Saturday morning we gathered Aspen and headed to Shadow Mountain Lake for her morning swim. What a difference a week makes, last weekend the kayak launch was bustling with activity and this weekend it was our own little oasis. After swimming Aspen for an extended period of time we headed back to Base Camp to gather the “Big Mango” to kayak Grand Lake. After loading the kayak on top of the Tahoe we head back over to the launch site. In the water and on our way we easily paddle the channel from Shadow Mountain Lake into Grand Lake without needing to wait in a queue to enter the lake. Once more we find ourselves paddling along the southern shore at a steady pace as there is no real hurry except for a sudden crack of thunder interrupting our adventure. Turning back toward Stillwater Pass and viewing the clouds it looks as if the rain will stay to the north, paddle on. In all there could have been no more than a dozen of various watercraft on the water, a few boats toiling about looking to catch a fish or two, a single paddle boarder plying his craft on the water and a few others kayaking the lake. Paddling towards Mount Baldy you notice that a grove of Aspen trees directly to the north are showing their fall colors ranging from a burnt orange to their signature golden yellow. Fall is coming even though I would prefer a few more warm weather weekends. Paddling along the northern shore we meander into North Inlet Creek paddling as far back as we are able, the creek provides a quite respite off the bustling lake. Reversing course and back on the lake we cross the beach where folks are enjoying the weather and taking in the warm mountain sun. Entering the channel and heading back onto Shadow Mountain Lake the wind suddenly picks up just as we were about to circumnavigate the small island across from the kayak launch. With a quick eye to the sky and determining rainfall was eminent we head back to shore after paddling close to 4.5 miles today. We were met onshore by a mother with her two kids attempting to have a picnic lunch near the waters edge before the wind and rain sends them scrambling back to their car. With the kayak secured back atop the Tahoe we were head back to Base Camp but not with out stopping at the Mountain Food Market to pick up an avocado and a few other provisions for this evenings meal as we had our world famous Chicken Tinga Tacos. Well maybe not world famous but Stella believes we should start a food truck featuring our Chicken Tinga Tacos, maybe she is on to something.
Sunday morning started bright and early. After racing around late Saturday afternoon acquiring a few new fishing supplies I headed down to Monarch Lake. Arriving just a touch after 7AM with the temperature a balmy 39 degrees according to the Tahoe I headed out to secure my spot on the water. Walking up to the trailhead I noticed a bunch of garbage strewn about and the set eyes on the bear proof garbage bin that apparently is no longer bear proof. Signing in at the trailhead I begin walking down the trail towards the dam with my head on swivel looking about for the aforementioned bear as my bear spray is securely tucked away in my pack back at Base Camp. I did notice a small pile of bear scat off the trail but it appeared not to be that fresh so I set my sight on my target location and notice to others beat me to the spot just east of the dam. Well I guess the early bird gets the worm, not to be discouraged I scoure the shoreline and determine the next best spot is a bit further south but with similar feature to my original spot. With pole in hand and my Patch Adams fly at the end of the line I cast the line into the water. After a few more casts I let the fly sit in the water giving a tug every now and then then to bring the fly back to the surface. Feeling a little famished I reach into my pocket for Tanka Buffalo Cranberry Bar and at the same moment I have a bite from a fish. It hit my line and ran, I tried to set the hook but my drag was to loose, I quickly attempted to tighten the drag and reset the hook but to no avail, the fish spit the hook. Though I did not land the big one I am encouraged as this was my first bite I had all year with a new technique using a fly. After my adrenaline subsided I recast the line back into the lake hoping for a second chance as the fishing were popping about across the lake. Spending another hour or so, my stomach was calling for breakfast. I packed my gear and began my trek back to the trailhead where I ran into the two ladies from the previous weekend, they indicated they were out here the last two days without a bite, I spoke about the one that got away. Speaking of getting away, I was headed out at the right time as the masses were beginning to head into the trailhead. I am already looking forward to next weekend.