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As I mentioned a post or two ago, Dustin and I feel like we are on permanent vacation here in Colorado.  Every weekend we have a new adventure.  However, one draw back exists to this permanent vacation, we are alone on our adventures.  For the most part, Dustin and I have done well being by our lonesome in FoCo, but I didn’t realize how lonely I was until I had to say goodbye to my parents.  It wasn’t any easier this time than it was in December.  In fact, I’ve been quite melancholy since Wednesday.  I am definitely ready for more company.

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Making the trip from KC, my parents and my fur siblings,  Lulu and Beau, spent Memorial Day weekend with Dustin and I.   Unfortunately, the weather was less than kind and we spent more time in the car than I had in mind, but they got to see a lot of the area, and most importantly we got to spend quality time together.  An added bonus was all the wildlife that we happened upon, Big Horns, Elk (including a calf!), Beaver and even a Coyote.  The end of the visit came much too soon, but I am so glad they were able to make it to see us.  I already miss them so much.

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Not only am I still getting used to living life without my parents right down the street, I am also getting used to doing other things on my own, like tying knots and fishing solo.  I ventured out a few weeks ago for the first time on my own, only to be thwarted by still disinfecting waders.  Not willing to take the chance of spreading an exotic species, I drove non-stop through the canyon.  However, today presented another opportunity for a solo trip.  I had RMNP volunteer orientation today.  Since I was  in the area, I thought I would hit up a creek in the Park to try my luck.  Outfitted to my knees in Dustin’s vest, I took off up the trail.  In an effort to get away from all the visitors, I went off trail a bit, and was rewarded with a river all to my own. 

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Rigging up from dismantled rod to a dry dropper rig, I picked a “fishy spot” and let them fly.  On my second drift, I hooked into a beauty of a little brown, tempted by the pink San Juan.  He was right where I thought he’d be!  I was so proud of my water read and my drift.  As I was stripping him in, I shook with excitement.  I knew I had to get a picture, otherwise Dustin would never believe me – that in and of itself almost sent me and the camera into the water.  I’m always so paranoid about getting the fish drinking again, that I fail to take many pictures, or the ones I do take are awful.  This time, being totally alone, was perhaps the goofiest of them all.  All the critters around had a good laugh, I am sure.  Taking pictures solo is definitely something that I need work on; that skill is even more pitiful than my double-clinch knots! 

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After this little brownie, I headed up river and found another nice little section.  I drifted a few times, and my perfect drift scored a handsome little brookie.  This time I did not bother with the camera, and took a moment to really let this catch sink in.  That photo is stored where only I can retrieve it, and I kind of like it that way.  A photo of my very own, of a day where I embraced being all on my own. 

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Realizing it was after 3pm, I knew I had to get out of the backcountry and back to civilization.  Dustin had no idea where I was, and in fact no one else did either.  I played it smart, and didn’t wander too far off the trail, and headed out early.  Once back in cell phone range, I indeed saw Dustin was worried, and eased his mind with a quick text saying “I caught fish!”  My smile stayed plastered from RMNP all the way home.  My confidence is definitely one level higher!

Next order of business – carrying my own fly gear.

-Stephanie

Written by Stephanie Mullins

23 Comments

The River Damsel

Well, good for you! Nothing wrong with being a little independent… : ) I have flown solo so long…it's just habit now. But, you are lucky to have a partner that enjoys fishing beside you too. Enjoy both worlds!! And yes, that lumbar pack is definitely next!

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Jay

I used to carry all the gear, but Kelly has her own fanny pack now. Carrying your own gear is definitely a move toward independence. Nice post.

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Josh

Wow thats just awesome! not that your miss you family (that sucks)… But that you went out alone and did your thing.. I cant say enough about how much I have learned while walking solo with wet boots…
Im real glad you got out and got hooked up..
P.s. I heard possession is 9, 10ths of the stream laws, when that stuff is in your hand it is yours! all vests packs nets and rods included.

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Casey

I think I have mentioned before my jealousies about your surroundings…Solo trips are definately my favorites, and I also know what you mean by taking pics of fish when you're by yourself. Too much trouble most times, so don't feel you need pics to be more "credible" in the blogiverse. Take care!

