Colorado Weather

Looks like my friends are getting hammered out there with the latest snowstorm. Its a godsend to the ski industry and also the farmers and wildlife for the resulting runoff that will occur next spring. This will make the fishing good, sustain the streams and renew many of the lakes there.

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Hike with Dennis

Once again we get to tag along with Dennis as he leads a hike.

 

 

Wayne led us up the WET Tewksberry trail for 2  1/2 miles to the Chute where we had our lunch.  So many flowers and fungi  like never seen before at this time of year and all because of the bountiful  rainfall we have received!!

What a pleasure to enjoy the great outdoors  with a great bunch of folks to enjoy it with.  We welcomed a couple of new  folks, Connie and Tony from Kansas, they did very well for the first time out  with us, hope to see them again soon.....

Wayne is leading the group tomorrow to the top  of San Luis peak, the first 14'er of the year for the group.  We need to  leave South Fork at 5 AM to make the trek and hopefully avoid the rain and  lightning..............

We WILL hike to the top of Fox mtn on  Thursday, if we happen to trip over some mushrooms we will collect them....meet  at the VCPL at 9 AM, bring your lunch, water, raingear and a  friend....

Click on picture below to view gallery.

 

Trail Cameras

I wanted to post these two photos just to show you how clear the new game trail cameras are that I recently got from Tasco a subsidiary of Bushnell. I will post more on this soon and hopefully have pictures of animals passing by.

 

These were taken from some movement nearby, but I cannot see any animals in the photos.

Fishing a High Mountain Stream

My dad and I went up to a local stream today to fly fish. He is 82 years old and so we went to a good place that is easy for him and I to get down to the water. We didn't get to stay too long as the rains came and chased us back down the mountain but he did manage to catch a nice 12 inch brown and I had 7 browns all on dry flies. Today the elk hair caddis in a number 16 was the ticket altho I did get a few on a nymph dropper below the caddis.

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End of the Monsoons

We are fast approaching the end of the Monsoon season here in Southern Colorado and it seems this one has been a long one for me. I am not complaining too loudly as the area has been in the 4th year of a drought and this past year was the worst on record for over 100 years.

So it takes a lot of catching up to get back to normal. The rivers here feed the valley floor with life giving water and that water is used to raise a myriad of crops. Those same crops mean millions of dollars in income for the San Luis Valley which translates into jobs for everyone living both there and even some distance away.  

The San Luis Valley has been compared to a huge underground lake. The water sits in the sand that underlies the valley floor and that is where most of the irrigation gets its water. Conversely, the mountains typically feed this huge underground reservoir with the streams and rivers that run down across the valley floor.

With the last 4 years of drought, the valley has been short on water running down the rivers and so the underground lake has not recharged. So the water that was used for irrigation and other things is not being replaced. There is a huge effort underway to stop over using the water and find a balance between what is needed and what is available.

it would take a huge amount of rainfall and snowpack over several years to bring the underground aquifer back up to normal. Its so interesting that the very thing that is needed, high water in the rivers, then causes more problems for the people in the valley in other ways. Flooding, washing out of irrigation structures, siltation problems are just a few of the problems that come with more water in the rivers. The more man tries to manage nature, the more we seem to mess it up.  

The end of the rainy period is fast approaching and the high water in the rivers should start to recede. I believe that this will cause the river to clear some as there wont be the ash runoff from the fire areas in as much volume. This will allow the streams that are still running clear to add a more substantial proportion to the big river. Most of these streams are spring fed and so will help with the problem.  

It remains to be seen what affect the ash flow and mud in the rivers had on the fish population. Currently, the water is so dirty you cant see more than an inch into the water. This makes fishing impossible with flies and lures if you want to catch anything.  

The lakes remain SUPERB. I have never seen fishing this good. Get out there and enjoy the days as they clear and the rains subside. kk

Glorious summer morning on the Rio Grande

Glorious Mountain Adventure

Since the monsoon rains started in July, it has been an almost non stop rain event both night and day. Yesterday dawned bright and clear and we headed up toward Creede, Colorado with visiting family members. Arriving at Creede, the morning clouds hung low and imposing over the valley floor but specks of sunshine were showing through on the higher peaks and on the pillars of Hercules which tower over Creede..

