Tuesday, August 12, 2014

 Wyoming's Wind River Range Golden Trout Epic Adventure Part 4.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday July, 29th, 30th and August 1st.


    Sometime around 2am the rain started; my new tent was about to be tested! I awoke several times through the night and would check all of the corners to make sure there were no leaks. I'm always paranoid about getting my gear wet, especially my camera. It was just a light sprinkle so the noise of the rain wasn't too bad, so going back to sleep wasn't difficult. Last year during our first trip to the Winds we encountered several storms but they were always short lived. This storm however was different, it rained for 27 hours straight. How the heck are we supposed to fish in the rain? We all stayed in out tents longer than usual but eventually we crawled out to eat breakfast. After our short breakfast the boys decided that fishing in the rain wasn't their bag and they decided to play some card games. My buddy and I decided to head down the basin to search for more Goldens. I left the camera back in the tent as I have had way too many close calls with it and with the constant relentless rain I wasn't going to take the risk.

    We slogged through many wet meadows and had to ford a few small streams on our trip down to the next four lakes. We stopped at the first lake below the one we are were camped at and threw some hardware at the fish. Nothing was caught as we fished slowly down the west side of the lake. Our visit to the next ended the same way--completely fishless. We had heard that there was a major fire on the Indian reservation so we were beginning to believe that the fires had done enough damage to the drainage to kill the fish. All the lakes we stopped by looked healthy and had plenty of insects to support fish. We continued fishing the western sides of the lakes and eventually made it to the last lake we wanted to check out.

    We skipped right by the third lake and headed for the inlet of the next. We were shocked to find a major mayfly hatch and no feeding fish. We were just stupefied at how dead this basin was and glad that what ever killed these lakes never made it passed False summit pass to the basin we just visited yesterday. We had lunch and threw every think we had at the lake just to make sure, but no fish here either! We headed back towards camp and slowly followed our soggy foot prints. The rain never let up, just a constant never-ending drizzle soaking us through our rain gear to the bone. I don't believe my feet have ever been that wet before!

    We made it back to camp around 4pm and began the arduous process of drying our boots next to the fire and started discussing our options for getting out. We new that we were not going to return to Dreams end or any of the lakes below so we decided to get up early the next morning and make our way back over the divide. We studied the maps once again and decided on our plan of attack. We had an early dinner and all of us retreated to our tents, Coltin and I played cards until we could no longer see what we were doing. Once the darkness came I fell asleep and slept quite well until I was rudely awaken by natures call around 5am and thankfully it had decided to stop raining--what a relief!

    The skies were cloudy and still looked like they wanted to dump more water on us! We had a quick breakfast and busted camp. We repacked our backpacks and shouldered them once again to head up the large drainage on the way to back to Angles pass. The hike up wasn't bad but I was really beginning to feel the last 20 miles. My feet and back hurt quite a bit, I didn't want to do anymore boulder hopping, but I new we had a few hundred to cross just to reach the pass.

    At the top of the pass I took a few pictures to remember the gateway to Dreams end.

    A look forward.

     A look back.

     Angel pass panoramic!

     Angel Pass.

     My boy and I.

     At the summit and looking at Spider lake.

     During lunch we had a feeling we were being watched and we were! By a Marmot!

     I just had to take this one, It was hard to believe we crossed this rotten pass!

     One last panoramic.

    We hiked for a few more miles and found a great camp site not to far from the trail but close to this beautiful waterfall on Pole creek.

     A few other shots.

     A phoenix is born?

     Pole creek star field.

