16 hours

TrailLite Designs, modified.  Those tires have been good to us, too.

Sometimes you just have to get out.  To make it happen.  As I was driving home early this morning local NPR was telling me about a winter weather warning above 6500′ this evening.  We’re sure to have many sunny days to come, but the finitude which makes northern summers so sweetly urgent will be even more in evidence until the snow falls up high to stay.  You can never do all the trips on your list, no matter where you live and how little you work, but there is a big psychological benefit to trying hard to tic them off in a focused manner.

So I arranged for a home visit yesterday afternoon, far east in the valley, and packed my tiny pack that morning.  About 40 minutes after I stopped doing billable work I was on the trail, hiking in to an alpine lake that’s been on the list all summer.

How many trout live in those logs?

Arriving, I thought I’d work the various snags by the outlet for a while and move over to the other shore once things slowed down.  They never did.  I spent 2 hours fishing ~100 yards of shore, catching trout and trout after trout.  I had a few slow periods (multiple casts without a strike) and many consecutive casts each winning a fish to hand.  I figure a caught a fish just about every other cast.  Crudely average that over two hours of almost constant fishing (slowing only twice to deal with tippet snarls) and you have a lot of fish caught.  A lot.  Like as many as I caught last year, all year.  Almost.

I stopped because I got hungry, and because it just felt excessive.  The fish were still flying at 830pm.

Taken from the same spot as the above, turned about 90 degrees left.

I don’t do much lake fishing, as it conjures up images of undynamic casting in the same spot, waiting for a fish to cruise by.  This terrain was like working a dead-still shallow river; cast to a likely spot and see what happens.  Sometimes a fish would nose into sight and slurp the fly, rewarding patient hook-setting.  Less often, one rocketed up and cleared the surface.  Frequently I was able to spot a cruising fish and cast to sight, experimenting as the evening went on with the distance from which a fish would be interested (often pretty far).  Occasionally, two or three or even four fish raced in, competing for dinner.  A few times a six incher looked set to take, only to be chased off by a ten inch (for this lake) giant.

Fly fishing doesn’t get much more fun.

As an experiment I just brought the Evernew burner, and built a stand/heat reflector of rocks.

The only flaw in my plan was leaving my fleece in the truck, as it just didn’t fit into the SUL pack.  I woke up cold several times in the night, I’m sure purely because I only had a buff as headwear.  The resultant waking fatigue was hard to shake on the way home, and the hurried shower, rush into work by 10, and ridiculously crowded day made those 16 hours in the woods all the more odd, juxtaposed with my “normal” life.

It certainly did serve to reaffirm that I live in the right place.

Sunrise coffee.  Thanks Hendrik.

Gotta do more of these.  They require a bit of maneuvering, but not as much as I often pretend.


  1. “So what did you get up to last night?”

    “I slept in the mountains”

    “Oh. Why?”

    It’s a conversation I’ve had with work colleagues on several occasions. The juxtaposition of a night out like this and everyday life is lost on everyone but yourself. It almost feels like you’re walking around with a guilty secret.

  2. What, cut the fat so you can shiver all night? Sometimes you ultralight guys don’t make a very good case for your sport. Although that pack does look cool.

    I once did an overnight in Juneau with a Camelback Hawg. We camped above treeline at 4,000 feet. I had only a bivy sack and it rained all night. I was completely miserable. Since then I haven’t encountered weather nearly that bad during an overnight but I’m always too timid to leave the tent behind.

    1. It’s been exceedingly warm all month, so leaving the fleece behind was a matter of poor choices not driven by weight.

      Unless you can get good shelter under a tree, bivvying in the rain is no fun. A small tarp makes all the difference.

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