We just finished our first backcountry on the Rocky Mountain Expedition I, and it was a great success! The first day consisted of a 4.5 mile hike from the trailhead to our campsite named on an island in the stream at the beginning of a long glacially carve hanging valley. We stopped to fish about a mile in along a beautiful stretch of creek that was full of hungry brook trout. After a rigorous climb, we got to our campsite and set up, brought everyone up to the nearest lake, which was about a ten minute hike from camp. That night we witnessed an incredible mayfly hatch and caught tons of fish before devouring a much deserved chicken stir-fry dinner.
Our second day in the backcountry we went on a mission to fish five different lakes, strung out along the glacial valley we were in. The scenery just kept getting better with every lake we passed, and all of the lakes were loaded with Brook Trout except the the furthest, which has native Colorado River Cutthroat Trout. Each student was able to catch a Cutthroat at this lake where normally only a couple people are able to catch a fish. This got everybody very excited, because these fish are the most beautiful trout that you’ll ever see. The long hike back didn’t seem so bad because of how happy everybody was to get a fish there.
The third day in the backcountry was our biggest test, because we had to hike completely off trail for 2.5 miles and over a thousand feet of elevation in order to reach one of the most remote parts of RMNP. This place rarely sees any people let alone fly-fishermen, and there happens to be some Cutthroats in one of the lakes. The fishing was challenging and only two students were able to pull out fish. We threw every fly we could think of at them but the fish were just a little too picky that day. However, everybody was in good spirits because of the breathtaking views and the fact that we went sledding down the snow on our way down.
The next day was our hike out, which, lucky for us, was completely downhill. Once we got to the van we had a big lunch and finished it off with a scoop of ice cream. After that we set up camp on the shores of Lake Granby, and hit the showers and did laundry. Then we topped it off with a dinner consisting of beer-boiled bratwurst and sausages along with a delicious greek salad. Tomorrow we are going to fish the Colorado River that comes out of Shadow Mountain Reservoir. There is a variety of species in this section including Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout, Brook Trout, and Rainbows. The day after that we hike back into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Wish us luck!
Jack, Remi, and the guys