Saturday, May 18, 2013

Utah Letter

An excerpt from a letter to my good friend Pollarine in regards to Utah's magical canyon country and high desert...

Utah was spectacular from start to finish. True, we only had about 4 days in state, but Bek and I did the best we could. We loved Arches. I am glad I got the Fiery Furnace tour. I highly recommend it. Ranger Mike was pretty cool. 

The long hike through Devils Garden (including the primitive loop) was totally cool.

Finally, Delicate Arch was the best way to end the day. Loved it. Its magnitude struck me when I rounded the last bend on the trail. I love how it was hidden back there, and I felt nothing but awe. It caught the fading sunlight and framed the Salt Mountains in the background in such a way that I will never forget. 

Delicate Arch

We only really had one day in Canyonlands, but I loved it as well. We did a lot of hikes and scrambled around on the ledges quite a bit.  Seeing the granaries was pretty cool, and on our way out Bek and I checked out some dinosaur bones and pictographs on some trails near Moab. We also stopped and hiked to an awesome waterfall near Orem. And, on the way to the parks on the first day, we did a little walking tour of BYU. 

Canyonlands Overlook

We hit up the SLC capitol building at dusk before we flew home, and that was really great too. We also saw the Mormon temple. Yet, such feats of men pale in comparison to nature's art work (in my opinion).

Salt Lake City Capitol Bldg

Camping in the desert was also very enjoyable. The sun and dry air were comfortable, and I feel like we got very lucky with the weather.

Then, when we got back, we had a snow day. This winter hasn't really let up....the boys and I flew kites today, and it continued to snow.

Glad you enjoyed the jerky, it reminded me of Yellowstone, so I picked some up for you guys. I wish I'd had a chance to see you 'round the old campfire, but there will be opportunities on the horizon I am sure.  It really was a good time, and I am sure it felt like two different trips for Joe. I bet the first week was rather "tame" compared to week two....I'd like to hear the tale of "firewater" of which you speak whenever you have some time to recount it.

In summary, I am very glad we went to Utah. It was worth it. I'd still like to see Bryce, Zion, and Grand someday. But, Arches and Canyonlands were truly beautiful and intimate. March seemed like a great time to go, and the snow capped mountains in the background of most desert scenes was captivating.  I still think of the thrilling expanse of the canyons and the yipping coyotes at night. I also believe these places put "time" in perspective. Geez, we are nothing but a minor blip on the radar.  I feel like I now know quite a secret after seeing the beauty of the high desert country.

Alas, when we were in the confines of the Fiery Furnace, Ranger Mike asked his travelers to name their fav NPs. I found myself thinking of Yellowstone. Not just the trout fishing, but the wildlife, the campfires, and the adventure. 

With Bek at Canyonlands overlook...

Stories in Pictures

While on the subject of fishing with my boys, there are moments you hope to always remember, and visuals certainly help to conjure up the emotions of the day....


The joy of Opening Day.

Quinny is a study in determination...

With his prize...

Passing it on

Here's to hoping my boys will come to enjoy the outdoors as I do. We certainly spend a great deal of time outside engrossed in all sorts of activities. And, so far, both seem to have taken to fishing, or at least, in my older son Kale's case, water. You just can't keep him away from it.  Obviously, vigilance is key, but over the past two seasons, I've realized that stream fishing suits him well. He likes to move and discover, and he'll take the trout that come with it too.  Last year he stream hopped with me on a few occasions and scored six trout in total, some on the flyrod too.  He also has an uncanny ability to keep a trout hooked regardless of how he lands it...reeling it all the way to the eyelet or suspended feet in the air as it is whipped to shore, and once, tangled around my calves as I attempted to scoop it with a creel. We eventually corralled that acrobatic rainbow to possession.

On a sunny Friday afternoon in early May I picked him up from pre-school and asked him if he wanted to go fishing. His positive reply started us off well, and his excitement jumped a notch when he saw the gear piled in the back of the car.  And, so we were off to Standing Stone, my personal favorite stream and the place were Kale had caught his first ever trout a year prior.

We hiked up stream on that sun kissed afternoon and discovered it pretty much abandoned. Slipping down some steep grassy banks, we waded across a pebbly channel and set up just above a deep pool. A few casts later, a nice, fat rainbow zipped his line, and Kale had his first fish of the day.  Soon he landed his second one of similar size, and he declared them both suitable fry for dinner. By six we were in dry clothes again and snacking in the shade.  

Kale all geared up.

Rainbow prize.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Alas, I've never been a great shot. Yet, through consistent practice and repetition, I've been able to train my eye and improve.  The fruits of the labor often emerge when I least expect it. Such was the case on an early November evening last fall.  Swerving into the gravel game land lot, I hopped out of the car fully field dressed, leashed up Daisy, and grabbed my pump action. I spoke with one returning hunter about the possibility of getting into some birds, and fortunately, he shared some information about where he'd seen them.  In quick succession, beagle and man made a bee line for the upper fields in hopes of rousing a rooster.  Of note, it was already beyond daylight savings time, so two hours of light existed before dark. Two hours is nothing. Quite short for hunting.  Yet, it can sometimes force the issue and inspire the pursuer to be efficient as possible, to choose only a select few pieces of cover, and to hope for the best. Birds are moving in the evening, and a lovely crisp fall night sets a beautiful backdrop for the scene.

We got lucky. Within ten minutes Daisy had locked onto the scent of a bird, and it was already close. We crossed two hedgerows before the panicked rooster lifted its head from the high grass and revealed his presence. After a few hops he sneaked into the brush, but with Daisy so close, he cashed in and took flight. Being able to see him beforehand calmed my nerves, and as the gun boomed, the quarry spiraled downward barely clearing the treetops before rolling up. After a few comical minutes of trying to find him, he was discovered burrowed beneath a logjam.  With one bird accounted for, Daisy and I wasted little time in trouncing toward the backfields.  Daisy worked intently across a span of green, shin high winter wheat.  Soon, her tail began its birdy swag and we were off and running again. This time the bird ran deftly, and in the richness of the cover, I could not spot it. Only Daisy's maze-like path and excited yipping told me that the pheasant was about to bust.  Daisy turned and ran the bird almost to my feet before the hen exploded from the cover just behind my position. It was a quick shot, but the plume of feathers drifting over us was evidence of its accuracy.  The wiley hen proved to be a more noble target, and so, the second and final bird of the hunt proved to be even more rewarding. Forty-five minutes. We were done. It feels pretty good to eject the shells, stare down at just two expended ones, and feel the weight of two birds in the game bag.  Time to go girl. Good job.  Let's walk it out the long way and enjoy this golden November evening, for they are few and far between.