Colorado – Day 5

After a welcome night in the burbs of Denver we headed back into the wilderness. I’m not exactly Alexander Supertramp.

We headed south and I mean a LONG way south. After about 4-5 hours of windshield time we made it to our first destination – Alma, CO. What is Alma you ask? Why, only a patch of the oldest living organism on the planet earth, the bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata). What a sight! They were amazing. There are two patches of bristlecones in this area, one on Windy Ridge (and that it was) and one on Mt. Silverheels. We visited the one on Windy Ridge. These were about 600 years old.

Then more windshield time. By early afternoon we had made it through what seemed like an endless dirt road to the banks of Treasure Creek. We found a nice high meadow alongside the stream to pitch camp. Our tents were located at 10,500′ in elevation. The road up from here was closed. We were geared up by 2:00pm and ready to fish when we met another angler coming upstream before we’d made our first cast. He was an older gentleman and he told us that he’d fished for 5 hours to that point and had not moved a single fish. Not a one. He told us that this stream used to be lights out! Talk about a downer. We hiked upstream about 1/8 mile and started fishing. We fished about 15 minutes and didn’t move any fish when, oh my, another storm came. This one looked pretty gnarly so we decided to divert and fish a real small tributary in a canyon (Delores Canyon).

I moved one small fish in this canyon, but otherwise the fishing was nil. It seemed like the storm had pretty much passed by 3:30 so we came back out and met the old man at his truck camper. We shot the breeze with him for a while and along came another pickup truck and angler. This guy had a strong Canadian accent and asked us how the fishing was on Treasure. After we informed him of our collective luck he told us of another nearby stream to try. Chris and I bailed and drove up to this 11,500′ stream at treeline.

It was initially obvious that we were fishing used water, likely the man who’d told us to fish here. The fish were intensely spooked. What fish weren’t already spooked were laying in tailouts making for extremely tough drifts. One bad drift and they would duck for cover. I drifted a #16 stimulator alongside an undercut bank and was in the process of pulling up for another cast when I had the fortunate ‘accidental hookset’. I landed a beautiful hog of a Rio Grande Cutthroat with the telltale large dark spots concentrated on its tail. Chris proceeded to land two fish after that, but both did not appear to be Rio Grande Cutts. One looked like a bastard and one was a great posterfish for a Snake River Cutt with its evenly dispersed small diameter spots. There were splash dams constructed along this high meadow stream. So I felt pretty good about completing the Colorado Cutt Slam, but with the strange phenotypes of cutts we saw in the stream I couldnt’ be 100% certain that mine was a pure Rio Grande.

Photo Gallery – Day 5 – Rio Grande Cutthroat (Onchoryncus clarki virginalis)

A Strew of Wonder, by Roberta Fiester

Way up in the mountains on a high timberline, there’s a twisted old tree called the Bristlecone Pine. The wind there is bitter; it cuts like a knife. It keeps that tree holding on for dear life.

But hold on it does, standing its ground. Standing as empires rise and fall down. When Jesus was gathering lambs to his fold, the tree was already a thousand years old.

Now the way I have lived there ain’t no way to tell, when I die if I’m going to heaven or hell. So when I’m laid to rest it would suit me just fine to sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine.

And as I would slowly return to this earth what little this body of mine might be worth would soon start to nourish the roots of that tree. And it would partake of the essence of me.

And who knows what’s found as the centuries turn. A small spark of me might continue to burn. As long as the sun does continue to shine down on the limbs of the Bristlecone Pine.

Now the way I have lived there ain’t no way to tell, when I die if I’m going to heaven or hell. When I’m laid to rest it would suit me just fine to sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine….
To sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine.

Way up in the mountains on a high timberline, there’s a twisted old tree called the Bristlecone Pine. The wind there is bitter; it cuts like a knife. And it keeps that tree holding on for dear life.

But hold on it does, standing its ground. Standing as empires rise and fall down. When Jesus was gathering lambs to his fold, the tree was already a thousand years old.

Now the way I have lived there ain’t no way to tell, when I die if I’m going to heaven or hell. So when I’m laid to rest it would suit me just fine to sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine.

To sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine.
To sleep at the feet of the Bristlecone Pine.

  Music and Lyrics by
Hugh Prestwood
© Hugh Prestwood Music

Bristlecone Pine
1:35
MP3 Format

From the
Music From The Mountains Album

 

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About wvangler

Bamboo rodmaker. Prognosticator. Fly Angling Purist S.O.B. Dabble in snowboarding/mountain biking/backpacking. Right Wing Environmentalist. Food Junkie. Hillbilly. Intellectual Geek.

Posted on September 2, 2008, in ifished, Quality DSLR Pics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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