I saw some incredibly big Mule Deer today. First I saw one when I was out on a ride. He was alone and eating in someone's front yard. I was in a pretty remote area and really wanted to get closer but you never know out here. Some people get pretty worked up over strangers. It was the biggest buck I've ever seen. He was standing next to a Mitsubishi car and honestly dwarfed it. I stayed there for about 20 minutes in awe but he never moved and just kept staring at me. We were running errands and took a scenic route home to try to see some wildlife and came across these guys. There were 5 bucks. This one was with 3 others. He still had some velvet on his rack but one of them had been fighting a lot and looked rough.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
A while ago I was going to send this thing off to St. Louis for my friend Tim to unload for me but shipping was ridiculous and I never sent it to him. I can't even remember how much I was hoping to get for it but it's never much with a used bike which is another reason why it never left. Anyone have something they wanna trade for it? I'm looking for something funky (Pugsley, Long Haul Trucker, Cross bike, etc. but I might consider another mountain bike depending on what it is. This is built up with full Dura Ace (Ultegra shifters), Mavic wheels (Cosmos I think). I need to keep the saddle (these are getting harder to find) but I might let the DA pedals go with it depending.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
I'm really starting to enjoy the singlespeed but I do hate 26" wheels so I can't wait to get the Salsa built up. Today I headed out of town for a few miles on the highway before turning off on a side road that leads towards Pikes Peak and some really nice trails. This is probably a thousand feet higher than town so there was no shortage of snow.
About 300 yards after jumping on the trail I came across these really big tracks. I'm 99.9% sure these are from a big kitty. They were probably from late last night as they were a bit hard to read. Mountain Lion tracks can be hard to distinguish between dog tracks and smaller domestic cats. You will not see the toe nails in a cat track and the singular pad on a big cat will actually have 3 lobes on the back of it. That's also hard to tell here. The bigger giveaway is the overall size of the track and the fact that bigger cats have what's known as a leading toe. You can see how the second pad from the left leads the rest. This is a right front track. I kept my eyes peeled but didn't see anything. I would love to see one of these cats. These tracks followed the trail for a good quarter to half mile all the way down to the service road probably looking for elk or mule deer or just curious about whoever had already snowshoed in.
This is bike is very quickly becoming my favorite to ride (even with platform pedals).
After my ride, I went down to the Apple store in Colorado Springs. I've been waiting for the new iPhone 4s for 3 weeks or so. I got the last one from today's delivery. It's way smarter than me. Technology is amazing. I just asked it to play me Shine on You Crazy Diamond and it did. Friggin' amazing.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
We've all been watching the weather updates all day at work and taking wagers on whether or not we'll have the first snow day of the year tomorrow. The weather moved in just a few hours ago and the temps are dropping. Things are supposed to get interesting in a few more hours and go through the next 36 hours. Above 7000' is supposed to get hammered (we're right at 8500'). Right now they're calling for 4 to 20 inches. I gotta get a Pugsley. I'm also gonna have to get an inner tube for some sledding.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I've been riding the Marin quite a bit lately. It's been years since I've ridden a 26" rigid bike and the singlespeed is fairly new. Riding platform pedals with tennies is completely new. I kinda thought that maybe the SS was faster so I wanted to really ride it tonight. I went up to Rampart Reservoir to do the 13 mile loop. On the carbon bike I can do that loop in an hour 20 pretty relaxed but I've done an hour 10 but I can't remember how much I hurt. I couldn't have gone much harder tonight and I turned an our 9 flat. I'm really gonna give the SS a shot for 12 months and see what happens to my fitness. I'm still completely up in the air about what's going to happen this year in terms of riding. I was honestly ready to hang all the bikes up for a while 2 months ago. I still love riding my bike and I still like going fast. I just have so much doubt when it comes to riding nowadays and I think a good part of that is from doing just one thing for the last 4 years and then forgetting what it's like to be in a race.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Last night we went down to the Ancient Mariner in Manitou Springs to check out a show. It was kind of a free for all featuring The Broken Spoke (a local band and I actually work with one of the members), Tom Vandenavond, Mike Clark, and Willy Tea Taylor.
Here's a picture of Willy. I really like this guy but Heather said he was too much of a redneck. Why the hate?
