Our second morning along the shores of Lake Granby brought further chill as temperatures once again dipped overnight. The mercury this time registering 36 F. Nonetheless, we rose early, warmed ourselves with oatmeal and tea and prepared for another day. Already feeling the effects of the prior day’s hike, this day would be a challenge.
We would be hiking and fishing Roaring Fork Arapaho Creek. Though the Creek, home to only native Colorado River Cutts, flowed into Lake Granby within feet of our campsite, the hike to fishable waters above entailed a nearly 1000 ft gain in elevation within the first mile of the trailhead. A somewhat daunting task, a conversation with the camp manager the evening before gave us (or at least me) momentary pause.
Upon learning we planned to hike and fish the trail, the manager (a man who looked the part of a life long forest service employee) remarked: “That trail? A man died on that trail two weeks ago. Heart Attack. Maybe 50. Some girls found him half-way up…”
Pausing to look us over before wandering off, “…Well, I guess you two are young and in-shape. You’ll probably be fine.”
My legs already feeling leaden from the prior day, it wasn’t long into the hike before I began to reflect on the camp manager’s words.
Not wanting to push myself to the point of exhaustion before reaching fishable waters, I decided to take my time navigating the terrain and urged Jake to push ahead on his own. There was no argument on his part, and he disappeared from sight within moments.
Perhaps a third of the way up the switchbacks, I paused at a point with a view of our camp site and was astonished to see just how far I’d already climbed.
Pushing on, I found myself staring at dirt as I focused on keeping my legs moving. Eventually the dirt, or rather Jake with too much time on his hands, began to speak to me.
As the trail eventually, and mercifully, leveled off, my name in stone with an arrow to the right directed me to where Jake had entered the stream.
Though Jake had a thirty-plus minute head start, his fish count was the same as mine when I finally located him.
Working our way upstream, it became apparent that the fish would not come as easy as they had the day before. Blind casting resulted in a total of zero strikes, and sight casting produced nothing more than a series of refusals.
In time though, Jake made his way onto the board as a well placed cast within inches of an undercut bank was too much for one of the resident cutthroat to ignore. Jake soon raised his count to two, and, following a series of missed hook sets, I finally joined him on the board with my lifer Colorado Cutthroat.
In time the wooded stream gave way to meadow, but our luck remained relatively unchanged.
While Jake added a third Cutt to his total, I remained fishless for the rest of the afternoon. By 4 PM, we conceded that the stream had bested us for the most part and began our descent. Happy to have at least avoided the dreaded skunk.
By the time we reached camp, our pedometers read 9.5 miles. Exhausted, we decided camp found wouldn’t suffice and headed into town for a cold beer.