Category Archives: Fly fishing

Hot Days, Cool Nights … Siesta Anyone?

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Mount Rainer in the sunshine

The past few weeks our days start early, until about noon, when the thermometer hits 100+ it’s time for me to hide out in the air conditioning until about 20:00 (that’s 8:00 pm for you non-military time folks). It’s so hot I’ve run out of adjectives … blazing hot, melting hot, boiling hot, sizzling, scorching, red hot … and if someone says, “well, it’s a dry heat at least” … as they search for a positive … I’m glad they’re positive. Sweetie hooches up in his gun shop while I spend time researching an elusive ancestor and reading … I now understand Spanish and Italian siestas and I embrace them!!

But, I’m positively breaking my live in the now philosophy and am looking forward to next week when we’ll hitch up the Mini Winnie (I’ve yet to find that perfect name for her) and head for the mountains and rivers of Eastern Idaho and Montana and wishful thinking … cooler temps? maybe?

You’d think with all these free afternoons hidden away that I’d have my traveling list written and have everything ready to go. Nope, notta even a little bit, well, except when I think about it in-between books. I suppose I’d better get out from under this siesta fogginess and make sure we don’t forget something … though one of my well-worn travel motto’s is “if we don’t have it we don’t need it”, or  if we really do need ‘it’ then “Improvise, Adapt, & Overcome” (Marines Thank you for letting me steal your unofficial motto).

It’s a celestial month, August 2017, and on the night of the 11th we’ll be in the mountains of Eastern Idaho and in the midst of the Perseid’s Meteor Shower  and although there’ll be a waning gibbous moon  I’m hoping to see more than a few “shooting stars” sitting in the darkness on that mountain side.

When we return from mystery rivers, dutch-oven dinners, concerts and the night of shooting stars, we’ll only have a few days to prep for before Solar Eclipse Party people  head our way.  Oh! I’ll need a list for that too … our 30+ people eclipse party seems small compared with the thousands upon thousands of solar eclipse seeking hordes that have rented every hotel, motel, cow pasture, campground and free open space between here and the west coast just to watch the stars come out in the middle of the day (or that’s what the solar experts are saying)! Our little “ranch” is dead-center of the solar eclipse path … That reminds me, I’d better practice my camera’s time-lapse settings (like the rest of the world is doing). I’m planning on this party to be as much fun as 4th of July last year … I hope no one is disappointed … sometimes it’s hard to beat a chart topper, but it’s definitely a bar to reach for.

Sunset in Packwood Washington

Last weekend we packed our fishing gear and headed to Washington state to fish some creeks and rivers near Mt Rainier … we weren’t disappointed. Sweetie’s daughter, new to the fly fishing addiction, caught the 2 largest trout while I not fishing at the time &  hiking in my flipflops slid right over damp moss, down slick rock and into the creek. Two lessons from that watery encounter … First, take your own advice and remember the lessons you taught the grandkids to “Don’t hike in your flipflops”, and Second, don’t put your phone in your jacket pocket when you skid into an icy cold mountain stream … can anyone say, “Hello new iphone 7”?

Hot days, cool nights and breezes through the pines … life is good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Bears are Out Tonight

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Bear River Campground Me & Jill, the Mini Winnie & the Tiny Trailer

Last week, heading southeast to Wyoming to fish with my friend Jill, I started wondering about place names … it started when I noticed the next exit to Rattlesnake Pass. We’ve had a lot of rattlesnake sightings and funerals this summer up at the ranch and we are in hyper-watch mode. I imagined  homesteaders trailing into the desert sagebrush frightening and frightened by enough rattlesnakes that the place became a landmark. You know, turn right across Rattlesnake Pass.

If names reflect the landmarks then what do I think as I pull into the Bear River Campground, which is next to the East Bear River Campground, both of which are right on the Bear River? I’m thinking that I didn’t bring bear spray only my new little Kel Tec 22 pistol with snake shot … then to enhance my awareness of place names there were the bear warnings everywhere in the campground. Do NOT leave any food outside, nor in tents, nor in tent trailers that could attract bears. Do landmark names really reflect the truth? As I set up the Mini Winnie I wondered if it was bear proof?

