Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wolf Creek Pass to Slumgullion Pass

Day 6 - I left Pagosa Springs, CO and continued (NW) on a memorable drive over two mountain passes beyond Wolf Creek and Creede, CO.  I drove by a few lakes and streams that I had to try and fish.  The most productive spot was beyond a tunnel and down in a canyon about 200 ft.  This nice water produced some Brook trout that were not large, but were elegant in color.  

Brook Trout seem to be spatially aggressive, atypical of normally spooky trout.  

I finally had some phone service and caught up with the family and Claire.  I stopped at a small info sign and read that my route, almost in its entirety, up through Glacier National Park and through the rockies, paralleled the Continental Divide.  Obviously, I knew this, but it clicked why I was hugging high altitude mountain passes and finding fishy, cold water.  I kept on Highway 149 through Creede and up to Slumgullion Peak.  The drive through the Rio Grande National Forest was incredible. 
A rainbow after a shower and a Montana type, big sky, sunset colored the sky.

Rio Grande at sunset. 
Since most of the river is privately owned (which seems ridiculous), I will make it a plan to return.  The rest of the evening took me over another mountain pass that was higher, surrounded by pines, and reminded me of Dun Raven Pass in West Yellowstone.  When I thought that I would begin to descend I just kept climbing; oncoming cars would drive past me every twenty minutes, which made me think that it was probably less safe to drive through the pass at night.  The road took me to the mountain's peak and then about 1/4 mile later I saw a campground.

I must have slept at about 11,000 ft and it certainly felt that high. I ate some leftovers for dinner in my car since there had to be plenty of game up there.  Life of Pi ended up being the perfect book to listen to while driving (given the nature of my trip) except that my fear for big cats and/or brown bears grew tremendously.  So I loaded the shotgun just in case (JIC) and wrapped up in my down blanket since it was freezing.  The brightness of the moon was actually hurtful to stare at and it woke me up a few times as the light poked threw the trees late night (I thought that trees didn't grow above 10,000 feet, but they were everywhere).  If I was more brave I would have gotten out of my car and photographed the amazing shadows that the moon and the trees formed.  


  1. While your small fish pales in comparison to mine :P , the colors are pretty cute. you should have stamped one!

  2. Ansel, that looks like an endangered Rio Grande cutthroat - which makes sense since you were fishing a fork of the R.G. :)
    "Life of Pi" is one of my favorite books, and I can understand being spooked after digesting that! Shotguns can provide powerful peace of mind...