Home is where we are parked

Home is where we are parked
Home is where we are parked

Thursday, July 16, 2015

CO -- Kremmling and Wolford Mountain Reservoir, 24 Jun-1 Jul 2015

Map picture
Map picture

One week playing near Kremmling, Colorado…

Why we came…

To explore the Flat Tops and Eagles Nest Wildernesses…

The campground…

Wolford Mountain Reservoir and campground

Wolford Mountain Reservoir campground was decent.  The sites were spacious but a bit unlevel.  There were two sites in each row…not a configuration that we like.  Your neighbor drives within a foot or two of your front door each time they come or go.  The views of the reservoir, Wolford Mountain, and the surrounding mountains were unobstructed.  We only had electric, but there was a water fill station and tank dump station near the entrance.  There was no wi-fi, but we had an excellent cell phone signal.  The campground is well maintained by excellent camp hosts.

There’s not much to Kremmling, population 1,578 and elevation 7,313 feet.  It’s near the Colorado River in a broad, dry valley.  It’s centrally located between Granby to the east, Silverthorne and Frisco to the south, and Steamboat Springs to the north.  There are a few restaurants, two gas stations, a small grocery store, and just one stop light.  It’s a pretty quiet town…the way we like it!

Camped at Wolford Mountain Reservoir, about six miles north of Kremmling, Colorado

Adventures…

Kremmling-25 Jun 2015-hike   

Hike route to Little Causeway and Stillwater Lakes  /  Little Causeway Lake

On 25 June we explored a sliver of the Flat Tops Wilderness…

The Flat Tops Wilderness is spectacular!  Compared to most of the Rocky Mountains, it’s comprised of high, flat plateaus.  Flat Top Peak, at 12,354 feet, is the highest among lots of terrain that averages 10,500 feet to 11,500 feet.  There is over 160 miles of trails that lead to numerous beautiful alpine lakes loaded with trout.  And because it’s a wilderness area, there are no motor vehicles allowed…the way we like it! 

From our campground, it was a lengthy 90 minute, 55 mile drive over winding Gore Pass and through Yampa.  As you cruise up the Bear Creek valley in the Flat Top Range, there are three large reservoirs.  It gets prettier as you ascend.  The road ends a hundred yards short of Stillwater Reservoir at 10,200 feet.  The scenery was spectacular and everywhere we looked, there were splashes of colors from a variety of wild flowers. 

We made the short climb to Little Causeway Lake.  There was still snow around the lake that sits at 10,800 feet.  We walked all the way around the small lake, fishing as we went.  We saw no signs of the rumored cutthroat trout, but there was plenty of trout food:  scuds. 

We headed back down to Stillwater Reservoir and then hiked up to the inlet.  We fished near the inlet, which looked promising, but we didn’t get any bites.  Instead of taking the trail back, we fished along the lake a ways.  We stopped at a deep inlet where two small streams entered the lake.  I caught three nice trout:  one rainbow and two cutthroats. 

The area was fantastic and we vowed to return!

   

Starting our hike at Stillwater Reservoir  /  Still some snow at 10,300 feet

   

Purple fringe and forget-me-nots in the Flat Top Wilderness

   

Columbine and skyrocket flowers

   

Lupine and paintbrush flowers above Stillwater Reservoir

   

Mountain bluebells above Stillwater Reservoir  /  Arleen fishing Stillwater Reservoir

   

A rainbow trout and a cutthroat trout caught in Stillwater Reservoir

Fly-fishing lower Causeway Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness…didn’t see any fish

On 26 June we fished Red Dirt Reservoir…

It was nearly 90 degrees at a our campsite so we headed into the hills.  Red Dirt Reservoir is over 9,000 feet in elevation, nearly 2,000 feet higher than our home. 

Red Dirt Road is a fairly lengthy, narrow, winding mountain road that goes through several large groves of aspens.  We were surprised at the number of people camped near the lake.  We expected it to be peaceful, but it was quite a zoo. 

