Monday, August 22, 2011

At Long Last

I'm sure that some of my backcountry confederates can relate to this one. Anybody have a lake that they have looked at longingly for years, but never managed to reach? I caught whispers of this lake and it's inhabitants almost 4 years ago. Someday, I told myself at first. Then next year. Then this year. Then as some of you may recall, I attempted to get there last year. But after some.... navigational errors on the part of your narrator, I didnt quite make it.

But not this year, dammit. This year I was gonna get there, come hell (and after this winter) definitely high water.

With my big butt kicking trip of the year coming up in a week, my buddy Brandon and I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to go to the unicorn lake, as a final effort of shaping up for our big one. But this trip in and of itself is no slouch. 17 miles roundtrip. With the last 1.8 miles of the trail on the way in showing a 2,000+ft elevation gain!

We didnt have a ton of time to do this one, so as soon as Brandon got off work, we blasted down the road. The staters were out in full force, must've been Double XP weekend or something. But we managed to get past them without a ticket and by 6 we were driving alongside the river, and I found myself unable to resist the urge to stop and go head hunting for awhile.

After about 20 minutes of watching my big old hopper float downriver with a little glossosoma caddis in tow, I was beginning to think we should just continue to the trail when this bad boy mauled my hopper and took me scrambling downriver after him.

After that we hopped back in the car and headed for the trailhead. By the time we had gotten our packs on and the car locked up, it was fully dark and we headed down the trail on our first ever backcountry night hike. We had 7 miles slated for this night. The hiking went smoothly, owing to the awesome power of Backcountry Navigator for Android. Get it. Hell of a tool. Somewhere around mile six, we stopped and took this awesome night shot, with a 15 second shutter time. The stars were amazing.

We opted to sleep under the stars that first night, at the base of the big slope we had to ascend the final two miles before the lake. It was a miserable night for me. I was freezing. The wind was cutting through my bag like butter. But, the next morning, a little worse for wear, we started up the hill.

After the grueling slog up that infernal hill, we finally reached the aquamarine jewel of my many dreams.

And got straight to the business at hand.

Fishing started off slow, with a few cruisers and risers to be seen, but no takes. I opted to take a short, 3 hour nap. It was a great nap, other than the fact that I had taken off my shoes and neglected to put sunscreen on my feet. Ouch.

Fortunately, during my UV rich siesta, Brandon took it upon himself to move around the lake and find some cooperative fish. When I found him, we spent the next couple hours catching a bunch of nice Goldens and I must have missed 30 takes stripping a foam caddis erratically across the surface of this little corner of heaven.


That was it for the fishing. I took up a spot at the base of a perfect leaning rock, and had the perfect backcountry treat.

The next morning, we decided to forgo fishing and headed straight down the hill. The easiest 8.3 miles I have ever done.

All in all, a wonderful trip. Dont know that I will ever make it back to that lake, but what a lake! Stay tuned for an undoubtedly long winded and esoteric account of my upcoming trip in a week or two!


  1. Great report! Glad you finally got to make it there.

  2. Jay, fantastic trek to say the least. The scenery is awesome and it sounds like you guys had a blast despite the extra rosy color on your feet.

    I'm looking forward to the next adventure, thanks for sharing.

  3. First, i was so amaze with the view. They are fantastic and i don't mind the trek if i am there, its actually the part where i enjoy.
    By the way, that's nice catch though.
    I enjoy reading this blog.