Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Roll Damn Trout: My Time Spent up High Recently

What I want you to think most of my trip looked like.
Excerpts from a long walk in the mountains this past weekend.

 As per my usual blog format:

All the photos are right here at the top for you visual people.

Down below all the photos are a few paragraphs in more detail about this  alpine experience.

What my desk sees right before one of these trips.

Rowan hiking in. This hiking part should be enough fun for most people.

We truly hoped these jumbo backpacks would help us cut a larger profile for cougar safety. What mine would probably do is flop me over backwards so the cat could more easily disembowel me.

Plants make good art. Josh Raleigh lets me know that this is Corn Lily.


Male Brook Trout. with attitude.

Closer up on another Brookie.

A Native Rainbow! Conjured up from the depths through use of spinning gear.

Native and Introduced Range of the Brook Trout. Which is actually a Char !

Although I am aware that it is illegal to use fishing to talk about other things in life ...

 I press on.

Hiking in to high lakes in the Cascade Range of Central Oregon.

     These overnight backpack-in to camp at alpine lakes trips are not for everyone.
Some of the gear can be pricey. And it was hard on the 7 year olds that we made carry the majority of our gear.

     The month of May in this area still means ultraclear snowmelt streams trickling 38 degree water into clear cold lakes.  Bald Eagles snatching trout from the waters surface. Very light black bear pressure and no other people save my friend Rowan are foolish enough to take 3 days off  to get cold, wet, huck gear and catch tons of pretty polka-dot trout. Somebody found occasion to use the phrase "up the yin yang".  I guess rightfully so.

Enter Brook Trout or "Brookies":

     These particular polka-dot trout out west here are actually Eastern Brook Trout.
Native to Appalachia and the Great Lakes. We white folks brought them here to the West generations ago - around 1900 -  and they have done quite well. Some say too well. What Brookies are good at is ganging up and blocking the larger native Rainbows and Cutthroat from prime feeding areas. When traveling with a fish biologist like Rowan - you get some inside info. What we saw this time of year - the Brook Trout controlled the edges of the lake -  the drop-offs in 6' of water.  Prime real estate in May at this elevation for insects and crayfish. Though we did catch a few big Rainbows and one native Cutt - we caught more than 90% Brookies. 
     So it seems at first glance that a fish so far from its home waters surviving and thriving to the point of dominating larger species is counterintuitive. But it is this cooperation of packs of Brook Trout that allow them to do this. Imagine intimidating teenagers keeping you from wanting to hit your favorite empanada place as often. kinda. So we did eat some of these allegedly invasive brookies. They were orange fleshed - possibly from eating crayfish? and of course really good.

     The list of Invasive Species we humans have aided in their legacy is long and varied: Horses, Norway Rat, Carp, Starlings, English Sparrows .... I imagine a child dumping his goldfish into a canal and setting feral goldfish in motion forever.
And even Crayfish cross county lines in GTO's going 140mph. all. the. freaking. time.

And I know:

     A small hole is created  in the universe every time a white person utters the words "invasive species".  That phrase should get sucked into a void when spoken.... but through some fluke of bullshit I am allowed to say it.  Out West here the cute and noble and mos def spunky Brook Trout is "Invasive".

     But...Roll Damn Brookies.

     So about the therapeutic camping:

 All you need to do to experience the beauty up there is get an expedition sized backpack, hiking boots, headlamp, tiny cook stove w fuel, smart wool everything, extra socks, rain shell, tarp, dry food, compass, map, toilet paper, sun hat, extra shoes, gloves, toothbrush n paste, sunglasses, dry bags, water filter, possibly fishing gear, camera, wilderness permit, and a lack of responsibility toward all the nice folks in your life.... for 3 days or so. 

     At present, I may be running away to nature to avoid human relationships.
But I still love you all.  Hiding in the profound to avoid the intimate.  Or maybe just running away from one profound thing toward another profound thing. Or sometimes I  just like it quiet. But lets not overthink it. :) These are indeed somewhat turbulent times but I am trying to make them fun times. 

     Before I close and run off to the end of the earth again... I want to give a nod to facebook. I understand aspects of it are evil... but it has helped me connect to folks I have lost touch with for 20 years and sometimes more. Call me if you want to talk. No don't - I think facebook is perfect for us right now.

Thanks for listening!


Hamm's is the beer refreshing

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