Forgetting landmark names  and thinking FISH, the first morning out we headed up the Mirror Lake highway past all the private property & no trespassing signs to park in an off highway spot (remember to pick up your parking passes at the Ranger Station). Down to the river through willows and brush and trees. Jill went downstream and I went up.

Day one was eventful … I was sucked into a quicksand/mud bog hole crossing a side water stream to reach a rocky island where I went from mid-calf water to over my knee in a blink … luckily I fell into the bank, desperately holding my fly rod in one hand and some wee grasses with the other,  hoping I didn’t fall all the way in and wash downstream. Slowly I  pulled myself out of the water with a mucky sucking fuoosh as the black goop let go of my foot. All that and I didn’t catch one fish … notta … zippo.

Fire Scar Meadow …

Day two started with a beautiful hike to the East Fork Bear River through an old fire scared meadow down to the river … I caught a few fish, evaded some extremely large bovines and fell in the river (again). Yes, you heard me right … I fell in the river.

Wet wading in t-shirt, shorts, and my trusty old Asolo trekkers with my wading staff floating at my feet I caught a flash of fish out of the corner of my eye. I turned too quickly, not watching my feet placement on the slippery stones nor my wading staff floating between my feet. I turned, the staff didn’t and I went down on my butt, water to my chest and my backpack acting like a balloon on my back. Not good. After I righted myself and found my footing again I stood dripping in the still cold, winter run-off water, holding my legs still so my shorts wouldn’t touch them.

Then, planner that I am I remembered the change of clothes in my pack, just in case, because, let’s face it … I tend to slip on rocks in a rushing river. However, opening my pack it was obvious that it wasn’t waterproof. Everything was wet or wet enough that it wouldn’t have made a difference if I changed or not.

I just started fishing again (further up stream from my debacle) hoping the sun would peep between thunder storm clouds which didn’t happen, but I got a double soaking when the heavy clouds opened up  as we hiked the miles back up to the parking lot.

Evening found us up at Lily Lake, named for the thousands of lily pads that clog about 1/3 of it  and it was a beautiful spot (to lose a lot of flies) … I’ve not fished lakes with a fly rod much. Score: Lily Lake Trees about 10, Fish 1 and Me? Zero.

Bear River off the Mirror Lake Highway, Wyoming

Our last day I headed back up river while Jill packed up her tiny trailer. After catching a few fish and enjoying a sunny morning I headed back to the truck … when I arrived Jill was waiting and watching the river. She worried I had fallen in and drowned myself … she was checking the river to see if I floated passed. Day Three … I did NOT fall in the river. I count that a plus.

If you’re looking for a quiet night and pleasant camping, and aren’t pulling a gargantuan sized trailer the Wyoming side of the Mirror Lake Highway is a nice, peaceful place to stay and it’s away from the heavily packed campgrounds on the west side of the mountains … I highly recommend giving it a try.

Though the fishing could have been better the camping was great, we didn’t get many thunder storms and there was plenty of firewood to be picked up from old slash piles. But, we didn’t press our luck and play no bears are out tonight … we just watched the fire burn to coals and listened to the river’s song.

Next trip, Sweetie and I are heading to Washington state to fish near Mt. Rainier with his daughter & son-in-law where I’m hoping to catch a few more fish and NOT fall in the river.

Until next time friends, tight lines and blue skies.

On the Cusp

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On the Cusp … has an adventurous sound to it, doesn’t it? It portends, it anticipates, it leans forward, a balancing act one day at a time. It feels like holding my breath before I tip off the edge of the ski run, point upward toward the peak at the end of the vertical trail, open a new book, or start a plan. Anything can happen.

Today’s footwear … in Cusp Mode

Breathing, in this moment, the fire is glowing in the stove, but the window is open and I can smell the rain of spring. Here, in Council, the ground is only beginning to shed its snow coat while in Boise the greenhouse is busy protecting the baby greenlings, the piles of last falls debris are anticipating a burning and the bird-caller-finder-feeder neighbor lady’s trees are full of veracious beaks on recon while our garden beds and fruit trees are coming out of hibernation.

A MUST Read!