I had been looking forward to this show for 2 weeks. About an hour before we were going to leave, I realized that I had eaten a sandwich made of 4 week old ham during my ride. I figured I'd go to the show and try not to think about what impending doom I may be soon going through. Plus...if I were to die, at least I'd see a cool show right before and have some cold beers. It worked. Instead I woke up at 4 this morning with horrible stomach pains. I think I'm gonna be ok though. They do it in Europe all the time right? Wonder if I could eat road kill and come through alright?
Friday, October 21, 2011
Today I got out for a road ride of sorts. It kind of reminded of the road rides that Eric Cutlip does except he's faster and is out for a lot longer and he probably drinks whiskey with his lunch. I used a 26 inch, rigid SS for this ride because, without giving up any real details, it's a lot like how I may set up the Salsa eventually. The Forest Service was in the middle of a prescribed burn and the smoke got a little closer than I wanted. I brought along my fly rod and managed to fool a few small rainbows in 11 Mile Canyon. It was a glorious day to be out doing two things that dig. Enjoy the pics.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
It's been an ugly week. Heather has been outta town for work and I've had conferences. I have Friday off work and am planning on doing something super fun during the day. I'm gonna try to combine the fly rod and a bike (maybe the SS). Friday night should be fun. We're gonna check out Willy Taylor down at a small place in Manitou Springs. He's in town from California.
Not much going on in these parts. I did get out for a small SS ride tonight in jeans and old skool vans. Saw some mule deer, a bear and a killer sunset on the divide before raising a glass and then pedaling to the grocery store for banana split ingredients for some of my students tomorrow. Tonight I've just been hanging out and listening to music and enjoying time with the pups. Hope you're all well.
Check out this video of Willy. THis was shot at his place in California. They just set up a real simple mic in front of him. Sounds amazing.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It's 5:30 p.m. I'm sitting here in my classroom alternating between water and coffee. Tonight is the first night of parent teacher conferences. As of today I have 18 students that I am responsible for. I know of 2 more that are on the way. I talk with my parents so much that they generally don't come to see me during conferences other than to say hi. So I end up figuring out ways to pass the time. I just finished watching all three of MC's Iditatour videos again. Over a thousand miles and darn near a month of pedaling a fat bike in temps ranging from a balmy zero degrees (his words not mine) to a cold minus 40. If you haven't seen the videos, do yourself a favor and check them out. They are truly inspiring. You may not wanna go out and pedal through the Tundra after watching them but you just might appreciate whatever it is that you do next a bit more. Here's the link in case you don't know where to find them.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I've been asking my boss to go out with me (fishing that is) for a year now but he always dodges me. Until today. He picked me up this morning and we headed to the river. He fishes a decent amount but I don't know that he ever really targets big fish exclusively but he did today. Right away I spotted 2 really nice Rainbows that were holding in a deeper pool and told him to punch in but he insisted I go first. He didn't have to ask me twice. Within 10 minutes I had hooked the big buck and the real work began. After about 5 minutes I got him in the net. We took a few photos and then I revived him and he was straight back to the hole he came out of.
My boss is capable of putting a fly into a pool but his accuracy needed a bit of work and he was getting frustrated with not being able to put a fly right in front of a specific trout's face and the wind wasn't helping. After about 45 minutes of me shouting out behind a bush when to set the hook and whether or not to adjust the cast at all, he finally got into a Bow that was pushing 20 inches. Unfortunately, she was really hot and got away but he was thrilled and it was cool to see.
Next I found a sweetheart of a Bow laid right up on the bank. I had seen this fish as soon as we got to this spot an hour before. She had something in her upper lip. It looked like a big streamer but it was hard to tell. I told my boss I wanted to catch her and see if I could help out. After a few casts, she took my fly and I got her in the net. As soon as I saw her I was furious. In her upper lip was a snagging hook that some jack ass had used because he/she didn't possess the necessary skills to fish ethically. Wish I would have seen the individual. I would have done some snagging of my own. I got it out and she revived ok. Hopefully she'll make it. She was really stressed during the process and left all these in my net. Now normally, it is considered very unethical to fish to trout that are spawning. I am still not sure what is/was going on with this particular fish. In some parts of the US, Rainbow trout will spawn from spring to very early fall but here in Colorado, they spawn in the spring. I need to ask a few guide friends what the hell was going on here. I felt bad once she dumped a load of eggs but it was worth it to get the snagging hook out of her.
