Cliche as it may be, the mountains called. They always seem to be calling. Pitty I live on the edge of a pancake next to the sea.
And because they called, I put another dent in my bank account for the fifth time in a calendar year. In retrospect, not a penny was wasted.
My youngest would join me for a few days in RMNP the first week of October. Her teacher is spectacular and encouraged her to miss a couple days of school to explore and spend time with dad. Good teachers with a healthy perspective on life are a blessing.
We landed early, set up camp, and started walking the first afternoon. It quickly became obvious that this place is special.
That evening we cooked over the camp fire and did the usual camping things.
The weather was nice the first night. We slept well with the sounds of elk bugling in a nearby meadow throughout the night. We woke early in time to grab coffee and head to our reservation to ride horses.
Horses are perhaps my daughter's favorite things. Not her father's. But the first rule is that kids who spend time with dear old dad typically get their asses kissed.
She spent a large part of the next three days talking about that ride.
Around mid-day, the weather took a turn for the worse with heavy rain and wind.
We squeezed in a short hike during a break in the weather.
And the temps were dropping.
That night, storms would blow through every 30 minutes to an hour bringing winds that would have formal names in the south. Neither of us slept a wink as the tent shook through the night. We again woke early as we had an appointment with Mr. Huge (TM, copyright, pat. pending, et al) on the other side of the continental divide.
Before driving, I found a few bars of service and booked a room for the last two nights. Turned out to be a wise move given the amount of rain that would fall over the next two days.
The drive at elevation was a little stressful.
A few hours after our trip, the road was closed. Possibly for the winter.
My kids enjoy spending time with Ben for the simple fact that he is fun as shit. They point to the ski run they want to go down, and Ben is halfway down with them by the time their dad finishes overthinking the plan.
Sarah was completely content hanging out on our 4.5 hour float. As we floated, I threw streamers on a sink tip for the first time. I generally sucked at it as Ben continuously "suggested" I cast more downstream. A dozen hard strikes yielded no fish to the boat. I hooked and lost a brown that still jumps in my sleep.
We took a break on shore, and I finally hooked into a nice brown.
The next one took a hopper.
When the dust settled, we spent 7 hours driving for that 4.5 hours on the river. It was worth every mile. On the drive home she asked me if I was embarrassed that I couldn't catch a fish during the first half of the float. My response was "no", but her question clearly implied I should have been.
The last day we woke to heavy fog and a forecast of snow. We did our longest hikes this day to a beautiful lake at around 10,250 feet.
As we climbed in elevation, the scenery changed.
If I had to complain about one thing, it would be the crowds. The number of people using the park on a rainy/foggy/snowy day during the shoulder season was remarkable.
However, the views made everything ok.
Fished a little and caught a couple.
Back at the trailhead, we took a short bus ride to the most popular lake in the park.
The next morning we found ourselves back at the airport and a little depressed.
If I learned one thing, it is that I can lack the ability to cast a sink tip down stream and still be "pro staff".