Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Enjoy the great outdoors

July 03, 2019 | Local News

By Jim Kilpatrick

The Surveyor

My family and I have lived in many different states as I served in the U.S. Army for seven years. But since my first visit to Colorado my heart’s desire was to settle down here. We have lived in different locations in the state of Colorado for more than thirty years. Those years have given us the opportunity to explore this great state from the Four Corners, to Dinosaur National Monument, from Pawnee National Grasslands, to the Arkansas River basin, the Great Sand Dunes National Park, to Mesa Verde, and many awesome places in between.

Photo by Jim Kilpatrick – Lake Irene in Rocky Mountain National Park

Being close to nature must be in my blood. I really like all different types of activities that take us outside and enable us to experience new places, things, and people. I was born in Western North Carolina and my strongest passion is fl y- fishing. It is not because I don’t like other ways of fishing, but I picked up a fl y rod 40 years ago and it just became part of me. Fly-fishing has taken me all over America to awesome places in order to catch some of the most beautiful fish you could imagine. My adventures have led me to want to share fl y-fishing with others. At one point I became a fl y-fishing instructor and guide. I remain an avid native trout hunter.

When a friend from the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor asked if I would be willing to write a column about the great outdoors I jumped at this opportunity. In this column I will be sharing some of our experiences while traveling around the state. One thing I constantly do is research new waters to fish, the types of fish found there, and what they are hitting on. I will let you know some of what I find along the way.  

I’ll include occasionally what I call a “Check This Out” hint which will include seasonal places and activities you can go in that area I am writing about. In this, I hope to challenge you to think outside the box and go try new things. When you get out to experience the beautiful scenery and try some different things out, one of the added bonuses is meeting new people and sharing stories with each other. 

Photo by Jim Kilpatrick – Big horn grazing along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

In 1974 we took a vacation with another couple and their children from Lawton, Ok., to Rocky Mountain National Park. We were young with an 18-month-old and we tent camped for our first time in Colorado. Early that morning, there were clear blue skies and a limited forecast of good weather all day. So, we spent the day traveling over Trail Ridge Road to the west side of the park. It was our first time to see snow lingering in June and drive up 12,183 feet in elevation.

We were incredulous at a massive bull elk in velvet at Poudre Lake and several bighorns on the rock outcrops at Milner Pass. Such amazing sights for these young Easterners. The day passed with the occasional dark cloud, but we saw no rain on the west side of the park. Toward late afternoon we arrived back in camp at Glacier Basin Campground. While we were gone a heavy isolated downpour created havoc in the campground. The water marks on the side of our tent showed the water that ran off through the campground was a foot-and-a-half deep. Sadly, when we unzipped the tent door, we found the water had washed everything to one side of the tent and naturally it was all wet.

Here we were two young families with small children and all our clothing and bedding were soaked. Some other campers nearby came over to tell us of the freak flood that came through and then offered to help us. With their kind help, we got everything out of the tents, rung out, and hung up on ropes strung between trees. I cannot remember how we made it through that night, but these kind people offered to help us with dinner and made sure we could start the wet camp stove and lantern before they left. That is a great example of what’s right with mankind. Most campers are great people.

I encourage you to drive up Trail Ridge Road, especially if you have not. We find most drivers are patient with the slower drivers on it. There are many pullovers to stop and let drivers pass, take a breath, and take in the vistas. A friend from England visited with us and remarked that the road looked like it could be in the Alps. I’ve never been there, but I proudly say it rivals the Alps. One easy short venture off Trail Ridge on the west side is an exit to Lake Irene trailhead. It is less than one mile from the parking lot, an easy walk, and there are picnic tables around this serene mountain lake. It is partially handicap accessible. Many people just pass that one by. Check it out.

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