By Michael Harrington
Elk Creek Campground, June 30-July 10, site 11
ACT TWO – 2022
Act One, July 6-14, 2021 was our first visit to E C, site 29. Invited by the Craigs to join if I could, to visit, fish, happy hour, dinners etc. Saying yes, I asked Mr. Payne if he was interested.
Yes, so I hooked up Angus [ed: camp trailer], away we went. Everything went fine associated with our trip. First time hauling 40 gallons of freshwater that dropped my mpg from 18-20 to 11.
Ouch! gag gag, pain!
EC does have water by spigot but no RV fill allowed from that source.
Forward to ACT TWO, 2022
Day one: Thursday June 30, 75 degrees
Easy drive in spite of the holiday traffic we arrived in good weather and set-up went smooth. New site #11 was close to the river with spur creeks running close by. Deli chicken, my homemade potato salad, liquid was no-cook dinner. Nice sunset, warm evening, eyes closed by 9.
Day Two: Friday, July 1, 40 degrees at 6:00 a.m.
Casual Day in camp. About 1:15, sprinkles, then larger drops that would give the visiting robins a headache, bigger drops announcing “get ready”. BB size hail, up to pea size, we sit for 45 absorbing the fresh wet scent of ponderosa, heavy rain, drumbeats from a mottled sky and a truck wash, free! Did I say we were under a canopy?
We knew the monsoon days were two weeks early and that was a truism, dropping various strengths for 6 out of the 10 days. Two hours and thirty minutes of clap, clap, lightening, boom! Ah, 4th of July! Short reprieve, then two more hours of liquid gold.
After dinner, perfect time for one of my reads. Colorado author Russell Martin’s National Best Seller, “Beethoven’s Hair.” Larry’s headphones on, he disappears into his book. Let it rain! It stopped at 6:00, sun shining in every droplet. Sleep smells good.
Day Three: Saturday, July 2, Clear 36, calm (there was to be NO wind the entire trip).
Camp breakfasts from the 60 year old Coleman. I even have one of the original working C’s. They were tan! We drive up the hard, bumpy, kinda wet Platoro road to try and find Kerr Lake like we did last year. No find, no see, no fish for Larry or me, we are not happy! First lake, Lily had cruising fish of size, skim feeding the surface, looking like beaver as they riffled the glassed surface water. Belly boat the only way to reach them with the heavy wide growth of tall grasses. Skeeters big as nickels!!
Kerr Lake snubs us once again. We are calling the lake ‘Exasperation’, maybe ‘Phantom’. Headed back to camp, flirting with the pending afternoon truck wash, losing again.
From the high up town of Platoro, there are many pull outs to fish the winding river. Closer to the bolts from the sky might be a risky try. Next year will Kerr Lake be the third time charm? Hey Steve, hire out?
Rain invited itself to HH [ed: happy hour] without asking. Not a day for basking. Sleeping is deep.
Day Four: Sunday July 3, 46 & sprinkles, overcast gray, rain during the night.
Driver Craig to Big Lake and river/creek is called off. By 12:30 the normal Colorado a.m. rain quit, ushering in scattered sunshine with a breeze that blew slow and cool, doing it’s best to re-direct fire-ring smoke (to repel the winged biters) in it’s traditional search to the wrong direction, smoking up our lungs.
Light breakfast, no lunch in anticipation of the hike. dinner was Green Pepper Steak and sides out of a cast iron skillet. Salad, wine.
Day Five: Monday July 4
Craigs, Payne, Harrington out at 8 to F I S H. Woo woo, we coming after you. Splitting up, giving each of us 200 yards (m/l) of quality, clear, water full of fish we could see, but proved to be one of those “what…you cast how many times?” And you caught how few? How many cows were standing where you wanted to cast? Steve had decent sizes and catches,(that favorite Beetle), Tracy caught a book. Larry had nothing but air on his fly(s) and Michael, pressing hard to not get zeroed, finally after tying down from #16’s to a magical #26 Rasmussen Sparkle Blue Dun, brought out of the undercut a feisty Brook measuring out to a whopping 5″. I was saved. Whew!!!
We all saw fish but the large were absent of interest, staying down in the deep pools of the oxbows. A good day of fishing that made for well deserved hooch and sighs of relief.
Great conversation with dinner and the Craigs, Dils, M & L, with the rain also listening.
Day Six: Tuesday July 5, Woke to absence of wet. Sun shining on wings of Caddis.
Day off for fishers. Split up to shop, tour the Amish auction in La Jara, hang out at camp, walk campground noting sites to come back to. Read. Raining by 11:00 p.m.
Day Seven: Wednesday July 6
I take a day off. Sorting food, ice bottles, refreezing for the coolers, menu planning, prep HH. Highlight of this day is a visit from a couple of Aspen Glade campers. Treated by the presence of Nita and Gene Stevens, long time chapter members always in the mix of events favorable to everyone.
Conversation as dessert with Gene and Nita always lively and greatly missed(by me) is the wit mixed with acceptable brash and banter, keeping up with the speed of Gene’s comebacks as fast as barbs are traded as if scripted. All in fun for laughter well meant, well spent. And Nita, equal stature with balance keeping Gene in “aw shucks” bounds.
That’s quite a catch by Gene, I am sure without matching a hatch. Marriage is sound!
Another great day at Elk Creek in the books.
Day Eight: Thursday July 7, 40 degrees
Larry up early, builds breakfast fire, warms the bones, cooks breakfast. Get to fishing spots before the guides and clients hog the river spots. A day we all ask for; palette of Ultramarine, chalk white wide-spaced clouds with Payne’s (no pun) Grey under the billow. Yes, we dreamed the need from our pillows.
Passels of fish are reeled in and released from Lock Lake and Big Lake and from the outlet tail of the creek. A smorgasbord of flies from the boxes. Larry catching the largest and longest cuttbow, reward for the trek to Big Lake.
Wine, booze, tastes better when fish are biting. Everything is good!
Finished a great read, “Beethoven’s Hair.” Next is ‘Water Marks” short stories.
Day Nine: Friday July 8, 34 degrees agrees with my pj’s of fleece.
Repeat of day eight.
Except for dinner; Vietnamese Pho/shrimp with a semi sweet white, will sleep just right.
Day Ten: Saturday July 9, 36 but a warm sun.
Walk across campground after breakfast to visit Craigs. Campground mostly empty. Note better sites with solar access, closer to water, bathrooms, more private, no headlights into site. you know, the little things!
Last Happy Hour under the canopy with the Craigs and the rain. Steaks for dinner with wine, sides. Sleep.
Day Eleven: Sunday July 10, 40, dry.
Light breakfast. Time to break camp
Hooked up by 8:30. Craigs early walk over to Bon Voyage’, to home we go.
Bests to all. M H