Today I’m cusping like this…taking a few more days in front of the fire, reading books, and thinking I need to finish the quilt laying quietly under the sewing machine needle waiting for phase 2. I finally finished with the “Beast” … my yearly January puzzle that took me like 8 weeks to complete … I did a happy dance when that last stupid pink,pinky,whitish-pink, green, greenish, greenish-black, black flower patterned piece actually fit in place.

I am cusping and planning a hiking trip in Yosemite National Park in a couple of weeks. Sweetie was a wildland firefighter, at one time he was the first Superintendent of the Union Hotshots, out of La Grande Oregon. In a few weeks we’re headed south to Reno for a Hotshot Superintendent Reunion & National Hotshot Association meeting.  Sweetie, knowing that Yosemite is on my “want to see it myself list”, suggested we spend a few days in Yosemite before heading north again.  Bless his heart!

Anticipation

In cusp mode, I’m not ready for spring yet, I’m not so secretly praying for another monster snow fall on the ski hill before I hang up the Pearls for the season. Though I did buy those new Asolo trekking shoes  and this afternoon Sweetie and I are planning on cleaning, organizing, and replenishing our fly fishing packs …

Anticipation

On the Cusp … Yeah! an adventure all in itself!

 

 

 

New Trekkers, New Trails, New Adventures

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Current Relationship

The other night I looked down at my shoes … I love my shoes, Asolo Trekkers … they looked a bit sad. They’ve been down rivers, across mountains, through desert sand and on many streets U.S.A. & abroad. I wear them almost everyday hence the worn tread, dusty suede, and lining formed to my foot.

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Meeting someone for the first time

Online I went, since they are hard to find around Boise, or at least the style I love. Which of course, every 2 years when I need another pair, they’ve changed them up in some form or other and I have an inner hissy fit complaining about  messing with a good, nay great thing. After the hissy fit, I ordered ‘the new style’. When UPS dropped them at my door, I immediately ripped open the box, ordering online is a little like Christmas, don’t you think?  … and … what did I see? a ‘gore-tex’ lined tag. (I don’t know why I didn’t see that little addition in the description).

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First Love & Best Friends

When I first discovered this particular shoe I was looking for a great hiker, that wasn’t a boot, and weren’t tennis/trainer/running shoes and didn’t have some splash of neon.  I love that the laces go clear to the toes which gives a great fit and the moderate tread is excellent on the mountain, but not so heavy that I trip walking across the floor. No break in time … ever … and though I buy a new pair every couple of years, the old ones have yet to be turned out to pasture.

I did say I wear them almost every day? It’s a good thing too. One day on the spur of the moment I decided I’d do an overnighter on the river for an evening and a morning of flyfishing.  I tossed my gear, tent, and cooler of food into the Escape and headed out.  Pulling in just in time for the evening hatch I setup my fly rod, pulled on my waders, and DANG! I left my boots 1 1/2 hours away, in the garage, next to the recycle box. There was no way I was turning around and heading home.  So what did I do? I opened the laces of my trekkers as wide as possible, slid them over my wading socks, tied them up and stepped into the river.  Excellent traction and they dried out the next day with no damage at all.  From then on we were friends for life.

Buying new shoes gives me angst … Will I love them as I’ve loved each pair I’ve owned? Will the addition of the gore-tex end my love affair? These are serious questions … well, I won’t know until I take the leap every new shoe buyer must take.  Slide them on, tie them up and hit the road, or rather I’ll spin them around the house, down the street and around the corner. The trails here are snow covered and my ski boots are still my best friends.

Cheers to new trekkers, new trails, and new adventures!

 

Went Off-the-Grid for a While

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Tell me it isn’t so! No!  It’s not October already, is it? Although September gave me some warning that October was on its way I just didn’t listen and  used up the days and weeks so quickly, like a Popsicle  on the 4th of July. Today, October is showing its gray and cloudy side, not giving a rip that I have outdoor activities to finish before the snow flies … yuck, no snow references yet!  How about I have outdoor activities to finish before the frost kisses the pumpkins in the backyard.