This is the big ole girl that I did some surgery on. You can see her dorsal fin has seen better days. When a trout spawns it will make what's known as a redd. This is basically a bowl shaped indentation on the river bed where the eggs will eventually be laid before the buck comes in and makes his contribution. The hen will dig the area out by using her whole body. Sometimes the sides of the fish will be all torn up.
This is a rod that my boss just got from his Grandfather. He brought it along to show me. It was made a long time ago in Denver. He didn't fish with it and I don't even know that I would. It would look killer on a wall though with an older reel.
Thanks for checking in.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Apparently, today was amateur hour. I got to the river at 11 and realized I didn't have any tippet. Tippet is the very fine line that you tie to your flies. All I had was a leader that eventually got pretty fine but not nearly fine enough. I ended up using the end section off another leader to connect an additional fly to so I could still run a 2 fly rig. I figured it would work but I knew it wasn't gonna fool the older/bigger fish. Then while walking, I managed to snag my lead fly on the back of my shirt. This was a big problem b/c I couldn't just break the line and re-rig since i didn't have any tippet. I also couldn't get my backpack off with the fly snagged. It was quite the predicament. I eventually got it figured out and got moving again but I feared it was a bad sign.
The flows on this stretch of the South Platte have been almost 250 for about 10 days straight now. Yesterday they shut her down and brought things down to 70. It's amazing how even a difference of 100 cubic feet a second can completely transform the river.
This is a Snake River Cutthroat. I love these fish. This one took an egg pattern.
This was the second Rainbow of the day. This one took another egg pattern (you san see it in the corner of her mouth). The first one completely demolished a fly that I just tied a few weeks ago. There is nothing quite like seeing a trout go bat shit crazy on one of your own flies.
This was another Snake River Cutt that took a small worm pattern. Not a worm like a night crawler. There are some worms that are present during the spawn. They actually eat the eggs along the bottom of the river. This particular one was a #20 that had been tied with brass wire and also had a clear bead head on it.
I only got to fish for 2 hours today before I got an ugly wind knot. I was kneeling down in the grass solving the puzzle and had it but when I went to stand up I guess I was hooked on a twig cuz it broke off the lead fly and that was game over. I was very happy though. It was a gorgeous day on the river except for the knucklehead that was trying to muscle into the hole I was fishing. We had a short talk about ethics and he moved on. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
After a craptastic day at work I decided to go fishing to relieve some stress. There's not much better way to wind down then throwing big streamers to brown trout. I got to the river at about 4 and clocked in. I wasn't expecting things to be all that great as there was still a lot of sun in the sky and it wasn't ideal streamer conditions. I was actually beginning to think that I was gonna get skunked tonight. Then...BAMMMM!!! I actually heard and saw the hit before I ever felt it. This was a skinnier hen but she was still about 16 inches and gorgeous. She was pissed off to say the least.
This river is so special to me. Not too far up from this spot is where I asked my wife to marry me about this time of year.
Normally I like the self-portrait but this is special. I think it screams, "I'm too sexy for these waders". Heather said it looks like I'm either pooping my waders or that I'm special ed. I'm not too proud to keep it from you though. Say what you will. My skin is thick.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I've been watching a lot of trout movies here lately (Trout Bum Diaries, Drift, etc....thanks Rob). I'm starting to tie flies again. I'm making the trip out to the river during the week. Things are getting serious again. Heather has always liked it more when I fly fish versus when I ride. She says I'm never happier than after I've been on the river and she's right. The fall is a special time. I'd rather fish at night than during the day. Big shadows start to appear from the edges. I know it's serious when I come home from work and grab something to eat and then head to the river to cast in the dark. There are angry monsters hiding in those undercuts and they only come out at night when its safe. There's a reason why they're so big.
Monday, October 10, 2011
There were many this weekend. The list looks like this:
1. My Eddie Bauer down sweater practically went up in flames like some sort of cartoon when embers from the fire got on it. I woke up in the morning with about 10 holes in it and feathers were coming out of each one. That jacket is stupid lightweight compared to my North Face Nuptse one (which I've had for over 10 years now and sat around multiple fires in) but it is definitely NOT fire resistant.
