It's shoulder season in the southern Colorado foothills and canyons. It's that time of year when you can run the air conditioner and the heater in your truck all on the same day. One weekend it can snow six inches and the next one you can go for a trail run in shorts. There are windows of opportunity to get out into the canyons in pursuit of browns and rainbows, and you have to grab those windows when you can.
Winter storms are in the forecast, but not quite here yet. Coming tomorrow. Navigating my truck down washed-out switchbacks and bedrock to the bottom of the canyon, and then back up the opposite wall to a hidden pullout. Getting out of the cab, I notice the so-called road was so rough it rattled my gas cap open.
A good friend meets me at the pullout, his own truck dusty and disheveled from the trek. We've fished together in the canyons, and beyond, even to Alaska. Conversations begin where they ended weeks or months ago.
We gear up and start the thousand-foot drop down the canyon wall to the creek. Old knees and worn backs welcome the weight of wading boots and backpacks. Our bones and muscles know this routine well, and we know this is the easy part...we will have to climb back out at the end of the day.
The water is low and gin clear. The browns and rainbows are holed up in the bend pools...spaces between cold rock and deep water. They aren't picky, and they know they have the same windows of opportunity to eat what they can before the winter ice closes off their world for six months. Hard takes on Killer Bugs, Beadhead Squirrel Nymphs, and RS2s. It's an exceedingly good day.
The sun sets early behind canyons walls, and the temperature plummets. We climb the thousand feet up and out of the canyons, chests heaving and brows sweating, sad to be leaving Once on top of the wall we sit in the dark drinking beer, discussing the day, the fish we caught. We feel fortunate to have had this window of opportunity!
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