     The  next morning we headed along the river and fished along the way, the Brook trout were ferocious, so we began referring to them as Pole creek piranha! No matter what you threw at them, they would converge on it like a pack of piranha. My son even had his first 60 plus fish day and it was nice to actually see that much excitement at catching fish. It's been a while! We fished for a couple hours until our desire to get home encouraged us to start our 9 mile trip back to the truck. We forded the last river crossing and just charged our way through the ups and downs until we made it back to the truck. The last four miles after leaving Photographers point were brutal and I felt every grain of sand and pebble as I traversed the trail. We eventually made it back to the truck and headed straight for a local restaurant; finally eating something that wasn't dehydrated. The mileage of this trip was very intense and was very difficult on my body. We didn't catch the monsters we expected but it was nice to actually catch the Golden trout that we after and as I am writing this I can't get over the desire to return as soon as I can!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wyoming's Wind River Range Golden Trout Epic Adventure Part 3.

Monday July, 28th, 2014


    I awoke a little later than I usually do when sleeping in a tent, the sun was just coming up and I wandered around our camp and stared at the dead lake we were just up the hill from. What a beautiful morning! The view was spectacular as the sun started climbing and illuminating the surrounding hills.

    We had a quick breakfast and hit the trail on our way to a lake that has been and continues to haunt me! The trail seemed short on the map but as we ascended to the pass we would see what looked like the summit and just before you made reached it, we would see another one twenty yards or more farther away. There ended up being five total, so since the map and evidently the Forest service neglected to name the pass, we all agreed to refer to it as False summit pass.

    A look back.

    The unnamed lake at the top, hence forth referred to False summit lake.

    The same mountain flowers from near Angel pass except for the purple accents!

    False Summit lake as we were leaving.

    The Boulders never end!

    The next lake and basin after False summit.

    Below is the inlet to the next lake and this one appeared to be dead also. There was a stonefly hatch going on when we arrived! If you aren't familiar with fly fishing, the stonefly is a major source of food for trout and they were every where; not one fish rise was seen! It was absolutely surreal seeing all those bugs and no fish. I was beginning to sweat! We had already traveled over twenty miles and I spent three years poring over maps and reading everything I could regarding Golden trout.

    The first look at the lake we traveled twenty plus miles to fish!

    It was quite with very little activity; man was I bummed! Even the beautiful waterfall across the lake didn't interest me!

    We fished for about an hour and the clouds were starting to gather, we had already set a time to head back to camp to prevent having to negotiate the boulders in the dark. With no fish caught and time running out we decided to check out the lake above this one before we had to leave. At least we were seeing fish rise here so it seemed this lake held fish. We followed the steam up to the next lake and I captured a few awesome pictures along the way.

    We made it to the next lake and the fish were boiling, we took off our packs and began fishing. My buddy's son struck gold first at around 5:30 pm. I rushed over and wasn't able to take the picture because the fish made it back into the water before I was able to get there. This happened to us last year at Pole creek and that was the only one we caught. However, soon after my Buddy hooked a small Golden and I resigned myself to take at least one picture; even if it was tiny. Luckily for me, Coltin caught one so I rushed right over. Finally, I had a picture and my son was just as excited as I was! Three years in the making! Between last year and this one, we had traveled close to fifty miles chasing these fish!

    Coltin ended up catching three Glodens and I finally had to try. After ten of so casts I struck gold myself! What a beautiful fish! I took a few shots and returned it back to the depths. I sat down and let it sink in! Wow, I have been dreaming of catching this fish for three years! So I started thinking of a name for this lake; since it's now my favorite lake. After rejecting almost everything that popped into my mine I finally thought of Dream's end! Perfect, the perfect name! I asked the others and they all agreed that it was a great name, I now have a name for my favorite lake. Strange that there are so many unnamed lakes in the Winds!

    I fished a little longer and at about 6pm we decided we better get moving! We were already supposed to be on our way back. We circled the lake and I grabbed a few more shots of Dream's end and the waterfall near where I was fishing.