I fished for a couple of hours while Arleen hiked.  I only had one bite.  It was a good fish that hit hard.  Unfortunately, I set the hook too hard and it broke off.  I spoke to other fishermen that claimed to have caught nice brook and rainbow trout.  Arleen enjoyed her walk.

We planned to return with our kayaks, but didn’t.

Fly-fishing Red Dirt Reservoir

Kremmling-27 Jun 2015-hike   

Hike route to Eaglesmere Lakes  /  Marked up aspens

On 27 June we hiked to Eaglesmere Lakes in the Eagles Nest Wilderness…

The trailhead starts near Lower Cataract Lake, about 35 miles south of our home.  We arrived early and there were only three other cars so we didn’t expect to see many people.

Thick aspens and dense ground cover prevailed along the first section of trail.  Columbines and other colorful flowers poked their heads above the tall grass and many of the aspens were scarred by critters.  The trail broke into the open in spots revealing expansive views down the valley.  The high craggy peaks of the Gore Range loomed ahead with the roar of Cataract Creek below…it was very pretty.

As we hiked up, we saw just one backpacker heading down the trail.  We arrived at the pretty lakes and had them all to ourselves.  I cast Arleen’s spoon lure towards the center of the lake and hooked a good fish.  It took me a bit to figure out what I hooked.  It was healthy and strong and had unusual markings.  It was a 16 inch long cut-bow, a cross between a cutthroat trout and a rainbow trout. 

Shortly after I released that trout, the first of numerous other people started showing up.  I fished my way around the upper lake and only caught one other trout, another nice cut-bow.  I had to wade into the chilly water to make good casts with my fly rod.  Thankfully, it was a warm, sunny day and I was quite comfortable. 

We stayed at the lake for three or four hours.  During that time 25-30 other people joined us briefly.  Nearly everyone was friendly and we met some cool dogs. 

Thunder boomed a couple of times on our way back, but stayed distant.  It was cool to hear it echo off the canyon walls.  Surprisingly, the trailhead was filled with cars… a good reason to be on the trail early.

Kremmling23-27 Jun 2015b

Lots of aspens along the trail

   

Rocky Mountain Beardtongue flower along the trail  /  High in the Gore Range

   

Fly-fishing upper Eaglesmere Lake  /  A nice cut-bow trout

Kremmling-29 Jun 2015-hike   

Hike route to the saddle south of Stillwater Reservoir  /  “I’m going up there!”

On 29 June we went back to Stillwater Reservoir in the Flat Tops Wilderness…

I felt like poop and Arleen felt adventurous.  The plan was for her to hike a trail to the top of a 11,200 foot high saddle south of Stillwater Reservoir while I fished.

As I walked the trail above the north shore, I was, again, blown away by all of the flowers.  Splashes of purple, blue, white, pink, and yellow dotted the open meadows.  Roughly a mile from the truck, I arrived at the deep inlet where two creeks entered the lake.  I caught a nice brook trout within the first 10 minutes and then nothing for the next five hours. 

Amazingly, Arleen and I were able to text back and forth.  She informed me of her progress and I knew she was safe.  She spotted me from high above and took a bunch of pictures.  The basin on the south side of the saddle has four lakes and is on our wish list of places to backpack.  Based on Arleen’s pictures and her report, the area has moved to nearly the top of our wish list!

Kremmling51-29 Jun 2015

Lupines by Stillwater Reservoir

Kremmling52-29 Jun 2015

Columbines along the trail

Stillwater Reservoir seen from the saddle to the south

Hooper Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness

An 11,800 foot high peak in the Flat Tops Wilderness

   

Arleen’s view of me from the saddle  /  A healthy and strong brook trout

       

Lots of pretty flowers!

Next…

We had two good weeks in Breckenridge and have moved just 10 miles north to Lake Dillon in spectacular Summit County, Colorado.

Parting shots…

Evening alpenglow on Wolford Mountain Reservoir and the Gore Range

(84,200)