In the days that followed, we lived like mountain men, enjoying our own little slice of the backcountry which we seemed to have all to ourselves. Our site overlooked meadows of willows that bordered meandering Pebble Creek. The flyfishing was fantastic. We fished downstream and upstream catching more cutthroat than one could imagine. Beautiful trout with crimson gill plates, sunset slashes, and golden bodies. Simply put, the fishing was the best I've ever experienced. For its size, Pebble Creek produced some unexpectedly large trout, each and every one feisty fighters ranging from 10-16 inches in size. Green hoppers, PMDs, and caddis were our flies of choice, and the uncomplicated nature of the fish made our options interchangeable.
One morning we trekked up nearby Bliss Pass and enjoyed the alpine views of the Absarokas and Beartooth mountain ranges. We had a snowball fight at 10,000 feet, checked out the whitebark pines the grizzlies would soon visit, and enjoyed a lunch of trail mix and jerky before scrambling back down to the creek for another afternoon of terrific fishing.
We encountered bear and moose. The first afternoon of fishing I had just released a foot long cutthroat and looked up to see a set of bear cubs on the far bank looking at me, one standing upright. There was no sow in sight, so I quickly unclipped the bearspray from its holster, my head on a swivel as I hiked back upstream to gather up the rest of the gang: Joe, Josh, and Shawn. Both cubs treed, and soon, the mama sauntered along. She was quite amiable really, for she napped under the tree wholly aware of our presence. Giving her a wide berth we continued fishing, and later in the evening, she and her cubs showed up in our meadow. It was quite a show watching the cinnamon cubs wrestle while the jet black sow settled into their bedding site for the evening.
The following evening we were visited by an immense cow moose and her calf. We were able to watch them devour willows from the comfort of our campsite for over two hours.
Each evening we gathered firewood from the downed wood of the forest and passed the time enjoying its warmth, pumping drinking water from the glacial cold creek, and creating meals from our freeze dried pouches and whatever else we packed. My personal favorite was Mountainhouse Chili-Mac with Fritos sprinkled atop.
The time passed all too quickly. We found ourselves hiking out and experiencing the only unpleasant weather of the entire trip. We made it nearly five miles before ducking into pines to allow a rolling thunderstorm to pass.
In reflection, this was the best backpack I've ever experienced. Everything came together on this trip, especially the fishing. Yellowstone's backcountry holds many secrets and surprises, and I was thankful to be a part of it if only for a few magical Rocky Mountain summer days.
|The wildflowers of the upper Pebble Creek plateau|
|The view from camp|
|A feisty Pebble Creek cutthroat|
|The beautiful colors of the cutthroat trout|
|Sunset over the mountains|
|Bliss Pass overlook|
|Pollarine points out the Beartooth Plateau to Joe|