Wednesday, August 31, 2011

places such as this

The ancients wrote of the three ages of men; I propose to write of the three ages of fishermen.  When he wants to catch all the fish he can.  When he strives to catch the largest fish.  When he studies to catch the most difficult fish he can find, requiring the greatest skill and most refined tackle, caring more for the sport than the fish.. ~ Edward R Hewitt

If it is a well known fact fly anglers progress in such a predictable manner, less is understood, I think, about our evolution beyond the catching.

In my mind, there is a Fourth Age of fly fishing, a stage in which I have been enamored for some time.

Beyond catching great numbers, or measuring length x girth, or even finally, finally! sticking that one obstinate riser, lies the fourth stage- the Experience.

Experience these years increasingly defined by the effort invested, by the remoteness of venue, by the quality of vista, the purity of air, the clarity of waters.

And last, by the rarity of that pursued.

Admittedly, I have spent much of my time here in NM seeking out those places beyond the beaten path, relishing the heady sensation that is the untrammeled high country.

Still, in many respects I remain no great angler, no headhunter to be feared by our finny friends.  In fact, I suspect my skills with the rod and reel may well have already peaked.

Oh yes there remains many a fish I will not catch, can not catch, big fish among them.  Curiously, a fact that might have driven me to fish dawn to dusk at one time, honing my skills as an angler, now seems.... trivial. 

Fly fishing blasphemy?  I guess that might be true.  More likely it's that Fourth Age.

Saturday, on the drive home, with two sleepyheads in the back seat, I mulled around a revelation of sorts.

If much of the fly fishing in my adult life has been spent in my own quixotic search for the Experience, there has been a distinct, unmistakeable transition these last few years.  

The desire to pay the Experience forward.


On to my next generation of anglers.

A Fifth Age perhaps?

Of that I have no doubt.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

disciples of dirt

Yeah, fishing plans were displaced this weekend, whatchagonnado. 

So this Dad broke the glass on Plan B.

 Time to put all those recent field explorations to good use.

You know the feeling- you find that one serene fishing pool, that one buff mtb trail.  

And you file the moment away to share with someone special.

Not with just anyone mind you. 

 Oh no, we're talking the top One-Percenters here. ;-) 
In this case, fellow disciples of dirt.

Love those guys.

I surely do.

Special thanks to StageWest for sharing recent trail beta allowing me to pay it forward to the next generation of riders.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

note to self

nuf said.

EDIT: Well that dint go as planned, temporarily derailed by the capriciousness that is young children.  

Rule #1 of blogging- do not, do not EVER, blog about an intended trip, as that will most assuredly draw the gaze of the Fates of Flyfishing, and rewrite your script before it begins.

See you all on the mountain biking trails this weekend! ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

singletracks! armijo-faulty trail

If 18 miles of Otero/David proves a reliable means of laying this rider out, there are other local options to accomplish the same goal, and save some time in the process.

Take Faulty Trail for example.

Faulty has long been the benchmark by which I judge my peak fitness each season. For this mortal rider, it consistently proves a grueling uphill climb from the lower trailhead, up the six miles to the trail's highpoint above the intersection of Bill Spring Trail.  In my minds eye, I count at least 3 considerable hikabikes, not to mention the countless smaller I'll-just-stop-here-and-take-in-the-view, you-know-for-the-blog's-sake breathers.

But after six-plus miles of grinding uphill, that downhill back to the truck?  Priceless. 

You can imagine my dismay no relief yeah dismay earlier this summer, to arrive at the lower trailhead, and find this:

Turns out a few bad apples will spoil the barrel every time.  

The lowest access to Faulty for mountain bikers (outside of designated Wilderness) has required a trip up Cole Springs Road, which as it turns out, is a private road.  Over the years, the landowners have dealt with increasing amounts of trash, parking issues, gate blockages, and unruly traffic, I guess enough to finally pull the plug on access back in July. By my count, mountain bikers have lost a good 2 miles of prime East Mountain singletrack.

Bummer that, for both me and you.  

So I found myself casting about for a new lower access to Faulty, hopefully one that added some miles back to those recently lost.

Looks like I found what I was looking for in Armijo trail.  Armijo begins with a ripping half-mile descent over a series of graded switchbacks.  I was not more than a quarter of the way down when I nearly ran into this guy lounging on the trail.

Only my third quality sighting of bobcat in my life- most are just blurred streaks leaving me wondering if that was indeed what I just witnessed.  This guy spent our 3 minutes together trying to blend back into the hillside, moving only the exact amount backwards to match my every advance.