Driving up Bachelor Loop past the cemetery, the sun broke out upon us and we began to see glimpses of wildlife scurrying along, happy for a day without rain. Arriving at the old town site of Bachelor City, we all got out and began a tour of that old site.

Many pieces of old glass and other relics of days long past were evident on the ground as the recent high rainfall had exposed them to view. My step brother and his family enjoyed seeing the old cabins still hanging on in the harsh mountain environment and those are a certain photo op for anyone visiting the area. The town was platted in January of 1892 and by March over 100 houses had been erected. There were dozens of saloons, four hotels a school and newspaper and a church inside the town proper at one time.

Today, not much is left of the town and care must be taken if you decide to leave the parking lot above the old town site that you don't step in a hole and get hurt.   There are various holes left over from the town both exploration holes for mining and claim verification and old outhouse holes that were the standard of the day. I have not found any that are open to any depth but sometimes they were bridged over below the surface with wood beams and those can rot and give way unexpectedly. DO NOT venture into any depression or hole that you are unsure of. Just be smart when afield and enjoy the views as you can see from the pictures, the views at Bachelor are outstanding.

This is one of my son's favorite places to visit and I think the ghosts of days long past still walk the old streets and meadows and there is something in the air that makes you feel their presence. I often sit across the meadow in the white aspens letting the sun filter down upon me, and wonder how the men and women of that day were able to live in such an inhospitable place. Families were raised and business went on even though the climate is brutal in nature.  

The town suffered with the Silver Panic of 1893 just like most silver mining camps did. Slowly the population dwindled and finally disappeared probably sometime in the 1940's. Water and sewer issues and the extreme cold and heavy snows finally pushed the last survivors of the town to Creede and beyond.  

If you like to peruse the old mining camps as I do, make sure Bachelor is on your list. The road up from town past the cemetery is in great condition and an easy drive for a car or truck. Get a map from the local merchants and find a new adventure around every corner in that area. This is a good day trip for about anyone and whether you can walk a long distance or not at all, its still very enjoyable. Start out early as the intermountain rainstorms usually bring about some lightning in Bachelor by early to late afternoon.  

(CLICK ON PICTURES BELOW FOR MORE PHOTOS) 

Rivers are Running High

Almost non-stop rain has swollen the rivers to their spring banks here and its a tad concerning to watch it rise each day. There is still plenty of room for more water so don't panic quite yet. However, it is up in the willows that line the banks and all the rock bars are covered with a foot or more of dark ash filled water. Both the South Fork and the Rio Grande are about at the same general stage as far as amount of rise in their surface levels. Both also are black with soot from the runoff coming out of the fire ravaged areas. I have several friends with houses on these rivers and I am watching them in case I have to help them in the event of higher water. I will follow with more photos tomorrow and this week so you can visualize what its like. Normal August flows are low and clear and the fishing is great long into the calm warm evenings. I am not sure when we will see the bottom of the streams again but am hoping with the normal fall patterns of rain, it will be sometime in late September or October. Once the rain quits, the feeder streams will clear better and hopefully the good clean clear water will offset any flows coming out of the burn zone. Still hundreds of places to fish I you are so inclined. Get your rod and some lunch and enjoy the bountiful earth.

Fishing Big Meadows Lake

WOW, is all I can say. My step mother's grandchildren showed up this week and wanted to go fishing. So, I rounded up enough fishing poles for three kids and Paula and I and we headed to Big Meadows. It was a rainy kind of day but we braved the intermittent showers and walked around the edge of the lake to a spot away from the crowds near the parking lot.

Walking past the people right by the boat ramp, I could see many stringers full of rainbow trout and I stopped and visited with some of them to inquire about what they were using.  

The standard power bait type configuration was working the best for them and so we had several poles baited with that and Paula used the bubble and fly she is famous for. One person tried various lures including a Needlefish from the bank.  Both the fly and bubble and the Needlefish yielded a few fish over about two hours. I believe for maximum impact the lure needs to be trolled to give it the proper action and also to be exposed to the greater number of fish. I saw a man and a woman in a small boat land 4 fish in a distance of not more than 200 yards trolling past us.  

