Carson noted how rutted the road was on the side.  As we continued up the steep, gravel road, the ruts became much more pronounced, turning into large crevices in the road.  We were having to travel about 3mph to avoid bottoming out the car but the road kept getting worse and worse.  Carson was committed to getting us to the Rapidan’s upper reaches but we kept telling him it wasn’t worth busting the undercarriage of his car.  He finally agreed with us, especially given we still had 10 more miles to go and at 3mph, well…. you can do the math on how long it would take us to just get to the river to fish…. and we knew we’d likely have to drive back out in a pouring rain.  We still don’t know why the road was so torn up.  Carson told us its normally a great road.

So… what to do.  Plan B took us to the Hazel River in Shenandoah NP and more creek stomping.  We had a great time fishing with Carson on the Hazel, hiking upstream over rocks and boulders, fishing small holes for beautiful brook trout.  It rained all day on us, but didn’t deter us from making it a full day fishing on the Hazel.

Carson told us there are even better brook trout streams in the area, so we’ll definitely be coming back to Virginia and Shenandoah National Park.

There are two streams in West Virginia that are on the Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams, the Cranberry River and Seneca Creek.  Last year we fished the Cranberry River, which proved challenging given we’d never fished the river and we had no guide.  As we approached fishing Seneca Creek, we found ourselves in the same position, never seen it and no guides around.  We started to wonder just why these two streams were on the list in the first place, but undaunted, we headed to Seneca Rocks, WV, to fish Seneca Creek.

When we arrived in the area around noon, we talked with some of the staff at the Smokehole Resort where we were staying. They indicated that the water levels in Seneca Creek weren’t too good.  In fact, the river running right behind the SaraLinda, the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, which Seneca Creek runs into, was incredibly low, a great indicator that Seneca Creek wouldn’t be any better.   We also learned that there was a large fire in the mountain above us, with around 50 firefighters deployed and another 50-100 more firefighters on their way and would be checking into the cabins next to us.

We hooked up the SaraLinda and decided to go checkout Seneca Creek, following the directions written in the TU book. When we reached Seneca Rocks, we turned onto Highway 33 and drove until we saw White’s Run Road.   We turned onto the road and headed up the mountain until we found the parking area next to the Seneca Creek trailhead.   We were the only car there.

We got out in a light drizzle, rigged up our 7′ rods and began hiking up the trail.  The book said to hike up a ways before beginning to fish, but as we checked out the stream as we hiked deeper into the woods, there was not a soul in sight.  After about 1.4 miles, we came to a spot where the trail crossed Seneca Creek.  We stopped, looked up and down the creek, not seeing much water to fish.  After walking another .3 mile further upstream, seeing no deep holes to fish, we came back to the crossing and waded in, deciding we’d find the deepest holes we could and drift a small stimulator through it.

After trying this in 3 or 4 small holes, a small brook trout took the stimulator… we had a fish on Seneca Creek.  We fished a bit more, but decided that the water was just too low to fish more so we headed back to the SaraLinda.  We talked that night and decided we’d give Seneca Creek a rest, not wanting to stress the small brookies that might be hiding in any water they could.

The next day, we went over the mountain on Smoke Hole Road to fish the South Branch of the Potomac, which we’d heard had some water in it.   We fished near Eagle Rocks in a beautiful fall setting.  We hooked into some creek chubs on dry flies, so, the fishing was fun.  As we headed back over the mountain to the SaraLinda, we came across a staging area full of firefighters.  The road was still open, but was now being used as a basecamp for fighting the fire.  Further along the road a light rain began to fall.  As we rounded a corner, this incredible double rainbow appeared out of nowhere.  It was so close we felt like we could touch it.

While we found the fishing in West Virginia very challenging, we found the natural beauty of the state amazing.

When we booked our guide trip on the Animas River (see Animas Antics) with the good folks at Duranglers in Durango (CO), I asked them about other fishing opportunities in the area we might want to try.  We always ask the fly shops this question in case there is a “nunya” creek that is fishing hot, or a special, scenic river nearby.  In this case, the shop said “You’ve gotta ride the train up toward Silverton and get off along the way to fish one of the remote mountain streams.”  Well…. it sounded like a pretty good plan so we called the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (DSNGR) company and booked a couple of tickets.   We told them we wanted to fish one of the creeks along the way, so we needed to be dropped off.  The shop recommended Cascade Creek in Cascade Canyon so that’s what we booked.

The day arrived and we made it to the station on time to catch our 8:45 train and off we went.  The “Cascade Canyon Caper” video really tells the rest.  We hope you enjoy it!

