Friday, July 28, 2017

Fishing the Grey, July 2017

The rivers here have finally cleared and retreated back into their banks. This means that fly fishing is in full swing. George and Val asked us if we wanted to fish the Grey and looking at our busy schedule, we readily agreed.
The next day we got off to an early start, eight thirty am, and made the short drive to Alpine, turning up the Grey River Road. The first miles were easy, and thanks to some road work relatively dust free. However, as we continued up the road we drove through clouds of dust as camper after camper pulled by us, heading home from the holiday weekend, (it’s Pioneer Day weekend, a holiday celebrated by the Latter Day Saints).
Reaching one of our favorite spots we saw that the river, while clear was still flowing too fast for us to be able to ford it. The Grey is a beautiful River that has a steep gradient and so shallow water still has enough force to sweep you off your feet!
Still we decided we could fish the edges and tying on our favorite flies we spread out. Casting one of my favorite patterns I set the hook on a small Snake river cut throat. The fish here are all wild, native fish and so we carefully release them.  Moving a bit upstream I caught two more cuts, one of which was an especially nice fish.
I noticed the others had gone back to the truck and so I returned to check on how they had done. No one else had caught anything or even had a fish make a pass! When I told them about my success, they all quickly tied on the same dry fly.
Heading further upstream we moved from spot to spot and everyone caught fish. It’s always a good day when everyone catches fish and it didn’t take long before I heard Renita yell, “Fish on”. By the time I got there she had landed the fish and I quickly took a picture of the fish before she safely released it back into the river

Lunch time found us sitting under a large ponderosa pine and as we ate our lunch, two rafts floated by. The people were throwing large flies and one said that they had caught two nice fish! The large fish run up the river, from the Snake, and so it’s possible to catch a twenty plus inch spawner!
We stopped at two more spots and now it was Val’s turn as she caught three fish in a row. The fish seemed to sense something was wrong with my offerings and they would rise before pulling back from my fly.

While it was frustrating, It really didn’t matter. It was time to return home and we had all caught and released nice fish. Finally, some good fishing!  Clear skies

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kayaking the Salt River Arm of Palisades

The rivers here are still high from the snow melt and runoff. They have cleared some but they are fast and dangerous. It’s almost August and we hadn’t kayaked yet, so we finally had a calm day and launched our yaks near the mouth of Salt River.
Situated between three mountain ranges, Palisades Reservoir is fed by three main rivers. The Snake River flows from Jackson, the Salt from Star Valley and McCoy Creek from the Cariboo. The reservoir was still over one hundred percent full and so the willows, normally the home for moose, were flooded.
American white Pelicans, numerous ducks, and even a flock of cedar waxwings had taken up a home on the little islands and were even raising their fledglings among the flooded landscape. Ospreys flew by clutching cut throat trout, it’s is a common sight here, as they carry food to their hungry young.
Now it’s rare to have a calm day here as the area is dominated by mountain and valley breezes, but today the water was so calm that Renita captured an image of me with the Cariboo Mountains in the background.
We headed up the Salt River Arm, and were surprised to feel the strong flow from the river emptying into the lake. It quickly carried us back into the main lake and as we drifted an adult bald eagle flew by calling to its nest.
Occasionally, a fish would rise and take a floating insect but for the most part they were feeding on the small fry and minnows hiding among the flooded trees. We drifted some more until the current slackened and we finally stopped.

It was an amazing morning, with incredible calm waters and it felt great to finally launch the boats. The water in the Snake itself is way above our skill level and so we talked of catching a raft ride with one of the professional rafting guides. Clear skies

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Strawberry Creek Road and Strawberry Lake, above Bedford, Wyoming

We had never been to Strawberry lake, located up Strawberry Creek Road, and so when George and Val invited us, we quickly jumped at the chance. The next morning, they picked us up in their four-wheel drive Bronco. It’s a nineteen sixty-eight and has been modified to be a rock crawler so it will go virtually anywhere on any road.
The road is narrow and rocky and so while we could drive it in our truck, I sure wouldn’t want to meet anyone as there were few places to pull over. If you have ever been four wheeling on a rocky mountain road you know enough to have your seat belts tight as you bounce around as the vehicle crawls over every rock.
Arriving at the end of the road George walked down to the edge of the stream and found a set of bear prints. They were small and he thought they might have been from a yearling cub. They kind of looked like grizzly prints and so we nervously looked around for the sow but the bears weren’t visible.
Donning our fly fishing gear George and Val headed up stream as I decided to fish the lake. Renita meanwhile opted to take photos of the lake and so as I cast and cast she wandered around doing the photographer thing. She did spot a beautiful western tanager which turned out to be the bird of the day!
I showed her some of the large fish in the lake and just as George had told me they just wouldn’t bite. The lake is a put and take lake where the game and fish stalk trout for people to catch and eat. This mean the fish have been heavily fished and the survivors are extremely hard to catch.
I did get them to look at my nymphs but they all decided that something just looked fishy. No problem as it was a delightful day to be in Wyoming’s Salt Mountains. Giving up on the fishing we looked for rocks and for more bear tracks but didn’t find any.
Val returned and said they hadn’t had any luck fishing either. I decided to head up the trail looking for George as its always a joy watching a master angler fish his nymphs. When I met him, he told me that there just weren’t any fish and that he had lost a plethora of nymphs in flooded willows.

