Sleepless nights, headaches, indigestion, thoughts of why in the hell am I doing this reverberating in my brain, and bitchiness – all signs that the school year has begun.  The last three weeks have passed in a whirlwind, and my plate gets heavier by the day.  Twelve hour days on campus make for a grumpy girl.  Dustin, when I am not biting his head off, is at work – 70 hours last week.  Tensions at our house are high – even if the date is only September 10. 

Forgoing the responsible thing, Dustin and I decided to escape to the backcountry to re-energize and focus over Labor Day weekend.  Focus came the way of hiking 25 miles in two days.  Reenergizing and focusing with 25 miles you say…yes, indeed.   Instead of a reward at the end of the rainbow, we like to think the hiking always pays off in the end in our own version of a pot of gold.  Littered along the trail are little gold pieces, urging us to keep putting one boot in front of the other.  It is for these reasons that the urge to get away is so strong in both of us. 

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Friday night we had to book it.  Due to school, we didn’t get on the trail until after 5:30, with 6 miles to hike before we reached our campground for the evening.  Walking up to our patch of dirt at 8:15, with headlights aglow, we let out a sigh of relief.  Dinner stayed in the bear canister, and heads hit the pillows within 30 minutes. I hoped to sleep like a rock; alas I did not, but it was still a good feeling to wake up in the backcountry, rather than at home with a horrible day looming.

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Saturday we had about 5 miles to hike to get to the next camping destination, and then another mile to our fishing destination.  Our long week played havoc on our legs – fatigue, she was a present.  Hobbling into camp, we had lunch and set up our “mobile home”.  Once settled, we headed to fish – finally, our pot of gold.

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Fishing was consistent – we had a blast.  Every fish that came to net looked healthy and put up a good fight.  The summer feeding season has treated these guys well.  We were glad we got to cash in on these final few days of summer.  High mountain lake season will be over before we know it. 

In fact, fall has definitely arrived in the high country.  Temperatures hovered right around 55º for highs, and the lowest (that I know) temperature reading in our tent was 30.1º.  We watched the temperature drop 10+ degrees while we made dinner Saturday night.  Shrubs wore autumn colors, tundra grasses were brown and crunchy and morning frost blanketed the ground cover.      

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Sunday morning we had the worst breakfast ever, Backpacker’s Pantry Granola with Blueberries.  Long story short, Dustin and I almost threw up – at least to the step of gagging.  Once we both gagged, we decided to pack out the contents because that crap wasn’t going into either of our bellies.  After loading up camp, we made the hike back up the mountain to hit up the lakes one more time. 

We started the morning stripping a streamer – hoping to get the big dogs of the lake.  Turns out joke was on us, we were catching the smaller guys!  The thing about stripping is, you can take your eyes off the water, and when I did, I was treated to a sight of two cow moose coming down to the lake for a quick morning drink.

IMG_7630It seemed like the perfect moment – standing in a mountain lake, all is quiet, the wildlife came out to play…a true wilderness experience.  This is when I decided to scan the ridge to see if we could spot any elk or sheep still lingering in the high country.  Unfortunately we did not see any of that, but the moon was still shining….

IMG_7636 Oh yes, in 40º temps this man felt it fitting to do his yoga, in his skin hugging speedo layer.  From my vantage point I could see every contour of this man’s nether region.  Ugh!  Wilderness experience…ruined.  Not only did this guy continue to do his yoga for about 20 minutes, he didn’t move to a more private location mind you, he watched us catch fish while he “stretched”.  After his yoga was complete, he took off, still in speedos, still in plain view, still 40º, and fished…holy balls of steel.  I was freezing my ass off, but speedo man, he could wet wade.  This took back to nature to a whole different level.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with this guy reconnecting with nature by doing yoga in his speedos.  However, he knew we were there – there are a million places he could have gone, and continued without an audience.  Not only was I peeved because I got a full view of ass and balls right after seeing moose, I figured this couple (she got up topless about 30  min later)probably stealth camped.  A few more people thinking the rules do not apply to them. 

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Anyhow, Dustin and I continued to catch fish throughout the day.  We made the executive decision to fish until 3PM, and then hike to the car.  It was a long haul, but homework had to be made a priority.  For the first time, Dustin and I made the responsible choice and forewent another day of playtime for homework and rest.  I sure would have liked a few more fish in the net, and another night under the chilly stars, but I am happy I got the bit of time in the backcountry I did.

A side note: I have no idea what direction the new information will take us regarding the taxonomic issues surrounding the Greenback CT.  I must say, whatever they are, Greenback, or not, these are absolutely gorgeous fish.  I hope the Front Range is able to introduce these back to their original native areas; however, I realize that not all native areas now provide adequate habitat for these finicky cutthroats.  The one thing I do know for certain, everyone needs to experience their unparalleled beauty.

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-Stephanie

Written by Stephanie Mullins

9 Comments

Cofisher

I cry foul! No pictures of the female half of Mr. Speedo! Wonderful post Stephanie and I'm glad you got to get away for a bit. No better way to re-charge.

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Mark

Great story. Could've gone without seeing speedo butt (I'm with Howard tho, about Ms Speedo) but great story. You guys have some spectacular country there, with some really neat types of cutties.

What is "stealth camping" and why is it against the rules?

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Jay

Quite an interesting adventure you had there. I really wish you had gotten a picture of Speedo dude fishing… at a safe and nether region blurring distance of course.
I'm not up to speed on the taxonomy you speak of, but regardless of what they are, your Cutties are beautiful there. Your photography is great by the way.

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Bigerrfish

Wow what a trip! fish, mountains,…. mountains, and blue hills.. yucky! I mean dang, I have nothing against anyone who loves to do thier thing in the outdoors but… there is a line and I think it was crosses right around the time the shutter closed on the camera..

Good post guys.

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e.m.b.

Walking has a way of de-stressing life…it must be the simplicity of it. I don't know. But I'm glad you and Dustin got out and walked (25 miles!!!) together…and those are some absolutely gorgeous cutts!

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Fontinalis Rising

Sounds like you did the right thing getting away. Great story, beautiful fish, sorry about the speedo, I'll go somewhere else next time ;).
Seriously- all that way in for that sideshow? I guess it will give you something to laugh about years from now.

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