    On the way out we ran into a group of guys, one was from Montana and the others were from Salt lake. They too were chasing Goldens and according to them they had been catching larger ones at the big lake just as I suspected. It appears that the Goldens act just as everyone claims, they are only active in the mornings and evenings. It seems we hit the big lake at the wrong time and Dreams end just at the right time. Oh well, guess I'll just have to come back! We stopped and had dinner in the same place we had lunch, right next to the dead lake with the stoneflies. After dinner we began ascending the other side of False summit and began descending the other side just before complete darkness. There was no moon or stars just the clouds and fading light. We just barely made it through the large boulder field before being forced to put on our head lamps to help navigate back to camp. It was just after ten when we arrived, it was a very tough eight mile trip to and from Dream's end. I was tired and couldn't wait to go to sleep!

    Stay tuned!


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wyoming's Wind River Range Golden Trout Epic Adventure Part 2.

Sunday July, 27th, 2014.


   I awoke early to shoot the waterfall that was near to our camp, we had seen it last year but never were able to visit. So, since I was the first one up and have been really enjoying shooting the other waterfalls I run across I decided to take some pictures. As I climbed out of my tent I noticed some frost on the rain fly.

    It must have dropped below freezing to frost everything like that, even the flowers around camp were frosted. I grabbed my camera bag and headed up the stream towards the waterfall and the closer I came the more beautiful it grew.

    A little closer.

   Top Falls.

    The sun was just barely beginning to rise when I made it back to camp and my trail mates were still asleep in the tents.

    So I shot some of the flowers around camp.

    Just a thin layer of frost!

    After making my rounds shooting flowers my son awoke and we started breakfast, we found some ice in our stove! It didn't feel that cold last night.

    After breakfast, we broke camp and carefully repacked our backpacks! We did use a couple meals last night but it didn't seem to change the weight. With a groan we shouldered our packs once again and began the arduous task of climbing the additional thousand foot to reach the top of the pass. We were camped at 10600 according to the map and the top of the pass is listed as 11600. We had to turn back last year due to a possible altitude sickness scare and at that time we were dreading the idea of the climb. This year however we were committed to tackle this monster. We just took it one step at a time!


    Along the way I found a couple other flowers.

    We reach the pass and we ran into some N.O.L.S. which stands for Nation Outdoor Leadership School. They had already been out there for twenty five days and were on their last leg of their course. Most of them were from California, however there was one from Connecticut and one from Wisconsin. My buddy shared some of his chocolate and one of them looked like she was going to cry she was so happy. I love to backpack but I am not sure I could spend twenty five days out in the wilderness. We had lunch and took some pictures on top and then looked hard at the map to plot our next move.

    Our group under Angel peak.   

    Us again with the Western side of the Continental divide behind us.

    The Eastern side of the Continental divide.

    Still some glaciers.

    Looks like there is still a little ice on some of the water too!

    It took quite a while to cross these boulders! We had to take a break!

    One of the many unnamed lakes on this side of the Winds.

    In order to make our way around the above pictured lake we had to negotiate some glaciers.


    A look back.

    Crossing the Tundra!

    Had to throw a few casts!

    I'll apologies in advance because I will be vague as to the lakes we will be visiting simply because the fish we are chasing are hard to find and very rare. I spent three years researching and obsessing over this fish and where to find them. Unfortunately the online fishing community can be vicious when they believe you are "hotspotting" and I would rather not deal with the drama. 

     The trip down to the next lake was quite the adventure in itself because there is no trail on the map or one that we could find. It was very difficult trek over huge boulders, thick willow and dense scree fields; well over five grueling miles. Normally I don't mind going down hill but in this case it was one of the least fun aspects of the trip. We made it to this lake just below an unnamed pass that we intended to tackle the next day and set camp. I was feeling a little nauseous and ended up napping for an hour hiding inside of my tent due to the never ending onslaught of relentless blood sucking mosquitos!

    What a beautiful lake! We fished damn near every square inch of this lake and as far as we can tell it's dead. This bothered us greatly because the fish we were chasing are supposed to be in this lake and made me a little nervous due to how much time we had spent getting here. We made our dinner and began the process of planning our trip the next day and feeling optimistic we will find Golden trout in the next lake.

     Inlet next to our camp.

    Stay tuned!