When we were planning our 2017 “Ramble” dates, we purposefully wanted to be in the Roaring Fork valley for the 4th of July. We’d heard of incredible fishing in both the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers, as well as incredible fireworks in towns all along the valley.

We arrived in the valley on July 3rd and setup the SaraLinda at the Gateway RV Park in Carbondale (CO).   The RV park is set right on the Roaring Fork and the Rio Grande “hike and bike” trail that connects Glenwood Springs with Aspen.  We learned that there was a “fire ban” in effect for the area and all fireworks displays were cancelled except for Glenwood Springs.

About a month before arriving in the valley, we’d contacted Frying Pan Anglers (FPA), a fly shop in Basalt (CO), and asked about booking a guide trip on the Roaring Fork for July 4th.  I’d asked, “do you have guides who go out on the 4th”, to which the shop guy said “the fish don’t care it’s the 4th of July”.  DUH!   We laughed and booked the trip.

At 8am on the 4th of July, we met our guide, Ed Deison, at the shop and headed off to fish the Roaring Fork.  When we got to the boat ramp, it was clear this was going to be a VERY busy day on the river.  There were already 3 drift boats in the water at the dock waiting to start their trip and another 4 rafts ready to enjoy a pleasure float down the river.  In the parking lot, the boats and rafts just kept coming, lining up, awaiting their turn to put in.   It was going to be a bit crowded on the river it seemed.

Undaunted, Ed pushed us off and floated down a bit to rig up our rods, away from the craziness of the boat ramp at Carbondale.   We met another FPA guide, Dillon, who turned out to be from Austin (TX) and had gone to Lake Travis HS and Texas A&M on a baseball scholarship.  Small world!

After we’d rigged up, we started down the river and began what would become an “epic” day of hooking and landing really big, beautiful brown and rainbow trout.   We started by throwing dry flies toward the banks, bringing these  hungry trout to the surface to hit our flies.  When that slowed a bit, we went to nymphing for them and things heated up even more.

We always like to take at least one picture of a fish we’ve caught on a particular river, so when we caught a nice brownie early on, Ed wanted to make sure we got that one pic, so he pulled the boat over for the photo op.  While we don’t count the number of fish we catch on days like this, it was a lot.  When we’d catch an even bigger fish, Ed would pull over and get another pic for us.  While we were landing what was our biggest fish of the day, Ed took a pic with his phone for the shop blog.  When Dillon pulled up, his client had landed an even bigger brown trout.  It was that kind of day.  Lots and lots of big fish.

When we finally arrived at our take out spot in Glenwood Springs, it was insanity.  The boat ramp was so busy with everyone  either taking out, or putting in, or getting ready for the fireworks that were happening that night at the park.  For us, our fireworks had already happened on an “epic” fishing day on the Roaring Fork.

We’d been looking forward to our trip down the Gunnison Gorge for some time.  We knew that the trip would be part whitewater running, part fishing trip and part sightseeing.  We were blessed to have Ben Magtutu, with Black Canyon Anglers, as our guide.  He was an expert in running the rapids, having floated the river through the Gorge more than any other guide in a raft.  He knew where fish held between the rapids and knew what they were eating.  What was really impressive was his knowledge of the river’s history and geology.

Rather than a guide talk with Ben, we decided to create a video;  “Our Day in the Gunnison Gorge”.  We hope you’ll watch and enjoy our narrated journey to and down the gorge. It was a day we’ll always remember.

Ramble On

When we looked for hashtags for some of our Instagram posts, we encountered #californiaadventure.  This hashtag made sense given that our time in California turned more adventure than just fishing.  Why?  Water…. and more water…. and more water…. and not just any water…. raging, dangerous whitewater that was much more suited to thrill seeking kayakers than anglers.  At any moment, if you had a slip, a flip or a misstep you could find yourself in real danger.

So what could have been a normal fishing trip to seven different California rivers became an adventure finding safe, fishy water.  We had to hike deep into forests in search of small tributaries to fish the Kern.  We sloshed through marshes thick with mosquitos to fish the waters of the Owens.  We bushwacked along the Truckee to find waters that looked fishy.   We carefully navigated the banks of the McCloud, flowing at over 5 times normal, and hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail to catch the McCloud Rainbow.  We event took the “Road from Hell” to fish near the McCloud River Preserve.  We had a lucky encounter at a fly shop in historic Dunsmuir that led us to a spot on the Upper Sacramento where, after we traversed several railroad tracks, we caught a couple of bows.  We hiked over 7 miles along Hat Creek in search of trout.  About the only spot where we fished in what might be a “normal” way was on the Fall River, and even then, we had to lay down in the boat to get under one bridge to get to the hole where we ultimately had success.   All in all, the California rivers on the TU Top 100 trout streams list were challenging, exciting, and definitely provided us a #californiaadventure.