Wandering Keri’s blog has been on hiatus the past 3 weeks … once we picked up the new Camp-in-a-Box we hit our favorite fly fishing rivers here in southwestern Idaho.  No cell coverage, no satellite radio, no news to lay its cold clammy fingers on my neck and make me wince … no, none of that.  Just peace and Sweetie and the cousins from PA.  Pretty near to  heaven!

Count this … 10 days and zero photos. Nadda, zip, ziltch, goose egg.  I took not a single digital keepsake.  And I loved it. I’m telling you that if y’all take a few days off the grid and re-tune your energy fields you’ll love it too!  It’s an amazing feeling … at least after withdrawals.  But, being somewhere and just experiencing it … not seeing it through an LED screen … is energizing.  I have not a single a picture of the deer on the bank,  having a snack, while I flipped and swished my fly line over the ripples and around the rocks. Not a picture of the flock of chucker that blew up like a storm cloud from the side of the road chuck-chucking as they took wing up the mountain. Nor a picture of the maiden voyage of the micro-minnie-winnie … with the new outdoor carpeted space. Nope, just memories.  Perfect.

Missing a couple of us ... Laurie, Kathy, Waundering Keri, Pam

Missing a couple of us Nicol cousins … (l-r) Laurie, Kathy, (Wandering) Keri, Pam

However, when we landed at Casa de Vergari for a few days there was sad news waiting … one of my aunts had passed; so I blasted to Utah to say farewell and hug some of my cousins.

Viaya Con Dios Aunt Jean Robinson

Viaya Con Dios Aunt Jean Robinson

Returning home, we prepped for a weekend in Cove, OR to celebrate the wedding of Sweetie’s god-daughter Nella Mae &  her Hatch (and Hatch’s little lady, Chloe Jane). What a great outpouring of love and joy for these these special people in our lives. The wedding, bluegrass band, bon-fire, cross-cut, food, more food, laughter and song … It takes a team to make the crosscut sing … Greg and Peter on the crosscut saw … remember, Pull don’t Push!

Don’tcha know that when it come right down to it … it isn’t the pictures, or the places, or the doings … it’s our people … those wondrous souls who populate our hearts with joy and love and memories that live deep within and don’t need a photo to prove it happened.

I love you all!

Life is Good and I am Blessed.

 

Confessions of a Girl from Utah

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I thought nothing, no matter how hard it tried could come close to the magnificent Wasatch Mountains jutting out of the high valley desert views from my window, nothing could capture my heart like red rock canyons or steal my breath like a grand slalom through the perfect down of an Alta power day. I thought nothing could enthrall my soul more completely than wandering through deserts, across streams, over prehistoric lakes and petrified forests. I was the quintessential Utah girl … my roots are there, my heart is there.

IMG_3621When I had to move north for a new job, move away from my beloved lake and mountains, I was bereft of spirit. It was a new adventure and I’m all for new adventures, but I was leaving my life. Leaving my world. I moved from foothills with majestic views  of Utah Lake and the towering purple mountain majesties into suburbia. My view is my neighbor’s rooftop. The mountains are only a dream and miles away. And … I resisted. I compared. I whined. I looked back and I pined.

I have a confession to make. It took me three years to find a hair dresser in Idaho, I would drive back ‘home’ to ‘my’ hair dresser in Utah. It took me 7 years before I would alpine ski in Idaho, seriously. It has taken more than 12 years and today I think I can admit, yes, it’s taken a while, but Idaho has grown on me. I’m still in suburbia, but escape to Sweetie’s home on the range only 20 minutes from the mountains. I still yearn each winter for the soft, downy powder of my first love, Alta, but there are good powder days at Brundage too. I miss the red rocks and always, always my family, but I have Sweetie up here and friends … Idaho has grown into a piece of my heart.

Jill, first morning on a river

Jill, first morning on a river

Last week instead of heading south for our annual camping, hiking, or fishing trip my friend Jill and I went north into Idaho’s panhandle. North through valleys so narrow I felt I could touch the mountains on either side of the road. I loved the tiny towns and villages tucked into the only flat spots along rivers and the farms and barns scattered like bird seed through the wheat fields surrounding the Camas Prairie, Nez Perce. I lost count of the number and names of the rivers and creeks we passed or stopped to wade through, tossing one of many, many different flies in search of the elusive native cut throat trout.

