After an extremely productive week in the real world, I had an itch to disappear for a couple of nights. The idea was to go up to a campsite along Highway 67 for Friday and Saturday night. The actuality was that I spent that Friday night cutting loose a little bit after a very strict schedule. From Sunday night through Friday morning, it was in bed by 9:30 PM and up at 4:45 AM, everyday. Luckily as I write this on Monday night, I’m on pace for another one of those structured weeks that a guy like me needs in order to get things done.
I woke up Saturday with the sole intent on dragging a buddy or two into my early-season camping excursion. It wasn’t much of a trip, only one night, but it was worth every minute. I got shot down by each of them to drop everything and head up to the high country. I arrived at Platte River Campground not knowing if I truly had all of my camping gear. For car camping trips off of the mountain highways, I tend to bring my backpacking gear as well as a few additional nice to haves since I wouldn’t be hiking longer than a hundred feet to my site.
There was a lot of campsites occupied, no doubt due to the unseasonably warm weather in Colorado this past weekend. I was able to set up rather effortlessly and the eight-dollars worth of steaks I picked up went on the open fire as soon as I arrived. Next up was the three-man backpacking tent that I got last summer for a trip that needed a lot less man-age to it- It works great for car camping for me now.
These early trips by myself are great in that they make you really appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, and more importantly to me, Colorado. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve slipped away, up Highway 24, for a night or two of camping by myself. The developed sites off the road are good in early spring when your outdoor nerves have been numbed by months spent indoors during the winter. There’s at least a few other campsites typically setup and it doesn’t have the creepy essence of going solo early on in the season- At least for me. By late summer, back-country by yourself is amazing- True solitude and a primal sense to it.
After a night of writing, listening to music and sitting by the fire; I awoke to frost covering just about everything. A chilly reminder that it is, in face, still March. After failed attempts (three of them) to get up and moving, I managed to get packed up in forty-five minutes. When I’m up there in the mountains, there’s always a definite… I went fly fishing. Instead of hitting the South Platte at Deckers, or even Cheeseman Canyon; I headed all the way back to the area I had come the day prior. I went to Elevenmile Canyon, my weekend home of sorts. I knew that a great camping trip, and the first of the year, should be accompanied with guaranteed bruised lips. The Canyon did not disappoint. I managed one small brown within four casts in an area few go early in the year. After that, it was up to the top to sight fish and get after bigger trout that I could see with vivid clarity. The one thing I’ve come to love about the top of Elevenmile Canyon is that you do not have to fish without actually seeing a fish. There’s a predatory feeling while walking the shallows in search of your target. It took me all of ten minutes to find a hole that I could see the flashes of red and white in the water surfacing. A few more casts in and it was on. A large twenty-inch-plus fish got fooled. I played him a bit, taking a pleasure only a fly-fisherman could love, in the bend of the rod. With a little theatrics to my motions while playing with this little engine that could, I landed him.
Wouldn’t you guess it… I left my camera in the car. Shameful, I know better. The rest of the time, I was just as productive, but no fish caught my fancy like that one had landed. It’s funny how after years of fishing; it’s the certain fish, the certain circumstances to which we remember.