We sat there for quite some time without much action but when it opened up, it was fast and furious especially on the rod with the power bait. Sometimes there were fish on 3 poles at once and getting them off the hook and on the stringer and back in the water was hilarious to watch.  

The kids had a blast as they had not fished ever before and so success was paramount to a good day for them. If you are taking a younger person fishing, find a honey hole where they are assured of catching fish so they have a positive experience the first time out. That helps them to enjoy it and maybe continue to want to go fishing.  

I can name dozens of people who were taken fishing either once or over and over as a child and either didn't get to fish or didn't catch anything and it soured them on the experience. While catching fish is not the only reason we go fishing, it does add to the time afield and makes us ready to go again.  

We cleaned the fish and each of the kids wanted to attempt that. With a lot of squealing and saying "yuk" and "gross" multiple times, they finally did get the heads off but the rest of the process just was too much for them, even in rubber gloves.  

But they are now wanting to go all the time and I think I created 3 more fishermen to support the future of our sport. Remember, license fees, taxes on equipment and user fees in campgrounds all help our Division of Wildlife fund programs that maintain and expand our parks, forests, waterways and wildlife populations.  

Don't delay your fishing trip if you want some tasty trout for the pan. Its great out there in all area lakes.

 

 

Kristen and Jarrod with our limits.

BEAR TIME

Its bear time in the Rockies. That time when the bears find out that running around town is the best way to find food. This can be anything from trash cans to dog food left out to hummingbird feeders to bird feeders.  

As the summer population of tourist climbs in the summer, they begin to put out food for the birds and deer and other wildlife so that they can enjoy watching them out the back window. The problem with this is the bears and coyotes and other wild creatures, catch on quickly to the routine and come into the towns or around cabins in remote areas and look for free food.  

While I love seeing a bear in the wild, they can be quite dangerous if cornered especially with cubs or in the darkness as you return home from Bingo or some other activity. Also, they get so used to people being around that they begin to break into cabins to get more food. Many people leave screen doors open and this just is an open invitation to a bear to come in.  

The biggest problem with allowing bears to feed around a house is that it eventually ends up in their death. If a bear is found to be a violator 3 times, the Department of Wildlife has to kill that bear to prevent further damage. Once they learn to break into houses, there is no stopping them. So the very people who love to see a bear, end up causing their death.  

Living next to wild creatures, we have a responsibility to keep out of their way and also to prevent them becoming too accustom to man. Every week there is a story in the news about a coyote attacking a child in a city and this is due to animals being able to adapt to more and more population.  

There is no easier pickings for a good meal than a small dog or cat in a back yard. In fact, two of my friends lost small dogs to owls that swooped down and carried them off.  

This is the time of year when bears are trying to get as many calories as possible for the winter ahead. So they go to the easiest source. The recent fires here may have pushed more bears out of those areas and therefore there will be more depredation ahead.  

This week in Creede, Colorado, a small mining town nearby, a bear was spotted in a tree in town and had to be removed by the wildlife officers. They tranquilized the bear and yet still had to pull it down by hand and face a dangerous situation as the bear fought them aggressively. It was funny to hear people comment as they watched this activity. The sheriff provided backup with a shotgun and all the tourist and people who have no idea about the dangers of a wild bear were so worried he might shoot the bear. I do believe they would rather a officer get mauled or killed than have the bear shot.  

This is from years and years of watching pretty wildlife films that depict animals as having human traits and characteristics to the point that people think they are cute fluffy balls of fur. The animals found in the wild are not only wild and cunning but dangerous too. Proper care in how we live in and among them is essential to their survival also in a growing population of humans.  

Remember, keep you distance and know that they are only trying to protect themselves or their young but if provoked, can cause extreme damage to a person

 

We can enjoy nature close around us with proper care and a clear understanding of the dangers involved. This is a good time to see wildlife and an evening drive around neighborhoods often leads to that experience. Just stay in the car and be safe out there.

Moving problem bear from Creede Colorado to the forest.