Thursday, April 19, 2018

First trip of the year

Normally when a guy takes his first fishing trip of the year, he can't wait to get home to answer that one all important question, "How was the fishing?"  I wasn't particularly anxious to have to face my friends this time.

I'm sorry to say that the accommodations at Swiftcurrent were perfect. The Big Thompson's flow was perfect and the wildlife viewing was good. The trip was miserable.

If you're waiting for the punchline, there isn't one. I had to admit to myself that perhaps my best days roaming around the mountains of Colorado may be past.

I've lived and played in the Rockies my whole life and never felt the effects of altitude sickness until this trip. For those that don't know, Altitude sickness is the lack of oxygen as you move quickly from one altitude to one higher. I live approximately one mile above sea level. Rocky Mountain National Park is about 2500 feet higher. Not a huge jump, but one that caused the inability to breathe when lying down, headaches, loss of appetite and stumbling around like you're drunk.

The weather was beautiful, especially on Monday.  We arrived late Sunday afternoon and decided to just take it easy and unwind. That night while trying to sleep, I continually woke up gasping for breathe. I sleep with a CPAP but it didn't help because I use oxygen at night and I don't normally carry oxygen with me. The next day while we were waiting for the water to warm up, we drove around the area watching for wildlife. We saw a large number of deer and a large herd of elk.

When we got back, Pam decided to take a short hike and I broke out the fishing gear.  In this area, the Big Thompson is small water and I really enjoy fishing it. Except the banks are stacked boulders looking to take someone down. After fishing for about an hour, Pam came back and I started to work my way carefully back up the rocks to see how her hike had been. Before I knew what happened, I went down...hard. Fly rod, glasses and me going in different directions. Luckily nothing was seriously hurt.

To add insult to injury, after I pulled myself up I noticed a fly fisherman catch a trout in the area I had been fishing.

At dinner time that evening I grilled some chicken and steak with garlic mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. I couldn't even force myself to eat. That night I had the same problem as the night before.

Tuesday was our last day and Pam had found some really sweet looking water with brookies just begging to be caught.  Unfortunately, I was just plain feeling like hell and only wanted to go home and sleep, so we packed it up and went home.

As my 69th birthday approaches I'm left imagining what it will be like without my mountains. If so, my heart is broken.