Hiking back to the Bronco, we met the girls and had a lunch in a shaded spot. It’s such a beautiful spot and one we will return to another day. We enjoyed the return ride down the mountain road and were soon back to our base camp. Clear skies

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Replacing the Flooring In Our Bighorn

Upon arriving from down south in mid-May, we moved into our Bighorn fifth wheel. It spent the winter parked on our rv lot in Star Valley, Wyoming, and we had contracted with a person to shovel off the heavy snow. Opening the door, we saw that the linoleum in the kitchen had split but we were pleased to see that there were no leaks from the record snows.
Putting off the onerous job we finally traveled to Idaho Falls and purchased some inexpensive laminate flooring. Next the real work began as we tore off the old flooring. What a job! The linoleum wasn’t bad as it was not glued down, just stapled on the edges and it came off quickly.
However, removing the carpeting turned out to be a nightmare. It had been stapled with two different sized staples and some areas had even been glued. Using a pry bar, a large screwdriver. A hammer, and several other tools I slowly ripped the carpet up and removed every staple, (countless staples).
It took me three days to get the old flooring up but luckily the sub flooring didn’t have any damage. The next step was to install a very thin layer of waterproof material before laying the floating laminate flooring over the top.
I had installed this flooring in our old stick and brick house, and it worked out nice, but the job in the fifth wheel turned into a tough job with many discouraging words, (not normally allowed in Wyoming). The problem was that the flooring we had bought was on sale, and the price reflected in the quality.
As I would lay down a row, everything would come along fine but as I installed the next row the previous planks would develop a gap. What should have been an easy one-day job, became a nightmare as the glue less flooring didn’t live up to its name.
I also had trouble with the edge pieces and the nearest pull bar tool was located one hundred miles away, (also the location of my dentist). After another trip to Idaho Falls we finally finished the flooring and added some throw rugs, (the dog hates the new floor as she slides on the slick surface, but she loves the new throw rugs).

At least the flooring turned out good. Renita had matched the color of the flooring to the oak cabinets nicely and we have received compliments on how nice it looks. It was one of those jobs that saved us a lot of money, perhaps now we can look forward to working on landscaping, put in some cement work and build a pergola, (the cement work will be contracted out but I look forward to building the pergola). Clear skies

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hunting Morel Mushrooms

Some of my earliest memories are of the family trips are when we were hunting morel mushrooms. Dad loaded us into the car and we drove to an Iowa woodland where we would scatter and search the forest floor for morels. We usually found some and dad would saute them in butter, after first giving them a light coating of flour.
Later Renita and I moved to Wyoming, and we found a few morels one spring, in the campground at Devils Tower Wyoming. They were on the forest floor along the Belle Fouche River, at the base of some dead cottonwood trees.
Approaching a nearby ranch we asked, and received permission and found the most morels we have ever found, three garbage bags full. What a joyous day! Returning to the ranch house we shared them with the owner, who didn’t seem to be excited about us giving her a third of what we found.
Becoming full time rvers we next found a few in a national park. We had gone to Mammoth Cave National Park in search of a sinkhole named Hunts Sink, (as we travel around the country we try to visit places that I taught in my Earth Science and Geology classes). and we found them near the sinkhole entrance. Another place we found some was when we camped at another private campground in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
I had heard of the tremendous numbers of mushrooms found, the year after a forest fire, and so when last year’s fires burned areas of nearby parks and forests. Our first search took place in late May, which seemed to early, and we never found any. It was only when we did our first show in Alpine that a friend told us that everyone had been picking them for the last two weeks.
Three days later we headed to the Shoshone National forest. We had camped there last year and a huge fire had blackened most if the forest in the lighting caused Lava Mountain burn. Stopping at a picnic area we talked with a couple of campers about mushroom hunting, and after viewing the falls we headed into the burn area.
Our first stop found us walking through a burned area, but without any success. Our friend George didn’t return right away, so I went hunting for him and as I searched for George I noticed morels by a burned tree! I also found where someone had harvested other morels.
Driving to another place I quickly found cut stems but I also found some mushrooms that had been missed. Calling to Renita, I told her that there were mushrooms in the area and after finding some more  we returned ot the truck when George showed us his first ever morels.
We drove to two more spots, that were covered with burned trees. but never found any more morels. All of us had noticed many new and large and moose tracks and scat. It was also a little weird trying to hunt mushrooms while keeping an eye out for grizzly and black bears.

We had found almost a gallon of mushrooms, and it was time to head back to our summer base camp. What a delightful day in the forest! I had been flooded with memories of long ago family hunts where my dad and my brother. Mike, had taught me woodcraft and plant identification, (I do better at rocks). Hunting the wild morels with our friends from Colorado was a new blessing and a new memory. The morels sure tasted great at dinner last night. Clear skies