Colorado Rocky Mountain Expedition II Update

Greetings from sunny Colorado!  Its hard to believe that this only the fifth day of this trip… so much has happened it seems like at least several weeks have gone by! The trip started out with a great drive through and over the mountains to get to the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park. That evening we spent our time prepping for our stint chasing trout in the backcountry, and the guys were certainly excited.

Day two we spent the morning breaking camp, packing our bags, and getting last minute provisions for our trip. Unfortunately for us, the weather had other plans.  It started raining in the morning, then started thundering by late morning. As our hike for the day would take us up above tree-line, this was quite concerning. We hiked up our chosen route to just below the tree-line, and there we waited in the rain and dropping temps for a turn in the weather that never came. So we headed back down and decided to fish the Colorado River coming out of the park and hone our skills while the weather blew itself out.

We finally got into it on day three! We woke up to clear blue skies and hit the trail early. Well, what little trail there was, as soon as we got above tree-line, we ditched the trail and relied on dead reckoning to get us to our campsite in one of the most remote and secluded areas of RMNP. Our hike was incredible, we went from subalpine forest to up above tree-line, through riparian alpine meadows, and on right next to alpine lakes boiling with rising trout. We were even lucky enough to stumble across a heard of several hundred elk!  We got to camp, set up tents, and quickly set to fishing. The guys were ripping into them in no time!  I could hear excited yells from all over the lake as everyone was hooking up with beautiful greenback cutthroat trout (the state fish of Colorado, and a threatened species).  We quickly lost count of the number of fish landed, but my conservative estimate would be in the low 200s… it was absolutely incredible. We then finished off the night with a hearty backcountry thanksgiving, then fell asleep under the shooting stars of the Persieds meteor shower.

On our full day in the backcountry, we hiked up to one of the largest lakes in the park which is known to harbor some of the largest trout in the park.  The hike itself is wild!  We climbed over 1,000 vertical feet in a little over a mile to a hanging valley that holds the lake. The wind was whipping hard, but the guys did great.  They caught dozens of brightly colored greenbacks, who had just finished spawning, soo were still lit up in their spawning colors.  We fished the lake hard for the whole day, then headed back down to camp. We kicked it around camp, some of the guys fished a bit more, then we enjoyed a hearty meal of tortellini with red sauce before falling asleep under the shooting stars again.

Today we slept in a bit by backcountry standards, got up and downed as much food as possible (to gain energy, and lighten our packs), then got about the business of making it back to civilization. We retraced our steps (as best as possible) through the subalpine forests, riparian meadows, and alpine tundra, and back to the van. We then drove up the famous Trail Ridge Road to gain a view of the whole hike we had just completed which is a treat few hikers get to experience!  We then made for our campsite and glorious showers, not to mention laundry and clean clothes. Then capped off the night with a delicious salad and beer boiled brats! The next few days will see us head to lower elevations and bigger trout as we move base camp to the Colorado River to do our service project and float fish. Keep an eye on our instagram and facebook accounts for photos, and look out for our next update in a few days!  
Until then…

Tight Lines!

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

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Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204