Photos of the Day

This year marks 40 years that I have been able to walk around on the Earth, and I must say I am having a pretty decent time. I called in sick to work and Tom and Matt and I got into some HUGE trout on the Dream Stream.

The Perfect 40th Birthday Present

The Last Bushwhack

Originally posted at Deuter.

You can never be sure how much you’ll see of the fall season in Colorado. Sometimes it seems like it jumps straight from summer to winter without the crisp, colorful season some states get to enjoy. Not this year however. Fall this year has been perfect – minus a couple of snow flurry days. So, my friends Tom and Matt and I decided to take full advantage of the weather and make a trek into the high-country.

For a long day hike like this, my Deuter Futura Pro 42 holds everything I need to take. Stuffed full with my fly-fishing equipment, camera equipment, and my lunch, the pack still feels light when it’s on my back and I’m bushwhacking over trees and boulders.

When I met up with Tom and Matt, I had to laugh because I didn’t realize that they too had Deuter packs stuffed to the brim and ready for the hike. What we didn’t realize was how long and strenuous a hike it would turn out to be. Tom had been studying up on this particular section of water for a few years, gathering all the information he could on how to get down to the river and where on the river to fish. But, there wasn’t a ton of info on this area so we headed out with what little intel we had.

Getting to the river turned out to be the easy part – it was downhill the entire way and only took about an hour. Once at the river, we put our waders on and decided to head upstream. The section of river looked perfect but we didn’t see any signs of fish, so we kept on wading.

The first section was flat and open, and we soon came upon a canyon section. We had to take a detour straight uphill and around the steep section of water to get to more fishable water. Once up on the canyon wall we stopped to take in the scenery and decide what our next move would be. Upstream seemed to be even steeper and less fishable so we decided to head back the way we came and try to fish downstream.

We returned back to where we had started and then headed downstream in hopes of better luck. We immediately saw signs of trout! Matt and I quickly hooked into some small rainbows and it felt good to catch some fish.

But our joy soon melted away when we had to again hike straight up and around yet another canyon. Once that was accomplished we were back at some flat open water – but again, like earlier, no signs of fish. We knew it was going to take a bit longer to hike out than the hike in, and it was getting later in the afternoon, so we decided to call the adventure a success and head back.

It wasn’t the Shangri-La of trout water we were hoping for, but it was a perfect day for a bushwhack. Catching a few choice fish, seeing signs of mountain lions, bear and deer and enjoying the remoteness of the area, still made for a good fall day in Colorado.

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Photos of the Day

More from the BWCAW in Minnesota.

Into the North Country

A Canoe and a Camera

Originally posted at Mountainsmith.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota is a beautiful place. If you have not had the opportunity to visit I highly recommend going at least once. But I warn you, once you do, you will want to keep going back – at least my good friend Randy Wilson and I have found that to be true.

Packing all the essentials for a weeklong trip into the boundary waters is a challenging task. For this most recent trip – my fifth into the north country of Minnesota – I packed and repacked at least six times. Everything you will need to use for the trip has to fit inside a canoe. Not only that, you also have to take into consideration the portages and the water that inevitably makes its way into the canoe. One pack however was an easy choice – the Spectrum camera bag by Mountainsmith. Designed in Colorado by professional photographer Andy Mann, the Spectrum was the perfect camera pack for a week on the water.

Taking an expensive camera and a couple of lenses on a trip like this can be nerve wracking. Throwing things in and out of a canoe and of course the possibility of getting everything soaking wet, is always in the back of your mind. The Spectrum pack has just the right amount of padding and space and even its own rain jacket so you don’t have to worry when the weather turns wet on you. The pack held its own, as it was dropped and/or placed heavily into the wet canoe at least 50 times.

Another nice aspect of the pack is its size. I mentioned it is perfect for a camera and couple of lenses but it also held a handful of batteries, maps, knifes, lunch, a compass, a cutting board, bear spray and a few other things that most people would normally not put into it. Even with everything packed away, it felt light and sturdy on our backs, even while carrying a canoe.

After six days of portaging, paddling and fishing we headed back to the lodge and put up the canoe and put on the hiking boots. We had an afternoon to do a little hiking and fishing the scenic Brule River. Again, the Spectrum was in tow – packed this time with only the camera equipment and a water bottle. The afternoon was spent catching rainbow trout and snapping more great photos.

Lucky for us that Randy is a professional photographer and was able to capture some amazing images from our weeklong adventure.  You can view more of his work at www.rhwilsonphoto.com. You can also find more information about the Spectrum pack and all the other great products that Mountainsmith creates at www.mountainsmith.com.

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Our Playground – 2013 Vol. 3

Another video I put together from my trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. One of the most fun trips I have had the pleasure of taking!

—Featured on the Orvis blog: The Boundary Waters and the Brule

Outdoor Gaming in the Centennial State

sequoia entrance

Las Vegas and Atlantic City have made a mark as America’s undisputed gaming destinations. Sprawling and grandiose casino complexes in these two cities have, consequently, defined how poker, blackjack and other casino games should be played – splashing chips and winning green bills in style. But in other parts of America, new forms of gaming are taking shape, and card sharks are increasingly turning to an entirely different way of gaming – that is, playing it outdoors.