We always try to fish other waters than just the TU Top 100.  While in California, we wetting lines in Hot Creek, the Little Truckee and the Lower Sacramento.  We hiked down into the Hot Creek Canyon where Barb hooked a beautiful little brown that was hiding along the far bank.  The Little Truckee was flowing wild but we found time and a little spot to fish right next to a bridge.  As for the Lower Sac, we actually took a float trip with Matt Dahl and hooked into some big, beautiful California rainbows.

Speaking of rainbows, two strains of these gorgeous fish are local to California waters, the McCloud and the Kern river rainbows.  In fact, most all of the rainbows in trout streams around the world come from these two strains.  No matter if you’re fishing trout streams in Montana, New Mexico, New York, Argentina or New Zealand, when you hook a rainbow, chances are it came from the McCloud or Kern lineage.

As always, our trip isn’t just about fishing and we constantly remind people, “Its Not About the Fish”.  Our trip is as much about the people we meet and the places we visit along our Ramble.  California did not disappoint on both counts;  we were blessed with great guides at each stop.  Matt Dahl took us on a “Sac Attack” down the lower Sacramento when the Upper was dangerously high.  Matt also took us on our “Matt in the Hat (Creek)” adventure.  The venerable Ernie Dennison took us on the “Majestic McCloud”, even though it was flowing at the highest levels he’d ever seen and guided anyone on.  Matt Mitchell navigated the Fall River with us, even under the bridge, to experience the “Fall River Spring”.  As we headed down further south in California, “Stonefly Guy” Jeans showed us several Kern River tributaries which will go unnamed, but provided an awesome day of fishing small streams with 7’-3wt rods.  And finally, our man Gilligan showed us his backyard, “Gilligan’s Truckee”.   We’re already planning a trip back to California to fish all these rivers and hopefully fish for the Heritage Trout Challenge.   Our guides were awesome, and made our time on the water productive, interesting, educational and safe.

Even with all this fishing, we still had time for more adventures.  We took sightseeing trips to Lake Tahoe, the Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Forest, Dunsmuir and Mt. Shasta.  We’d have gone into Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, but, the roads into the parks from the Eastern Sierras were all still snow covered and closed.  Speaking of snow cover, we watched skiers and boarders STILL skiing at Mammoth Mountain, which is planning to stay open for skiing until August/September and Squaw Valley was also still open and planning operations until at least July.  Did we mention the BIG winter/spring snowfall CA experienced and the amount of water in the rivers? 😉

We also enjoyed some great food and music along the way.   We want to give a big shoutout to Crumbs in McArthur, CA.  When we were fishing the Fall River with Matt Mitchell, he recommended Crumbs to us and wow, what an amazing meal we had there.  This is a MUST VISIT place if you are in the area.  In historic Dunsmuir, you should definitely visit Yaks, a burger joint that made Yelp’s Top 100 list.  It had a great selection of local beers as well. Speaking of local beers, Mammoth Brewing and its Golden Trout Kolsch is not to be missed.  We also want to highlight Professor Colombo, a Huntington Beach band that was playing at Moody’s in Truckee.   Great music and vibe.

Finally, we hope you enjoy this montage of pics we’ve put together to highlight our time in California.   We try to highlight local musicians when we put together our state highlight videos and we are so very lucky to have music by the Stoneflys, an alternative/ska/reggae/jazz group from Kernville, CA.  What’s extra special to us is that this is Guy Jeans’ band!   Guy is a renaissance kind of guy as we found out during our visit to the “Nunya” creeks of the Kern drainage.  He was kind enough to let us use one of his band’s tunes for our “#californiaadventure” post.  Enjoy!

Ramble On

The first thing we noticed as we explored the Upper Sacramento, or Upper Sac as it’s better known, was that most everywhere you looked at the water, if you looked up, you’d see Mt. Shasta.  The mountain dominates the landscape in this area, and was actually visible from three of the four rivers we fished.  I think the only reason we didn’t see it from the McCloud River was that the McCloud River Preservation trail was closed (aka. under water) so we couldn’t get to a vantage point.  Even as you drive up and down I-5, Shasta is either in your windshield or your rear view mirror.  The picture above was taken from a pedestrian bridge on the Upper Sac.

