Day 72: 990 to 1009

When Garbelly woke up, everyone was packing up including Critter. For the first time on trail, she was the early riser. With the cold air outside our tent, we tried to do as much as we could from inside. However, cold meant no mosquitoes. Thor, Scrapbook, Charlie and Hannah headed up trail and we tagged along once we split a bagel and peanut butter, our first time packing out bagels so far. We followed a gradual climb up the Mt. Massive trail but decided to make miles we so passed by where the trail forked and headed up to the summit.

We steadily climbed all morning, running into a ton of Colorado Trail hikers and even Jeremy! For lunch, we joined Charlie and Hannah by a stream. Two large donkeys with two handlers came running down the trail followed by a man in a cowboy hat on a horse. Shocked we all sat there and watched them run by then head down the trail. It was not what we were expecting during our break.

After lunch, we finished a climb then headed through the Leadville Fish Hatchery, the oldest fish hatchery in the USA, and then down to a trailhead that led us into the Holy Cross Wilderness. The forest grew denser and more shaded from the sun. We climbed switchbacks up for a couple of miles to a saddle before descending back down to an alpine lake. Without a question, we grabbed the Tenkara rod tied on a small Parachute Adams, tied by our good friend Marty, and started to search for the best access to the water.

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The amber-colored but clear water was shielded by thick pines, but we were able to find a sharply angled rock just off the bank half under water. Standing on it was a balancing act but set us up perfectly to toss the line into the water. We watched as the fish were rising feeding on an evening hatch that popped off of the water. Garbelly had first cast and just as he saw a fish start to rise, he landed the Adams on top of the water and then BOOM! A Greenback Cutthroat hit the fly and Garbelly's setting of the hook put the fish perfectly on the rod. Stepping back while carefully balancing on the rock, he jumped to shore, handed the rod to Critter then ran down to land the fish. A perfect release, the cutthroat swam to freedom in the depths of the lake.

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Critter had the next cast so she stepped up onto the rock balancing on the balls of her feet and started to wait for the sight of a rising fish. Brook Trout started to move into the area around the rock. She roll-casted the line laying the leader and the fly on top of the water. A hungry Brookie started to make its move. The wind blew the lightweight rod slightly moving the fly but the Brookie chased after it eventually taking it, and Critter set the hook.

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We went back and forth taking turns sight fishing and with each turn we caught a fish. If it was not for the need to make a couple more miles, we would have stayed there all night. Reluctantly, we packed up the rod and started back up trail.

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We passed by another 10th Mountain Division Hut, this one called Uncle Buds Hut, and then worked our way into the woods to find a camp spot back on trail. Some of the only snow we encountered all day was right where we set up camp. It was an especially cold night so we enjoyed dinner from the warmth of our tents and then quickly went to bed. As we closed our eyes, both of us saw images of the fish hitting the fly. It is safe to say our dreams were pretty fishy that night. 

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Cheers! 

Garbelly and Critter