Playing casino games outdoors is a new concept being introduced in many parts of America, where one can trek, fish and camp while at the same time betting one’s stakes in a card game under towering sequoia trees or in a lake yachting cruise. This idea has become viral that even the biggest names in the casino business are beginning to bring their gaming tables outdoors. Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget Casino, for instance, has literally thought outside the box by opening an outdoor blackjack area in front of its famous bay area.

Outdoor gaming is especially appealing in Colorado, with its breathtaking landscape of mountains, forests, mesas, canyons and rivers providing a vivid backdrop for the Centennial State’s outdoor- and game-loving residents. Colorado’s wide array of natural parks such as the Rocky Mountains National Park, the Eleven Mile State Park, and the Spinney Mountain State Park offers not only mountains to climb or vast lakes to fish, but also picturesque spots to play blackjack, baccarat or any casino card game. It is played best every after a mountain trek, a biking trip or a fishing expedition, when one needs to rest and seeks to do something for amusement. Of course, one can’t bring heavy casino equipment such as roulette wheels or craps tables in a national park, the same way that Castle Jackpot’s water dragons can’t exist in Colorado waters.

It is hoped that playing outdoor casino card games will lure more people to visit the wilderness and gain a deeper appreciation of nature. It won’t be a surprise if outdoor- and casino-loving Coloradans will lead the initiative and convince more Americans to visit the countryside and commune with nature.

Electronics in the North Woods

Why would you bring electronics with you when you go camping or hiking or fishing? Aren’t you trying to escape the day-to-day barrage of electronic distractions? Especially if one is going to an extremely remote place like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota? My reason? An overwhelming urge to share – via photography and video – the amazing things I see on these trips.

For the Minnesota trip, my good friend Randy Wilson and I spent six days in the boundary waters and another day on the shores of Grand Marais, MN. That’s a long time to use a battery for a camera or phone or video camera, so I brought along my Goal Zero Guide 10 Solar Kit. It was my first time using these solar panels and I was a bit skeptical as to how many times I would be able to charge my electronics. I have to say, it did not disappoint.

All the equipment was easily charged up during the week thanks to the many charging options the Guide 10 has – two phones/mp3 players, two GoPro cameras, one point and shoot camera and one DSLR camera, none lost any battery time. And along with the solar panel charging option, there is also the battery pack. I charged that before taking my trip and on the second day I used it to charge up my phone and a GoPro battery and it still had juice left to charge Randy’s phone as well. At the same time I was using the battery pack, I had the panels out in the sun charging my other GoPro battery!

It seemed like I used the Guide 10 every other day, as listening to music at night and then taking photos and video during the day quickly drained batteries. But with the solar panels there was never a photo op missed or a video shot lost.

The panels weigh in at .8 lbs and the battery pack with batteries weighs a mere .4 lbs. For this trip I didn’t have to hike the kit anywhere, it stayed at base camp. But when I take my next backpacking excursion, the Goal Zero Guide 10 will definitely be coming along with me – so I can continue to capture and share these indescribable experiences. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I don’t want to miss even one!

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Photos of the Day

Had another great trip into Minnesota this year. I was lucky enough to catch my first northern pike on the fly rod and to also get into some BIG smallmouth bass. Head on over to the Orvis site and check it out.

Photos of the Day: Into the North Country

Our Playground – 2013 Vol. 2

My latest video from the South San Juan Wilderness trip. This was truly the most fun small stream fishing I have ever done! All on my 3 wt. Superfine, it could not have been more enjoyable.

Featured on the Friday Fly-Fishing Film Festival over at Orvis.

Wet Wading

Featured on the Orvis website.

I am pretty sure that the urge to walk in water is in my blood. Growing up in the country of Western New York with a creek running through my back yard might also have had something to do with that. During the summer we were always out in the woods and exploring the creek, with my mother making sure we were wearing our “creek shoes” so as to not ruin our newer shoes that were only for school. Some thirty years later, I’m still putting my creek shoes on and walking in the water. Only now I carry a stick with some line and a fly attached.

For this particular trip, my creek shoes were packed and headed with me to the South San Juan Wilderness in southwest Colorado. The SSJ encompasses over 150,000 acres with 180 miles of hiking trails. Not to mention the 32 lakes and the creeks and streams that come out of them and make their way through and down the multiple peaks and valleys. Deciding where to spend five days within the boundaries of the wilderness is a little challenging — your best bet might be to throw a dart at the map because no matter where you decide to explore you are sure to be amazed.

On this particular trip I enlisted the help of my friend Shawn and we decided to explore the South Fork of the Conejos. The plan was to hike up the valley while taking time out to explore the streams and the lakes in the area.

When all was said and done, we hiked over 40 miles and explored three different sections of the river, did some small creek fishing up the Cañon Rincon trail, and tried our best to catch cutthroat trout in four different high alpine lakes.

Unfortunately the lake fishing was slightly harder than we are used to, but the stream fishing made up for it, ten fold! Wet wading upstream through canyons and meadows and catching multiple types of trout at every stop made all the hiking and planning worth every step.

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