2. Similar to the above. I bought a new pair of REI convertible pants for this trip and they are riddled with holes as well. Again...I've got 2 pairs of North Face pants that have sat around loads of fires, hiked multiple 14ers, ridden hundreds of miles in, and generally been abused and there are no holes in them. Dharma even once found a left over piece of hard candy in the pocket of one pair and chewed on them while trying to get to the treat. She mangled that area of the pant but no hole. Now that's a testimony.
3. One of my favorite pieces of gear is a pair of fleece mittens from Simms. I've had these for 8 years and they've seen tons of action while fishing and riding. I loved them because I could really quickly flip open the mitten portion to reveal half finger gloves on the fingers and the thumbs. I went to grab a log from the fire and relocate it. Said log was hotter than I thought and it burned through the right mitten portion. I let the explitives fly. Simms still makes a version of this glove but mine used velcro to keep the mitten half of them out of the way and now they use a flap. Looks like I'll be buying some new ones and cutting the flaps off and then sewing on some velcro. Also looks like I have some nice Simms half finger gloves now.
4. Perhaps most devastating of all is something that I just discovered I left up there next to my bivy spot. Dr. Slick is a company that makes fly fishing tools. Having a good pair of Forceps (or clamps) for fly fishing is critical. The flies are tiny and these allow you to quickly unhook the fish so you can get it back in the water and revived. Most guys have stainless forceps. Not me. Several years ago I found these tie dyed ones from the good Doctor. I got compliments on them all the time. They were the shit. They were buried under the snow. The irony with this one is that on my hike in, I knew I was catching up to Scott and the others. The tracks kept looking fresher and then I was finally seeing watery boot prints on rocks. Then...I found a set of forceps. Nothing fancy...just stainless ones. I knew no other jackasses would be heading up that high to fish during an early storm so I grabbed them. They were Scott's and I gave him a healthy rash of shit for dropping them. Now that I've put this out there...I expect him to chime in at any time.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Every year some friends of mine get together for a manpacking trip into the mountains. The requirements usually include a remote spot, plenty of fishing, a good hike, good times, usually some alcohol and always some laughs. We go somewhere different every year and usually it's inside RMNP. I was supposed to head up Thursday night but I ended up driving up on Friday and hiking in solo that afternoon. Some years we have incredible weather but last year it rained and was cold and this year we weren't sure what to expect. My camera was having issues due to the cold. I'm pretty sure it dipped into the 20's at night. Enjoy.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
This is the Blue River as it runs through the town of Breckenridge. It's pretty skinny water right now. It's more technical with all of the trees along the bank. To make matters more interesting, I decided to throw a streamer today because things were so overcast. A streamer is a larger fly that is fished sub-surface. They can imitate all kinds of stuff but today I was imitating small baitfish. I love fishing with streamers but I don't do it all that often. This river consists of much more pocket water. These are small holes, maybe the size of a car but not more than a foot or two deep.
I could have fished this river with a nymph (which is what we typically use out here) but I wanted to get into something bigger. Within half an hour, I had this really nice buck that demolished the fly as soon as it hit the water. When the male brown trout get older their jaw starts to take on this hooked shape and you can start to see that happening with this one. The other way to tell he was a male is by what was on his fin and all over my leg. He was happy to see me. Looks like a big ole stick of butter with spots on it. I know I say this all the time but these are one of my favorite fish. This is the best picture of him as it was raining pretty hard at the time.
This is a cool statue that was made in honor of the 10th Mountain Division camp that was nearby and all the mountain training the troops did in this area.
Hope your Saturday was fun. Thanks for checking in.
Heather and I made a commitment that, with her new job, we were going to really try to take advantage of our surroundings and do more fun stuff on the weekends. Too many times, we just end up staying in and say, "We'll do that next weekend" and that never happens. We were going to go over to Crested Butte today but I knew I wouldn't be able to drive past the Taylor River below the dam and not stop. So we headed over to Breckenridge.
How's your Aspen? The ones on the way up Wilkerson Pass were in full, golden effect.
We grabbed some food and a few beers downstairs at Eric's and then did some shopping. I stopped by to see the boys at Breckenridge Outfitters. The flows on the Blue River as it flows right through town were probably in the mid-30's but the water was perfectly gin clear.