The Season’s Last Adventure in the Never Summer Range
As the days start to get shorter, a sense of urgency ensues. A cool breeze reminds of what's to come. So, what to do with a day off? Go riding? Go fishing? How about both? Let's harness our inner Deion Sanders and be multi-sport athletes for the day! Mike and I decided to head up the Poudre Canyon into the Never Summer mountain range, packed with bikes, fishing gear, and a day free of worries.
When your garage is full of bikes, how do you pick just one?! Knowing we were in for a steep climb—and at an altitude of around 11,000 feet—bike weight and pedaling efficiency were at the top of the list. The RKT 9 RDO was an easy choice. The RKT is as efficient as possible; the perfect mix of climbing capability and downhill shredability. While the rear suspension has 100mm of travel, we were both sporting 120mm forks for a bit more confidence descending the loose, rocky trails. Flat pedals meant we didn’t need to pack a second set of shoes for fishing—it’s not real fun hiking around with stiff and slippery clipless pedal shoes.
Fly fishing alpine lakes in Colorado is an experience all by itself. Being able to combine it with mountain biking was small slice of heaven. We chose smaller 6-piece rods instead of the normal 4-piece rods because they they fit nicely in our Topo Designs’ hip packs. Perfect for high mountain activities! Topo is a Fort Collins/Denver based company that shares our same mantra about living life outdoors. I opted for their small Mountain Hip Pack that came with the Redington fishing kit. Mike went with their larger 28L Mountain Pack to carry my rain jacket and beers, as any true friend should.
After loading up the bikes, fly rods, and reels, we headed up the canyon for the day's adventure. Mountain weather can be unpredictable, but we got lucky with a gorgeously sunny day. The climb up was mostly singletrack with some steep and loose sections early on that will really test your fitness. We cruised right up, stopping for some photos and to take in the scenery along the way, but always with that bit of anxiousness tugging at us to get to the top. Near the top we spotted a pair of bull moose that were peacefully grazing just below tree line.
This trail is only about a 10-mile out-and-back, and tops out at a pair of small alpine lakes. There are options to continue climbing up to a third, larger lake, or a short detour to Thunder Pass for a glimpse at the epic skyline of Rocky Mountain National Park. With the 1,700 feet of climbing at high altitude with our gear packs, we were happy to be pedaling the super lightweight RKT 9 RDO. I didn’t even notice the Topo Hip Pack at all, climbing or descending. It was the perfect setup!
As we popped up just above tree line, there sat the pristine high mountain lakes, packed with native Greenback Cutthroat trout. The urgency continued as we dropped our riding gear and raced to rig up the fly rods. With barely any wind, both sides of the lakes were in play. We strategized on the best spot to start casting while cracking open one of the trail beers that Mike hauled in his pack. Does life get better than this? Mike hiked over to the southern side of the first lake—hooking up with a small trout pretty quickly. A minute later, I had my first two bites pop off across from him on the opposite bank.
Time got away from us while we worked our way around the lakes. While we did manage to land (and safely release) a half-dozen Greenbacks each, it was time hit the descent back down to the truck. Back to the real world. There was many a hoot-and-holler as we raced our RKTs like they we were World Cup downhillers. We survived and the bikes never complained. The drive back to town was spent reveling in the day's successes, sharing fish stories, and debating over who caught the biggest fish.