Fishing the Upper Sac was another story all together.  Our first attempt was with our guide, Matt Dahl.  We looked at the river in three different locations, gave up due to the VERY high flows and went to the Lower Sac.

The next day, Barb and I decided to go to the historic little town of Dunsmuir, to the Ted Fay Fly Shop. We talked with Bob in the shop about where we might try to fish and as he was giving us some suggestions, another patron, Andy, told us what had been working for him and that he’d caught fish the day before.  After getting some flies from Bob, off we went to the river where the first image was taken.  As we were walking out of a spot we tried to access the river, we ran into Andy.  Andy told us to follow him and he’d show us a good spot to fish.  We followed Andy, and actually went back to one of the access spots Matt had stopped at originally, but Andy walked upstream a bit and showed us an “easy” access spot to scramble down to the river from the railroad tracks.  While we didn’t fish there that day, even though Andy invited us to join him, we made note of the spot and would return later.

We decided to go back to Dunsmuir for lunch at Yaks, which was voted by Yelp as one of the “Top 100 Restaurants in America”, 2015 edition.  Yaks is very cool place with incredibly unique and awesome burgers.  They had a pretty good selection of local brews as well.   We left stuffed and happy as we went to try a couple of other spots, but to no avail; the river was just too high and fast.

The following day, after we’d fished the McCloud with Ernie Dennison, he took us over to a different spot on the Upper Sac near the town of Mt. Shasta.  The river was still raging as we tried one particular spot and still, no fish.

Back we went the next day, with the flies in hand Bob had sold us, and directly to the spot Andy had shared.  We crossed the railroad tracks, scrambled down the path to the river and set to fishing on the rocks above the river (see pic 3 above).  After getting the right amount of line out, setting up our nymph rigs deep, we started casting out toward some large rocks submerged under the water.  BOOM…. first one, then two fish hit our flies and we’d scored our Upper Sac rainbows….  no “Skunking” on the Upper Sac.

After catching our Upper Sacramento rainbows, it was back to Dunsmuir, only this time, for a picnic lunch at a park by the river.  The park had numerous plaques on rocks and picnic tables commemorating area anglers who’d made contributions to the community and river.  One of the most famous of those was Ted Fay, whose fly shop in Dunsmuir we’d visited.  All of the plaques had wonderful thoughts and sayings on them that reminded us of the beauty, tranquility and peace to be found in the art of fly fishing and the outdoors where these streams flow.

We’ll not ever forget our time here in the “North State” as locals call it.  After spending a couple of weeks here in the area, we’ll also always feel Shasta is watching over us as our River Ramble adventures continue.

Ramble On

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we’re here in Bozeman, Montana, trying to outlast winter before heading back on the road, we decided to take a road trip to Yellowstone National Park.  We’d read about Yellowstone National Park’s “Spring Babies” in their April newsletter and wanted to see what wildlife was out and about.

We know you’re thinking, “Why aren’t you fishing there?”  Fishing inside the park is not allowed until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend each year.  And… we will be fishing in YNP several times this summer along Slough Creek, Soda Butte, the Lamar and Yellowstone Rivers.  No… this trip was about seeing what wildlife might be found.

At this time of year, the only road open into YNP is through the North Entrance at Gardiner, MT.  Nothing other than a small general store is open in the YNP Mammoth Hot Springs area.  This road is kept open to a small Montana town, Cooke City, which is a snowmobiler’s dream in winter and it’s the only road open to the town.  Beartooth Pass from Red Lodge, MT, is closed for winter as is the road from Cody, WY to Cooke City.  Cooke City is also the gateway town to YNP situated just outside the Northeast entrance to the park.

So off we went, picnic lunch packed, headed to Yellowstone.  When we went through the North Entrance to the park, we picked up an Interagency Senior Pass for Barb.  If you are 62 or over, go online (extra $10) or to your nearest national park and get one of these NOW!  Why?  Today, its $10 for a lifetime pass.  Sometime later this year, it’s going up to $80.  I know I digress, but these passes save you a ton of entrance fees AND give you access to the most special places anywhere, our national parks and monuments.

As we drove into the park, we saw the usual elk grazing on both sides of the road, along with a bison here and there.  The steep climb up the road to Mammoth which follows the Gardiner River didn’t reveal any new wildlife.  At Mammoth Hot Springs, the smell of sulfur and the beautiful yellow of the hot springs reminded us of why we love this park so much.