A long road there

A long road there

You’ll love this … and it’s not a fish story either … after setting up camp and relaxing after the 6 hour drive from Council, a fellow camper dropped over and offered us firewood. He and his grandson brought it over, helped to stack it and even cut some into kindling for us (maybe they felt sorry for us old ladies). The fire put a smile on our hearts. The next morning, I pulled my lovely little Sage fly rod from its case and the handle fell off, it just dropped into the dirt when I started to put on the reel. Well, I didn’t have any glue and I didn’t think white cloth bandage tape would help much.  I remembered the fellow who gave us wood said he tied flies to match the hatch.  I took my poor little rod over to their camp and of course he had some super glue. Sadly, the handle just wouldn’t stick.  As I thanked him and was heading back to use my secondary rod, my dad’s (but it’s short for these rivers),  he offered to let me borrow one of his rods for the week. I took him up on it and had great days fishing.

Earth Fairy

Earth Fairy

Caddis

Caddis

So how do you thank someone who lends their fly rod to a stranger and shares firewood too? Words just seemed too small. I thought of the small fairy I was working on and figured I could make two …  so I finished the small fairy and made a little fly fishing dude wire sculptures for his grandchildren.  I think they liked them.  On another note, when I checked my fly rod  I  found that the super glue finally cured and the handle was securely in place.

Idaho people are the best. There, I said it … Idaho is more than potatoes and long drives from here to there.

Utah, I hope you understand, my loving Idaho doesn’t change my love for  you.  I’m a UTE, through and through!

My Dad’s Fly Rod

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That's my dad's fly rod ... I helped build for his 47th birthday ... he would have been 85 this year.

That’s my dad’s fly rod … I helped build it for his 47th birthday … he would have been 85 this year.

I love summer. I am a lizard and the warmer it get the more I want to ‘do’ something! I’m in summer “pack it in” mode …that’s packing as many activities into the remaining weeks of summer as I can. so far, this month; Fish camp, zip-lining, harvesting and canning/drying, then it’ll be Fish Camp Phase 2 … (and a lot more in store for September).

Last week … my first ‘fish camp’.  I’ve been invited every summer for years, but I was always otherwise occupied … fire season you know. I would get a bit jealous hearing all the fish stories … Well, not this year!  Sweetie packed the truck with our trusty Kirkham Springbar Tent (which I’ve had for 36 years)  … of course, it’s had a new floor, and new screens, a few patches here and there and new poles, but it has survived monsoons at Yuba Lake UT, a tornado at Martin’s Cove WY; storms that shredded every other tent around.  Each time we open it up the canvas exudes memories. They are in the fabric and patches and sticky zippers. It’s been shelter from sun, rain, wind and snow. It has been staked in desert sands, beneath mountainous crags, in forested glens, and backyards. It has been Sweetie’s hooch the past 8 fire seasons. It is well-loved and I wouldn’t trade it for any other tent around. Can you tell I love this tent? Anyway, toss in the sleeping bags, camp box, cots, mats, fishing gear and a cooler (sounds like a lot of stuff, but it all fits snugly into the shell of the pickup) and off we headed to “Mystery” River.

"Mystery" River at sunset

“Mystery” River at sunset

We pulled into camp with enough light to setup and spend an hour or two around the campfire. The first night was coolish, the second night was so cold it froze water 1/2 inch thick in the dog bowl and I didn’t want to crawl out of bed to even let Mala outside.  The days were windy and warm and I loved every minute of it.

The river was narrow and tree lined.  I brought the fly rod that my first husband and I built for my dad for his 47th birthday. It was designed for skinny water.  I fished with it all week. My dad had engraved on the handle and steel rod case the date, from, & why … it made me smile when I saw his hand writing.

It wasn’t a killer catch a fish with every cast day, but we returned to camp to dutch oven dinners and later, shooting star sightings after the campfire burned low. The air held the soft whirs of nighthawks’ wings and the wash of the river against the brush and rocks set the background music of our evenings.

No, it wasn’t a killer catch a fish with every cast trip; I did get to spend time with my Sweetie, friends and new friends and I caught fish with my dad’s fly rod, and I remembered him and I smiled … a lot.