The best-laid plans of mice and fly-fishers often go astray, and that’s what happened on our recent road trip. I hadn’t anticipated being so relaxed or busy with new experiences that I couldn’t find the energy needed to dig out the computer from our camping vehicle in order to post here on the blog, but that’s my story and I should probably stick to it. I missed the regularity of posting and being in touch with friends and readers, but Leighanne and I enjoyed a wonderful journey through the Rocky Mountains from southern New Mexico north to regions near lovely Canada.
I managed to fish 2o streams and rivers in six terrific western states. We visited with friends and family, explored four national parks and one incredible national monument. We probably added seven-thousand miles to our modern equivalent of a stagecoach. Now it’s time to reconnect with bloggers and other friends, and I’ll do my best with catching up and sharing some of our experiences from the beautiful backbone of America.
I’ve decided to try to organize events on a state-by-state basis, one posting for each of a half-dozen states beginning with New Mexico and then proceeding through Colorado, Utah, Idaho-Wyoming, and Montana, concluding with a touch of the Dakotas. Here we go…
There’s nothing like the smell of desert rain as the southwestern monsoon season kicks in. My brother-in-law, Rich, and I revisited Dog Canyon near White Sands, New Mexico, enjoying the redolence of air produced by moisture interacting with creosote plants. I watched small birds in the riparian zone, especially verdins reconstructing their globular nest, and wondered how close we were to rattlesnakes and javelinas. Leighanne and I would soon be traveling north toward Taos and my fishing license followed by a fascinating tour of a Native American Pueblo.
We re-inhabited a primitive campground on the Rio Santa Barbara beneath the storming peaks of the Sangre de Christos. We got to walk and to fish about a mile of this beautiful churning water before the weather turned us back. I caught and released a lot of wild brown trout in the canyon and near our camp, but was saddened to learn that the Rio Grande cutthroats that I had caught here in the past have retreated to higher ground, thanks to competition from the browns and the likelihood of climate change.
Anyone interested in natural history and in Native American culture should visit the Taos Pueblo when passing through this region. Listening to and observing the Pueblo artisans where the sunlit waters of Red Willow Creek sparkled nearby, and where the scent of sage and cedar filled the air, was simply wonderful.
The Rio Costilla, or Costilla Creek, can be found in the Valle Vidal, near the Colorado border, about 20 miles east of tiny Costilla, New Mexico, and it offers the best Rio Grande cutthroat fishing in the state (special regulations apply). It’s a magical place, reminding me of Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley– without the crowds. We camped in solitude. The Costilla and its little tributary, Comanche Creek, are easy to fly-fish. There are no trees or shrubbery along the banks to snag your fly. You simply walk along the scented grasses and cast a dry fly for the hungry Rio Grande cutts.
A devotee of wild and colorful places, or a lover of small stream fly-fishing, can imagine entering heaven in a locale like this. The signs were everywhere.
[Next time, Top of the Rockies, Colorado]