Armijo showed a moderate grade on its climb to Faulty, saving its punishment for that last half mile prior to the intersection.  Faulty from there on out is as you remember it.  Chunky, rooty, ledgy, swoopy all in one.  Most times in mixed ponderosa-pinon forest, at times dense when you plunge down into drainages.

And steep!  So bring your spare set of lungs, and leave your bandy legs at home.  Faulty will assuredly extract its pound of flesh.  But leave you grinning nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

notes from the field

Spent some more time exploring Otero-David canyon this weekend.
greening back up!
Strung together an 18-mile loop despite a most excellent 16-mile gps track from Stagewest.  For the uninitiated, it's waaaay too easy to get lost out there.
siesta at mile 9

Which proved a big, big ride for this hombre, what with most all the technical stuff showing up at the tail-end of the loop.  Thx for that SW, I owe you one my friend!  No really, I OWE you one. ;-)
fuel for the two wheel drive
Sheared the front valve stem off at mile 14, promptly suffered fleeting panic at the thought of my camelbak empty with no spare tube.  Frantic search, yes!, my spare remained stowed safely away this past year or more, just waiting to be called to duty.  Thank dog!

fortune smiles on the prepared
Made it back to the truck, camelbak drained, after 4.5 hours in the field. 

temps into mid 90's, luving the ponderosa canopy
Sank deep into the front seat, A/C blasting, totally and absolutely smoked.

Back in town my refueling and refitting went something like this:
  1. Keva Juice, small, with kevajizer
  2. Purchase replacement tube, thornproof, slimefilled, promptly stowed away for next emergency
  3. nectarine, perfectly ripe
  4. banana, slightly bruised
  5. rice bowl complete with stir fried veggies, BBQ chicken.
  6. nap
2 hours later:
  1. three pieces Pizza 9, delux
  2. bowl of apple crisp cobbler
  3. family movie night and to bed by 9
Man that was fun!

Monday, August 1, 2011

fool in the rain

I think in the back of my mind I meant to do it.  I mean what else can explain setting out for 3-4 hour bike ride at 11.30am at the height of New Mexico's monsoon season, spanning the peak time for thunderstorms?  In the Manzanitas surrounding Otero Canyon no less.

scared the bejeebers out of me

Foolish, I know.  I mean I knew the risks- most notably, lightning aside, the trails become virtual adobe tar pits when soaked, rendering riding beyond useless, and destructive to boot.  So what explains my lapse in judgment?

two bucks and doe

We have been so starved for rain round these parts, I guess I wanted to get up there where our local storms are often born, listen to their boomers echoing off the canyon walls, and just experience a full-on spectacular 4D rain event. 

Let's call it temporary drought insanity.

Diagnosis notwithstanding, Sunday afternoon there was tread to lay down.  Over hard-packed dirt.


Recent rains coupled with trail closures just lifted left some sections groomed just like a garden path, simply inviting exploration.  Invitation accepted!
adobe ribbon

An afternoon full of climbing, I'm finally on the downward swing, bombing down into Otero proper.  The forest rushes by my handlebars, a blur as I focus on executing small drops, jumps, banks at speed.  At 4 miles to go, it begins as a welcome sprinkle, followed soon enough by a growing rumbling and an occasional strobe out of the corner of the eye.
and so it begins

3 miles, and I'm watching the tread darken ahead of me thru heavy drops, I find I'm in that magical moment where the trail turns to hero dirt, the tackiness just perfect for increased grip and speed.

2 miles, the ridges to either side have disappeared into the gathering storm.  Rain is falling steadily, the rocks and trail now beginning to glisten, signalling the fun is near done- mud is nigh upon thee!

Fairly soaked already, I pull up under a protective canopy to stash the phone and gps deep within my pack.  I take a moment to take in the view of what I came to witness.  A dark rain shroud settles over the upper canyon, slowly rolling down and in.  Lightning flashes, and thunder answers without delay.  Rain is now drumming, time to get a move on!

1 mile, my treads are losing their grip, mud now flying into my face.  The thickening storm is now directly at my back, it's a balls-on race to the finish.

Breathless, I fly up to the truck as all hell breaks loose.  I rack the bike, stash the electronics, and turn to face that which I came to witness, to experience.   Lightning cracks, rain hammers, I'm engulfed in wave upon wave of the torrential downpour.   

Standing there, alone in an empy lot, a fool in the rain.  It's a glorious moment.