The 2022 Colorado Rocky Mountain expedition just finished up a successful first trip into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park! The last time you all heard from us we had just set up our front country camp outside the national park and were doing some fly fishing instruction and preparing gear for the backcountry. The following morning we woke with the sun, packed up our camp, and drove to the trailhead, excited to start our first backcountry trip. We hit the trail early after a quick breakfast and put in a few quick miles to our first campsite. At the campsite, the group split in half. The first half stayed to set up camp and fish the surrounding meadow for brook trout while the other half pushed on a few more miles up a steep valley to get to the second campsite before fishing the nearby river. Both groups met up that evening to eat dinner and plan for the next day’s big off-trail mission.
The following day, both groups woke early and packed their day packs with fishing gear and lunch before meeting up. We had our sights set on a remote tributary of the main river that was rumored to have resident Colorado River Cutthroat trout. The creek was situated in a corner of the park that is completely devoid of trails and rarely sees human travel, so we knew the hiking would be tough, but the fishing would be great. Our group turned off the trail a mile or so from the campsite and began traversing through the most intense terrain we had seen yet. After a few hours of ducking branches and vaulting downed trees, we reached the lower section of the river. One group set up rods, and to everyone’s excitement, immediately started pulling out Cutthroat trout! Another group continued hiking up the drainage towards an upper meadow in search of larger fish. Both groups had tons of luck, and after several hours of fishing, hiked back to get some well earned dinner and rest.
The following day, both groups packed up camp and got ready to move a few miles up to get in range of a number of scenic high alpine lakes loaded with trout. The hiking was mostly uphill and pretty tough with heavy packs, but the kids persevered and made it to camp in time for some fishing before dinner. A few kids arrived extra early and brought in upwards of 50 fish that afternoon! After a filling dinner, the leaders looked over maps with the kids to prepare for the next day.
The next day our groups met up and began the strenuous final day hike up to the very top of the drainage in search of trophy cutthroat trout. Our target was an alpine lake with an elevation of over 11,000 feet, so our campers had some climbing to do. After a few hours of steady hiking up unimproved trail, the group finally reached the lake. The campers were greeted with the sight of jagged mountain peaks, massive snowfields, and most importantly, trophy cutthroat trout stacked in the outlet stream. The kids made quick work of the small water and every single camper caught a cutthroat that day with a few landing fish over 18 inches in size! The kids then fished their way down the drainage and got to sleep early to prepare for the hike out the next morning.
This morning we hiked out of the backcountry and had some celebratory ice cream, non-iodine-treated water, and showers. These next few days will find us relaxing, fishing, and preparing gear for our next backcountry outing. Everyone has been having an awesome time and we are all super excited for the upcoming second backcountry! The next time you hear from us we will have just exited our second backcountry and will be headed to our front-country fishing camp on the Colorado river!
Will, Jack, and Remi