Completely oblivious to the sub freezing temperatures going on outside my tent, I woke up on the morning of my 30th birthday HOT!  Poking my head out to gauge the temp and weather conditions, I received a cold blast to my face.  WOW!  It was downright bone chilling up on this mountain.  Thanks to my Western Mountaineering bag and our hot air, we stayed quite toasty during the night.  However, it was morning and it was time to fish the Thomas Lakes.  Dustin and I dressed in our warmest clothes for our canoe finding expedition.  It took us a bit of exploring to find the canoe.  Unless someone tells you about the canoe’s whereabouts, I would guess it would be near impossible to find.  Paddles were not included with canoe, only large limbs.  I felt so primitive.

We got our fly poles all rigged and then set out in the canoe.  Since it had rained the night before the water was not as clear, but it was still gorgeous, and very very cold.  I missed two fish, and Dustin missed one.  It was quite difficult for him to fish, and keep us in position.  The wind was relentless, and of course wanted to push us away from where we were fishing.  Rumor had it the cutties were spawning on the banks, so we really tried to hit up those areas.  King Princes, Prince Nymphs, Supermans, 4th of Julys…they all failed us.  Dustin even tried a dry since we saw some fish rising, but to no avail.  We cruised to the other end to try our luck near where a creek enters the lake.  Matt was standing along the shoreline looking for Brooke.  Extremely bad luck found us at this particular fishing hole.  My rod, if not checked and tightened frequently, works itself loose.  It did just this (I wasn’t paying attention to it, I wanted to catch a cuttie) about the time I was thinking, man I haven’t tightened my pole all morning.  Gasping, I watched two sections of my pole jump into the lake.  Dustin paddles over, and I see just how hairy of a situation it is.  Wedged between two rocks sits my rod tip.  Keep in mind this water is very cold, I am wearing every piece of clothing I have with me, and we are not in waders…I consider for a moment jumping in to retrieve my rod.  Thankfully this was just a fleeting thought.  Pondering rather quickly, I realized I had no choice; I had to pull on it.  SNAP!  That was the end of my rod tip.  As anyone would be, I was pouty.  I could not believe my luck, I was 30 and had a broken fly rod.  Blasted!  Hoping to somewhat salvage the day, Dustin tried to encourage me to just keep fishing.  This did not work so well.  My line would just pool; there was no more laying it out.  I became grumpier.  Admitting defeat, we paddled back to the “boat ramp” and headed back to camp.

As we arrived back to camp, Matt informs us there was ice on our little lake.  Ice?!  Holy crap!  Wanting to see this for ourselves (I have never seen ice on the water on my bday before) Dustin and I head down to filter some water.  Sure enough, ice.  Wow, it really did get damn cold!  After filtering, we came back to camp for breakfast.  We decided to go ahead and hike down the mountain.  Dustin and I had enough food, but didn’t have emergency food.  In retrospect, we should have stayed on the mountain another night.  Sure, my pole was broke and we didn’t have emergency provisions, but I think we would have been okay.  Oh well, at least we had one night.

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IMG_1046 What a good hiker…taking care of her feet! 

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IMG_1057 Last moments at Thomas Lakes

Brooke and Matt took a head start down the mountain.  We weren’t sure how much the steep terrain would affect us on the way down the mountain.  Much to our delight, the hike down was a breeze.  Dustin stopped and found some downed branches for us to use as hiking poles.  I am not sure how much this helped me; I think it hurt my shoulder more than assisted my knees.  We still stopped for photo ops and opportunities to try to soak up as much as candy as we could. 

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IMG_1082 At the bottom

IMG_1084Now, we are both 30 and climbed a mountain!

Once down the mountain and loaded we had to tackle the task of figuring out where to lie our heads that evening.  We had one requirement, we had to be near Glenwood Springs since the next afternoon, Dustin and I were scheduled to go on our guided trip.  As was the reoccurring pain in the ass part of the trip, we drove back into the Carbondale/Glenwood Springs area.  After striking at out numerous locations, we ended up at an organized campground in Glenwood Springs near the Roaring Fork River.  All of us were hoping to do another primitive camp, but I think everyone was okay with being at a place with showers.  Fishing again, was on the agenda for Dustin and I, and it was closer than you might think.  A creek ran through the campsite; this particular creek is quite active with spawning rainbows early in the season.  Turns out, 4 nice trout ended up stranded in the creek from the spawning season.  Colorado really does have fish everywhere.

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After failing to land his fish in the tiny creek, we headed to a real river.  By this time, Dustin had fixed my rod tip (it wasn’t perfect, but would work).  The Roaring Fork was just a short walk away.  Again, raging water greeted us.  We were not deterred, and wet our lines.  We had better luck this night than the night on the Colorado.  A couple of brownies and a whitefish gulped my offering, and FINALLY Dustin scored a nice ‘bow with a top water Green Drake.  I could hear the slurp where I was standing.  Thank goodness he caught one, because he was starting to get pretty crabby about being showed up by me.  

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In typical fashion, Dustin and I fished until it was dark.  Getting us off the water when we are catching fish is impossible.  We headed back to camp and decided we needed to grub.  This is when the night got a little odd.  Glenwood Springs, as we know, is a ghost town for late dining options.  However, we happened to find a cute little place called “The Bear’s Loft.”  Of course, we were the only people in the restaurant.  Our waitress was quite friendly and quite frank.  After she steered us clear of several menu items, we finally decided on dinner.  I also informed her it was my birthday and I wanted a margarita.  Upon hearing this, she said your drinks are on the house.  We threw in that Brooke’s birthday was just a few days earlier, and Brooke got her drinks free as well.  Moreover, the waitress said shots were in order for us and for her!  She stepped away to concoct us our poison, and we giggled at our luck.  From this point forward, the owner waited on us.  I am not sure if she wanted to make sure that no more food was given away for free or what, but she was also very hospitable.  Everyone in the restaurant was almost overly hospitable if you can believe it.   The altitude must have some crazy affect on me and alcohol, because after 2 margos and a shot, I was hammered.  Upon leaving the owner joked that we would have hangovers in the AM.  We laughed and concurred with her; this is when the night became totally awkward.  She asked us if we would like some Chicken Noodle Soup to soothe those AM hangovers.  Sharing looks of shock, we said “sure”!  Out she came with a huge bowl of soup, still warm.  Not believing the chain of events (I cannot even describe all the oddities that took place at dinner) we loaded up our soup and went back to camp.  By this time, a full fit of the giggles had sunk in on me.  That night, I think I laughed myself to sleep.  All in all in was quite the 30th birthday.

Anticipating my next visit to “The Bear’s Loft”,

Stephanie 

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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