Loch Vale. 5.4 miles round trip. Was it worth it? You bet it was! My wife and I met with Tom McInerney at the Safeway parking lot in Estes Park around 8:30 am. We loaded up our gear and headed to Glacier where we found a full parking lot, but we managed to “squeeze” in without a problem. Within minutes we were on the bus and headed to our destination where we were dropped off at the trailhead to begin our ascent. We stopped as needed to rest, take pictures, and a little hydration and soon we were standing at Alberta Falls. It was then that the question was asked “are we almost there?” and Tom replied, “we are about 1/3rd of the way.” I have to give credit to my wife, Cheryl, as she is a breast cancer survivor who has to be mindful of her heart and was concerned the hike may be a little much, but she soldiered on and, in the end, probably faired a lot better than I. After a couple of hours, we made it to Loch Vale and Tom was kind enough to provide us with lunch and ice-cold beer. We sat on the rock outcroppings overlooking the lake and enjoyed our lunch with the occasional chipmunk and mountain jays. The views were breathtaking and the weather could not have been more perfect. Tom surveyed the area and decided it might be best to try fishing the outlet on the other side of the lake as he had seen a few fish there, and it was less crowded than where we were sitting. Being new to fly fishing, my wife and I got a quick tutorial from Tom on attaching the leader and fly to the main line. Before long we were standing on the bank and tossing line into the water. There were greenback’s everywhere, but they were too tight lipped for a bite. Tom managed to attract the trophy you see below but that was about it, and that was ok. This trip was not about the fish. It was about the time spent with a fellow member from this site who took time away from his wife and sons to spend it with those who were lucky enough to have won the trip through the year end giveaway. Words are not enough to express our “thanks” to Tom who graciously gave of himself to make this a memorable experience for us. Had it not been for him my wife said she would have stopped at the Falls and headed back down the hill. Thank you for spending time with and teaching us to fly fish. We will both continue to practice and, with any luck, post some pictures when we’re good enough to catch something. We’ll also think of you every time we use the fly rod and remember you as the teacher. Maybe our paths will cross again sometime. If you see someone flipping that fly line around like Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It, stop and say hello. It may be Brad but, then again, it may be one of us. Thanks again for the opportunity of a lifetime!