If At First You Don’t Succeed

– Originally posted @ http://blog.deuterusa.com/blog-posts/dont-succeed



Distance hiked over two weekends: 15 miles

Elevation gained over two weekends: 5600 feet

Number of fish caught over two weekends: 0

Weekend three would add another eight miles and 2500 feet of elevation to that total, and luckily a few fish in the net.

Why, you might ask, is an intermediate hiker like myself hiking so often and so far? It’s because I have a backpacking trip planned in to the West Elk Wilderness, which is located in the southwest region of Colorado, so I am trying to get prepared for this 20 mile/5 day jaunt in to the unknown. So these three weekends in a row are my workouts.

On this third excursion I stepped up to the big pack and stuffed it full! I’m not sure how much it ended up weighing, but my Aircontact 65+10 was packed to the seams when I hoisted it on to my shoulders and headed up the trail.

This particular trailhead lead up to a lake that sat at 12,000 feet above sea level. The trail, marked as “difficult,” was a little over three miles one way. Joining me for this trip were Mike and Ryan – both of which are going with me on my trip in a couple of weeks. So all three of us were using this hike as training and it was well worth it.

Reaching the lake around 8:30 am, we were glad to see that only a small section of the inlet was still frozen. Camped along the edge of the lake, a couple of guys were just getting out of their tents so we stopped to have a little chat. They said they had no luck with catching the cutthroat trout that were supposed to be in the lake. That not being a deterrent, we headed for the far side and started to rig up.

I was the first to put the waders on and head into the lake. I waded out to chest deep water and started throwing a streamer to the edge of the shelf that ran the shore of the lake. Within just a couple of casts I had a fish on, and then off. A couple more casts and another fish was on, and then off. Maybe the lack of catching fish as of late was hurting my ability to actually keep a fish hooked.


Just as I was about to have my third fish on and get off, Mike yelled out “Yahtzee” and the first fish of the day was about to be netted. It was a beautiful 14” cutthroat and gave me and Ryan hope that we too would get in to some of the same caliber. Ryan was next up and landed a nice eight incher and then I finally got the skunk off and netted an eight inch cutthroat as well.

In total, we caught around ten fish in just a couple of hours with Mike getting a total of two that were

in the 14” range and Ryan and I getting the smaller ones. I didn’t mind that my fish was a small one, it was just nice to finally catch a fish after all of the hiking I had done the previous two weekends.

Around 11:30 the fish seemed to have turned off. We decided to pack it in early and head out and fish some beaver ponds we had seen on the way up. So with packs on and poles in hand, we hiked down the ¾ of a mile to the beaver ponds.

Bushwacking through the willows, we noticed several little streams leading into and out of severallittle beaver ponds. Right away Ryan was in to yet another cutthroat, albeit a lot smaller than what was at the lake. Then Mike landed a couple. These little guys were everywhere! We fished for another hour and a half and then called it a day.

We got back to the truck in about an hour and a half. It was great to put some miles behind us and to have also done so well fly fishing in the short amount of time we had. Of course the Deuter 65+10 fit perfectly and made the hike that much easier. That and the Futura are amazingly comfortable and I really can’t believe I was hiking the past eight years without the comfort that I now get to enjoy. Although hiking with 40 lbs. on your back for a few hours might not be a joy to some, I can’t wait to do it again!