We headed the only way we could, toward Tower Junction and onward toward Cooke City.  We have a favorite picnic spot along this stretch of park road, and while it was too early for lunch, we still had to stop and take in the view.  Normally, we set up our camp chairs and chow down on our gourmet lunch of a PB&J with some chips and a cookie.  This day, we took our first photo which is the one featured on our splash page of this post.

Along the road, we saw the “Spotters” out looking for bears and wolves.  You know them by their big telescopes, lenses and the antenna on their cars and trucks so they can stay in touch with other “spotters” in the park.  Often, you’ll see a dozen or more of them, lined up at spots just looking out into the park, hoping to get a glimpse of movement and find their prey.   We’d not seen anything so we rambled on toward Cooke City, driving along the Lamar Valley.  When we started to encounter significant snow on the ground and one of our fav pullouts to have our lunch was closed due to snow, we turned around.  As we passed back over Soda Butte, one of our favorite fishing spots of all time, we snapped a picture of it with banks still covered in snow.

As we passed back through the Lamar Valley, we decided to stop for lunch and watch the herds of bison grazing and roaming.  One herd decided it was time to cross the Lamar while we were having lunch (see Pic 2).  It must have been time for them to move to greener pastures.

As we left our lunch spot and headed back toward Tower Junction, we spotted a small “jam” of cars, with numerous “spotters” so we stopped to see what they were looking for.   It was a bear of course but it had moved out of sight.  We decided to move on and right before we were set to cross the Yellowstone River, a small herd of Big Horn Sheep came out of nowhere and decided to cross right in front of us.  We snapped numerous pictures but posted Pic 3 above, as it shows something that is also prevalent in spring, wildlife shedding its winter coats.  While we really didn’t see many “babies” on our road trip, we did notice all the animals already shedding.   While we were still parked on the roadway, watching the sheep,  a red fox trotted across our path (see pic 4).

When we went back to Tower Junction,we encountered another “jam” filled with “spotters”, but this time, there was a black bear far up on the hillside.  Before I could get our camera out, lens cap off and focused, it had disappeared into the forest.  We stayed there for another 15 minutes hoping it would reappear, but not this time.

As we were leaving the park, I’d mentioned to Barb that we’d not taken any pics of elk.  Lo and behold, as were were driving back down from Mammoth Hot Springs to Gardiner, we saw this elk (pic 5) snacking beside the road, showing off his “rack in progress” and keeping with the theme of wildlife, his winter coat shedding.

As we left the park, we remarked, “this doesn’t ever get old”.   We go into YNP whenever we’re out in Montana.  It draws us back again and again.  Its vast expanses.  Its amazing wildlife.  Its beautiful rivers full of cutthroat trout.  And yes, we’ll be back in July!

Ramble On

 

Madison Redux

By TB

Last year, we fished the Madison River both inside Yellowstone National Park and outside in Montana.  The Madison is one of those rivers that always produces fish and sometimes gives you an “epic” day on the water.  We had that epic day, inside the park, with Patrick Daigle of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, swinging flies in October.  We had another epic day on the wate,r outside the park, this past week with Steve Smith of Rivers Edge Fly Shop in Bozeman.

Barb and I were in a boat with Steve and our Bozeman friends, Sue Doss and Dud Lutton along with their dog Solomon, joined us for the trip.  We put in at Burnt Tree on a cold, breezy morning and were a bit concerned about even more wind and cold hitting us all day.  As it turned out, if it did get colder and windier, we didn’t care because we were ON fish all day.

We fished from the boat most of the morning but focused on the deeper buckets as we drifted downriver.  We were hitting fish all morning, both browns and the most beautiful rainbows, all in the 14″-16″ range, with a few 18″-20″ fish as well.  When we stopped for lunch with Dud and Sue, we shared stories and what was working.  It was all wire worms and small midges doing the trick.  Red seemed to be the color of choice for these hungry trout.

At lunch, we’d dropped anchor in a “fishy” spot, so after we’d eaten, Barb fished in a one person hole and I took over picture responsibility.  Bam!  Fish on… and what was so funny, was that about 30 yards downstream, there was Solomon, jumping out of Dud’s boat, and heading upstream to be a part of Barb’s catch.  Dud came running upstream to bring Solomon back to his boat, but once back….. BAM!  Barb hooked another fish and Solomon was on the move.  We did this another 4 or 5 times before pulling up anchor to begin our afternoon of fishing.

