|upper Hermosa forks|
Mountain biking? Schweet stuff.
Fly fishing? Awesomeness in and unto itself, you might say.
Mountain biking to far-flung remote areas to fly fish where few anglers have gone before?
Boom!, that's Hermosa Creek schweetness right there.
|Two paths diverged in the woods. And I? I biked one, fished the other|
I was so geeked at the prospect of finally getting Hermosa Creek Trail done right, I found myself pulling into the shuttle pickup a good half-hour early. You know, to check over my gear and bike yet again, never mind that I had just done the same back at camp, like 30 minutes ago.
Camelbak, check. Lunch, shotblocks, check. Map, gps, matches, check. Socks, gloves, helmet, mtb shoes, check. Flyrod, reel, flybox x2, nippers, hemos, floatant, tippet, check, check, check! Oh man, this is gonna be great!
|best $25 spent all weekend|
Nick and Lisa with Hermosa Tours were running our shuttle up the mountain for the day. Lisa actually had two of our group (coupla Las Cruces young guys in matching team jerseys) as sports for the day. Our shuttle rep'd another NM contingent from Fanta Se, plus a nice younger couple from the Front Range. Jason from Cali was the only single rider other than yours truly, every part the veteran with a schweet downhill rig and one of those decked-out Mercedes surf-and-bike touring vans.
|obligatory bike shot|
Nick and Lisa drop us off on a ridge above Purgatory ski resort, everyone promptly flies off down the dirt road hellbent for the trailhead some 5 miles away. Me, I'm still cinching fly rod, reel, fishing hat to my camelbak.
I swing a leg over, catch up to Lisa and her bookends in short order, pass the front range couple, man theYeti can fly on the downhill! I settle in behind Lisa + sports until we reach the trailhead then let them peel off down the trail looking for all the world like the devil himself was after them.
I give them some space, mosey across the East Fork, get to crankin myself. I settle in a bit to get a feel for the trail, bike and weighted pack. Before you know it I'm kickin it after my fashion, nothing that would impress most anyone else mind you, but I can just tell I'm in my groove today. Oh man it felt nice- really, really nice you know?
One of the unique aspects of Hermosa is the extended downhill nature of the trail. She runs a good 20 miles from upper to lower trailheads (the only vehicle-access points), dropping from 9,400' down to round 7,000' in the process. That means downhill fun, no matter how you do the math!
So I continue bombing down the trail, soaking in the smaller jumps and berms, just enjoying the ride on this renowned trail. It's a solid 3 miles from the TH before I really start the sidelong glances at the shimmering, crystal clear watercourse running alongside the trail. I pull over occasionally to savor the moment, the day!, snap a quick pic. Not yet, man, not yet, the rod stays stowed.
It's two more miles of tread before I finally find that unforgettable stretch I've been looking for, and give in to the growing urge. I stash the Yeti streamside, assemble the 4wt, tie a Root Beer Float onto the business end and step onto that huge boulder backing the glory pool before me. I take a moment to count targets, there's at least six fish within casting range, a couple really worth writing home about. In goes the pitch, and just like that I'm counting coup on my first trout of the day.
I'm telling ya the Hermosa down in the depths of that canyon is like that. A fish behind every rock, in every eddy, in every run and pocket. Beyond five miles in, there are no hikers, no runners, and exactly zero Texas Wheelchairs. Just bikers and the occasional moto. And while I'm not one to normally kiss and tell, you make it down there and back out, son you've earned the right to carry a rod with you and enjoy more of the same.
|mostly bows, with brooks, cutts, cuttbows mixed in|
Hermosa? With exactly two access points separated by 20 miles, it's not goin anywhere.
Back at the flyshop, the counter guy was calling that the 1% rule: you know friend, 99% of the fly anglers are not mountain bikers; 99% of the bikers don't tote a fly rod along. That trip is made for the 1%.
Gotta love it.
|lower Hermosa canyon|
|your ticket to happiness|
What they don't tell you in the trail reviews: 8 miles road + 20 miles trail + 1,900 feet of climbing on a 'downhill' trail makes for one loooong day indeed. Back at basecamp, I was beyond washed out. Thinking backonit, I make it five hours in the saddle, 3 more chasin fins. Tabulate the energy food you'll need, then double it, sounds 'bout right. 100oz camelbak ran out within 1 mile of the lower TH, 24 miles in. Plan accordingly!