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Clif

Solo pictures represent the toughest challenge of going it alone. Pushing the button is easy, but truly capturing the moment is a struggle.

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Cofisher

My favorite post Stephanie and stunning photos. I think you would agree that you have to really be there to appreciate the beauty, but the photos do a great job capturing it.

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e.m.b.

You're right, I'm sure any critters, big-foots, or solitary birders laugh at my silliness when trying to get pictures of fish! This was a very enjoyable post. I too miss my parents….a lot. Glad you got to spend some time with yours over Memorial Day…I got to with mine too!

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Midge Man

Stepahnie… Truth is you're not fly fishing until you realize that fishing partners are awesome, but solo trips give you a whole different type of energy! There's times where, when it's just you and the river that the whole world just gets a little clearer…. Congrats and remember to buy your vest one size too large so it fits over a jacket.

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Fontinalis Rising

I've fished solo a lot of years and only in the last two have I regularly started fishing with others. I regularly have to get out on my own still. Since I've started blogging I've had this compulsion to record everything, but every now and then it is nice to have one fish, one trip, or one day that is all my own. Thanks for sharing.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@RD – Dustin and I find ourselves much more spread out these days. It is a real pain to go find him when I want to change, get snagged on a rock, or have to yell at him to come take a photo. I've definitely advanced to carrying my own stuff.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Jay – What does Kelly carry? I've looked at the Waterdance by Fish Pond, but it is a little big I think. However, I don't like the smaller chest packs. I think those would get in the way.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Josh – I was nervous for the first little bit, and then settled into a rhythm and was laying down casts right where I wanted, and getting that perfect drag free drift. It was tough fishing because of the high water. I had to search for fishable spots – I only wish I could have been out longer.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Casey – Dustin always gets at least halfway decent shots when he goes out solo. I don't have my mojo down enough to get the fish in, unhooked and photographed yet. That will come with practice. Our surroundings are definitely something to envy. I know I will never grow tired of exploring them.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Clif – Not dunking the camera or myself was a struggle as well. Trying to take a photo was such a clumsy experience. I need practice. You are right about the moment, as many pics as I snapped, not one captured what I wanted.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Howard – This time of year in the park is magical. The water is deafening and it really makes you focus and appreciate its power. I could have sat on a rock all day and just watched it flow.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@EMB – From where did your parents visit? I'm glad you got to spend the holiday weekend with them as well. It's been weird for me not celebrating the normal holidays with them.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@MM – It was very different not having Dustin there. I felt more confident in everything I did, and it also seemed I was more "tuned in" – if that makes sense.

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e.m.b.

Stephanie – also from the midwest, Lincoln, Nebraska. It's definitely strange living a good deal of a distance away. Especially, like you said, on holidays. I'll never forget the first Thanksgiving and Christmas I spent alone….not bad, just very strange!

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Stephanie and Dustin

@FR – Dustin and I are pretty solitary fisherpeople. We normally just like to fish with one another. In August, I am going to step out of my comfort zone and fish with others. I am sure it will provide a whole different experience as well!

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Fly Waters Edge - Kevin

I was reading your bio, I fish Bennett Spring alot in the C&R season, (Less of a crowd). Ever fish the river outside of the park? There are some excellent opertunities on the Niangua! I'll be following! Nice post, good story..independence does has it's rewards!

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Sanders

Stephanie- Great post! Having family in a different state is always hard…Bridget and I have been away from our families for a long time now…and like you, we really appreciate the visits and really hate to see the departures.

Glad you had the chance to fish solo! Looks like a pretty fun day of exploring…great photos…and good job not losing the camera to the depths 🙂

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Fly Waters – I never did fish outside of the park. I spent many a time on the Niangua, but not fishing. I think those times perhaps soured me on fishing the river. Dustin and I like doing the C&R season too. The least busy day we spent down there, however, was on Father's Day. We thought it would be busy, but quite the contrary.

@Sanders – Out of state family stinks. I want them to move here, but home is home, and they will never leave Kansas City. Too bad about Eleven Mile, but we'll all four get together soon.

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