We’d had an incredible morning and couldn’t imagine the afternoon getting better, but it did.  Instead of fishing from the boat, we found spots to get out and wade fish.  In each spot, we hooked into fish again and again.  Strong, beautiful trout ready to bend our rods and boy did they.

We fished about 5 different buckets after lunch and at each location, we caught so many fish.  When we left to fish the next spot, we full well knew there were even more fish that could have been hooked in the hole.   You never want to use the “E” word but this day was EPIC!

At the end of the day, we floated downriver, enjoying the incredible scenery around us, the snow on the mountains and even a moose taking a peek at the drift boat as we slowly passed.  We’re still talking about how great the trip was and how Steve was a great guide.

Ramble On

As we made our way from the San Juan River to Bozeman, we happened to be going through Moab UT, which is base camp for many outdoor adventures, including trips into Arches National Park.  We looked at our fishing calendar which suddenly had a couple of openings due to SNOW on the Green River in Flaming Gorge and decided to hole up in Moab for a few days.

The first day we arrived in Moab, we parked the SaraLinda at the SlickRock Campground on the north end of town, nearest to Arches.  Once we were settled, we headed up to venture into the park for our first sojourn.  It was late, the park was closing at 7pm due to road work in the park, so we raced (at 45mph, park speed limit) deep into the park to see a few of the sights.  We walked about a quarter mile to get a better look at Double Arch (see Pic 1) and realized that we really needed to go all the way up into it to gain a greater appreciation of its size.  We also did our three nods looking up at Balanced Rock which we were told is actually the size of three school buses.  What our first day excursion told us was that we’d be spending at least a full day in this beautiful park.

The next morning we were up early and headed into the park again.  After stopping at the Visitor Center, we ventured up the winding road, heading again to Double Arch.  There were far fewer people in the park at this hour so our hike to the arch was much more peaceful (aka…. all the young ones were still safely in bed as were the tweens).  We made it to the base of Double Arch where Barb shook her head as I was determined to climb up inside the arch to get a picture looking out over the landscape.  It took a bit of “scrambling” but I finally made it (see Pic 2).  After slowly sliding back down on my backside, Barb and I headed off for the next set of arches.

Across the way from Double Arch are two “Window” arches aptly named, North and South.  What is amazing is that as you hike the path to see North Window Arch, you are looking everywhere to see where South Window Arch is located.  Nothing!  When we arrived at the base of NWA, I was able to coax Barb up under the arch for a picture taken by another hiker.  We traded a lot of arch pics with people from all over the world.

As we left NWA and thought we were headed for Turret Arch (the arch in our featured cover pic…that’s me inside the arch), disappointed we didn’t find South Window Arch, low and behold, it simply appeared, behind a rock.  Perspective was everything in seeing SWA as I later learned.  We continued to Turret Arch which turned out to be a very easy hike.  Again, Barb took in the view from a distance while I climbed up into the arch.  When I turned around, a beautiful view of BOTH “Window” arches appeared (see Pic 3).

After these three hikes, we were beat and ready for lunch.  We headed to an area in the park known as Devils Garden.  We grabbed a quick lunch of our usual PB&J, a few chips and an apple.  It’s our “go to” lunch everywhere… fishing, hiking, traveling and just hanging out.  We never get tired of it.

Our next hike was to Landscape Arch (see Pic 4) which is the longest arch of its kind in the world.  This was a longer hike, a bit of up and down, but not too bad.  On the way back I couldn’t resist running up a hill of sand weirdly tucked into the canyon walls.  On the way back from seeing Landscape Arch, we took side trips to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arch.

We had a bit of energy left in our tanks, so, we hit a few more arches before heading to a local brewery.  As we sat down and shared a nice Moab Brewery scotch ale, we looked at Barb’s watch and determined we’d hiked about 6 miles during the day… so, of course, we splurged with nachos to go with our brew!

The next day, we headed to yet another national park in the area, Canyonlands, as well as to a state park that got rave reviews, Dead Horse Point State Park.  The prevailing story behind Dead Horse Point State Park is actually pretty sad.

After another day of hiking, we made our way back toward Moab, our basecamp.  However, one more hike was in store for us.  We hiked up the side of a cliff; yes, even Barb had to climb this one, overlooking Moab to see some Native American petroglyphs (see Pic 5).  Very cool.  And we just had to make one more trip into Arches to see Delicate Arch which is the arch used in most all of the literature about the park.

Our time in Moab was done and we headed on to Bozeman for some fishing, R&R and seeing friends.  We had an “epic” day fishing on the Madison, but that’s another story.

Ramble On