How great is summer in the mountains? The days are long and bright, wildflowers are everywhere, and the snowdrifts have melted. The high country is open for business! Since this year's summer officially began, no weekend has been wasted.
To start, my family and I met Holdsworth at Lake Mary, located within Brighton Ski Resort. The hike to the lake was a great way for us to get some exercise and the fishy water at its end was an added bonus to the incredible scenery.
Lake Mary is a popular spot for people to beat the heat of the valleys. Though there are large clear signs stating that swimming is prohibited (Salt Lake's drinking water), they are often disregarded and droves of people can be seen plummeting in from the steep cliffs around the lake. Those in waders are exempt.
It's kind of sad that fish, bird, and wild animal feces is considered okay, but human skin isn't. Frivolous regs in my opinion.
The fishing was decent, catching 8 brookies and some minnows with my trap. Killing and using those minnows, I tipped a 1/8oz white tube jig with a smaller one and bounced it along the bottom. Most of the brookies were 13-14", but one was a little bigger.
Pretty, at least.
We had a really good time. Sonia caught a fish too, so that's a plus. Holdsworth showed up later with his tube and we fished until sunset, hiking down later as a group.
During the week, the fam and I tackled some local scrambles in Provo Canyon, which led to some great places. One of those hikes was a lot steeper than I had anticipated, but Sonia and James were able to tough it out. Debbie did well too, but only if I held her hand. Gotta love it.
This "trail" is much steeper than it looks and it had a crumbly bottom. It was probably a mile of hiking, not accounting for the many steps that had to be repeated. No switchbacks, no flats, just UP.
We decided to quit climbing at a pretty overhang with seeps above and inside it.
Did I mention it was steep?
It was a really tough hike for all of us, but we pushed and made it happen. We got back to the car as the daylight faded, all agreeing that we'd earned some frozen treats for our efforts.
A couple of days later, I showed them a waterfall that my Dad first took me to when I was six years old. Having never taken my family, and given our newly developed appreciation for good hikes, it was definitely time to get up there.
A beautiful cascade with a great spring right next to it, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
I remembered drinking from the falls with my Dad on that first trip. That being almost 30 years ago, much has changed and we didn't take any chances.
Along the left wall of that cove, the limestone releases wonderful water from an overhang lined with moss. The fresh spring water streams down long blades of grass and is safe to drink, as far as we can tell. We've gone up three times since, happily refilling bottles with the amazing earth juice.
The locals like to hang out there as well.
It's hard to beat that kind of refreshment on 100 degree days!
On Independence Day, Holdsworth and I got out for a half day excursion to a somewhat local pond and stream system. Having done quite well at the pond in the past, I was confident that Aaron would enjoy it for his first trip there.
Unfortunately, we got the skunk at the pond and hoped to salvage the day on the streams along the route home. The first stream held tiny cutthroat in beaver ponds and browns in the creek. This little squirt wanted a damselfly nymph.
Downstream, another stream flows in and I've always been able to catch decent fish nearby. This one put up a good fight.
Even farther downstream, the creek joins another couple to form a river. The river holds some pretty nice fish, but it isn't easy to catch them. The water clarity is usually an issue too, but it wasn't too bad on this visit.
Holdsworth and I did some careful wading to get across the large volume of water, searching for a good hole to fish. I got lucky and caught a long skinny brown but that was it for both of us.
Aaron and I got in a good float at Currant Creek Reservoir. Despite having our tubes, it was still a pretty slow day, only ending up with a handful of fish. Most were smaller than we'd have liked, but I did get one good tiger that went 22" and 3lbs.
Visiting the north end before we left, we found a couple of cutthroat in the shallows. Though the fishing could have been better, it's always nice to visit Currant Creek, hot or not.
A month in advance, my cousin Aaron (Phoenix) and I started planning a get-together, meeting somewhere in southern Utah. After some tough brain bashing, we decided to meet at Navajo Lake, near Cedar City. He was bringing his brother-in-law and I was bringing Holdsworth, of course.
Another camping trip with the Aarons was ready to unfold!
Making sure to stop at Cedar Breaks National Monument (over 10,400ft), we got some photos and finished the last little bit of our drive.
We arrived at the lake just after 11:00am and Aaron escorted us to the campsite he'd chosen (about a half mile north), where we setup before attempting to fish the lake.
Fishing from shore, we trapped some chub minnows and tried our best to find a big meat eater. This was not to be though, as our only catches were either chubs or tiny rainbows.
The wind continued to intensify and soon enough, we were getting some rain. Choosing to get rained on at camp, we bugged out and got a fire burning before the downpour hit. Waiting out the storm in Aaron's big tent, we ate dinner, popped some tops, and played our guitars until the strings popped. Good times!
Eventually, the rain cleared up, letting us enjoy the rest of our night outside. We had way too much fun and it was great to spend the time together. Aaron's brother-in-law, Jake, kept us all laughing the whole time and was good company.
In the morning, we broke down camp and got to the water. The weather was much nicer and wind wasn't an issue. Holdsworth and I searched for big fish on our tubes while Aaron and Jake fished along the dike.
Much like the day before, only small rainbows were showing up. Aaron and Jake needed to leave early in the afternoon for their 7 hour drive. It was really good to see my cousin again and to meet Jake.
Our campsite was in a gorgeous area among aspens and pines. For my first time staying in the area, I couldn't have been happier with our spot.
Along our drive home, Holdsworth and I chose to forego the faster I-15 route in order to hit some water along the way. Another rainstorm forced us to bypass Plan B and C, leaving us to fish a meandering stream in a neat canyon.
The fishing was also pretty slow in the creek, but a few mid-sized browns came to play.
Great looking water.
We got home late, beaten by a weekend with very little productivity in the way of fishing, but filled with enjoyment, regardless. Still a great trip.
(Photo limit - continued below)