The Weminuche Wilderness
by: Jonathan Hill 9/15/2012
Some people’s idea of vacation is a nice relaxing week at the beach, soaking in the sun and surf. Others may prefer a ski chalet, hitting the slopes during the day, then a little apres-ski before finishing the day in the hot tub. My idea of a vacation is nothing like this at all. In fact, most would think that I am crazy for doing what I like to do for a vacation. And this years was the most intense vacation I have had to date.
It started with Jason Kasonovich - a friend of 32 years - giving me a call and filling me in on his plans for a week-long hiking trip. I thought he was crazy, I thought I was crazy for even thinking about going, but in the end it sounded like one of those trips that you just have to take, at least once in your lifetime.
The plan was to hike The Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado’s largest wilderness, for eight days and cover approximately 60 miles. Joining Jason and I on this adventure would be Ryan Lockwood and Scott Schmitt. The four of us all grew up in Western New York, outside of Buffalo. So it would be a hiking/fly fishing adventure along with a reunion of sorts. The three of them were going in three days before I could get off of work, so we planned on a location, day and time where I would be joining them.
Packing for a week long hiking trip is a tedious task. You don’t want to bring too much weight because you are carrying everything on your back. On the flipside you don’t want to run out of food or get stuck with only wet clothes and not have a dry set to change into. After a few days of packing and unpacking and leaving things at home, I was as ready as I was going to be.
Day one for me started with a 5 mile, 2 ˝ hour hike to meet up with the guys. I met them at their camp at 9:30 in the morning and set up my tent and things and then rigged up the fly rod. There was a small stream near camp that led down to just a slightly larger stream that ran through the valley. At first sight it looked too small to hold any fish of any size, but I was soon proved wrong.
The streams were loaded with fish! Being able to gently set your fly down on the water was crucial – and although these fish were willing to take any fly you put in front of them, they spooked easily. Between the three of us, just about a hundred fish were landed and even more missed.
Day three, and some 17 miles later, we were hiking around a lake that we knew we wanted to fish. Since there is no camping around this particular lake, it took us about 45 minutes to find a site up the trail. After getting everything unpacked and tents setup, Ryan, Jason, and I headed back down to see what the lake had to offer. It did not disappoint! Whether tying on stimulators or ants or streamers, the rest of the afternoon fish were caught on everything. At one point I caught six cutthroats in a row, only to have my tippet break on the seventh. It was an unbelievable afternoon walking around and fishing the whole lake.
Day four we hiked all day with a two-hour break to fish another creek with the same success we had on the other days. Unfortunately that would be our last time fishing on this trip. We had planned on fishing two other creeks, but not knowing exactly what was in store, we were unable to fish at our planned stops.
When all was said and done, we hiked for six days and over 50 miles. We hiked over the Continental Divide three times – twice in one day – and totaled over 11,300 vertical feet. It was an unbelievable vacation with a group of guys that I have been friends with for a long time, and a vacation I’ll never forget.
Blog content © Jonathan Hill
TroutByFly, CO 9/15/2012 7:55:36 PM
My type of vacation brother! Glad you had a blast and some nice pics as well. You just gave me the itch to get out before the snow hits. I might try to get up to the Flattops before the snow hits, that is if I can convince my wife other wise. Haha Tightlines
Jonathan Hill (jfred17), CO 9/16/2012 7:09:07 PM
Thanks! I'm also trying to figure out how to get up one last time before the snow so if you figure out a way to convince your wife let me know cause it might work on mine, haha.
River_FlyFisher, CO 9/18/2012 5:29:33 PM
Thanks for bringing back some GREAT memories! Even better, thanks for posting the picture of THAT particular little lake (starts with an F). It fished very well for me many years ago, and I'm glad to hear that it still does. We made camp for a week just over the divide from there and struck out on daily 5-7 mile hikes for fishing. This is a trip that you'll never forget, and will want to repeat, trust me.
ePiC, CO 9/18/2012 6:28:08 PM
You know thats my kind of vacation/adventure right there... might not been able to keep up with you guys thou. Nice job!
Jonathan Hill (jfred17), CO 9/19/2012 7:51:51 AM
River - Yep, that's F lake. I will definitely get back up there because we missed hitting those other lakes in the area, and I really want to check them out! Glad to hear the fishing was good when you were there and still good now!
ePic - From the stuff we have hiked before, you would have made it no problem!
JKaboom, CO 9/20/2012 3:00:31 AM
Great adventure and pics thank you :)
Other recent blogs by Jonathan:View more...