So ever since I rode the mountain bike park at Whistler a few years ago let’s just say that I have not been excited at all about mountain biking here on the trails in the Twin Cities. Besides a bit of a falling out with a local biking club I just lost a little bit of interest. I have never been a biking fanatic like some people are. I like biking but I don’t love it, I find it enjoyable enough but ever since Whistler biking in the cities seems lame. People have asked me, “But you ski out west and ski here, what’s the difference?” Easy the difference is I enjoy skiing more than biking. I have toyed with the idea for the last year or so of buying a winter bike and giving it a try. I love winter, I would rather be cold than hot. So because of that I enjoy being outside in the winter. Anyway, I bought a Surly Pugsley a few weeks ago. Melissa got one as well. We picked them up a week or so ago and took them out for a test spin at Lebanon Hills before we got any snow which at the time didn’t appear that it was going to be anytime soon… They were fun to ride, huge fat tires rolled nice and they were pretty fun to just ride… Hmmm maybe this will spark my interest again. There was a little frustration getting going, the Pugsleys are huge bikes so they didn’t fit on our bike rack so we had to buy a new one, so that stunk but all in all that wasn’t a real big deal just an added expense that made me mad.
Yesterday Melissa and I woke up to about 5 inches of snow on the ground. I looked at her and said lets go to Lebanon and try out our new bikes in the snow. She agreed with a fairly large smile on her face, so we got dressed quick and headed out. We packed up and headed over to Lebanon Hills. When we arrived at the parking lot there were 4 other cars in the lot and it appeared as though other people had been out riding already, I could see tire tracks off into the woods on the trail. We took our bikes off the rack, saddled up and headed out. The first couple of pedals in the untracked snow and my smile started to form. The crunch of the fresh snow under my tires reminded me of skiing first tracks in Big Sky and that same sound. Melissa hopped on her bike and off we went into the woods. The “beginner” loop at Lebanon is a little over a mile long and it appeared like I said, a few people had ridden already. The trail was about 12” wide and was nicely packed. I was surprised how easy it was to ride on; I guess I had visions of sliding all over hell and back and it not being fun at all. So far I was completely wrong. The trail through the woods was beautiful, snow clung to the tree limbs and it made for a lovely ride. We headed out of the woods and the snow got a little deeper, but Pugsley was handling the deeper powder just fine. The grin on my face was at its peak, OK I get the hype. I admit it, winter biking is FUN! I love my new bike a lot. Melissa and I did a lap and a half at Lebanon, we stayed on the beginner loop the whole time mostly because we wanted to get the feel for winter biking and we were under a bit of a time constraint. After our ride in the woods we did a few laps in the snow covered parking lot, loaded up the bikes and headed for home. Melissa had a wonderful time as well, we both enjoyed our ride. We spent the afternoon talking about how much fun we had and how we both couldn’t wait to go again.
Now I am working out some issues, I am learning how to dress for winter riding. You really work up a sweat so you don't need to dress really as warm as you might think. So I am working on that issue. Also I didn’t wear a helmet riding yesterday. I am really trying to decide what to do there. I understand the importance of wearing a bike helmet in the summer but I am not sure if I get it for winter riding. I think I topped out at a whopping 10 miles an hour yesterday while riding and most of the time I was going pretty damn slow. While I know freak things can happen, I just don’t know. Honestly I would just rather wear my stocking hat. So that saga will continue I am sure.
The lights are charging right now at home and we are heading over to Lebanon again after work tonight to give it another go. I am hoping Melissa wants to do the full intermediate loop but I guess I will be fine with anything.
Thanks Pugsley, you have returned some life to my Minnesota riding… While it is still mostly on life support it is something none the less.
This blog is currently off line while I try to reach 100 followers on twitter! At last count I was at 95. Please follow me @eaphilipp I talk about nonsense, fly fishing, work stuff and sports. Nothing to exciting but once and a while I have some whimsy.
Hopefully this blog outage will not last long.
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Melissa and I just got back from Colorado last week and guess what? We have airline tickets and a cabin booked for late September to head back. Sad, I know but hey we both love it there so life is good. More on this later.
The trip was amazing; we had just a wonderful time. We spend 7 nights at the lodge at Cordillera which we love! This time was no exception. While we were there Melissa took the Orvis 2 day fly fishing class taught by my buddy Jeff and rocked it out. She is really becoming an excellent fly fisherman. She is getting her casting stroke down and really getting into the sport. After the class Melissa and I spend the rest of the time fishing and relaxing. We fished the Frying Pan River in the Basalt area twice, the Yampa at Stagecoach once, the Eagle and few times and at the tail end of our trip spent 3 days on the Blue River while we were in Silverthorne, our other favorite spot. Melissa caught fish on every river we fished. I was very proud of her. And I think the biggest fish of the trip goes to her as well. She got a VERY nice Rainbow out of the Yampa River which I think was bigger than the very nice Rainbow that I got out of the Blue River. She also got a fish on the Eagle where I did not. All in all the fishing was amazing, it was a little slow at times but when you consider the surroundings and the beauty of the rivers it is just an awesome place to fish. My favorite spot was the Frying Pan River. I love that water, while it is a busy place and there are anglers all over it has the spiritual sense about it. It is Gold Medal water so you just very know what you are going to get out of there, a 6” trout or a 20+ pound trout. One thing is for sure there are fish everywhere and they are fun to watch. I enjoy watching the fish swim around almost as much as I enjoy catching them. So I could stand in the river all dang day and just watch the fish around me. Each time on the Pan we staked out a nice area and fished a nice run and then had a nice picnic lunch, it was an awesome way to spend the days fishing. I was able to catch all of my fish this trip on dry flies, so that made it extra special to me.
I also was able to get my Tenkara rod out and do some Tenkara style fishing out there as well. I fish my Tenkara on the Blue River on the next to the last day when I was letting my boots and waders dry. I was able to catch 5 small Rainbows using my Tenkara rod. It was really exciting for me. I enjoy Tenkara fishing very much and the more I do it the more I like it. Here in Minnesota I am doing more and more Tenkara fishing. It is just a super fun way to fish.
Anyway back to our Colorado recap. Besides fishing we relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company, we dreamed about winning the lottery and relocating to Colorado. We do this every time we are there and it is really a fun way to pass the time. Dreaming of a beautiful home in the mountains. We also went to a wedding up at A-Basin that turned out to be one of the best weddings I had ever been to. This was a friend of Melissa’s that was married and besides taking the ski lift up to the ceremony site, everything was really top notch. The food was amazing as was the view and the people that we hung out with. It was a super fun night.
The trip was 11 days long which was awesome; it was the right amount of time to completely forget about work and to truly wrap ourselves in the mountains of Colorado.
During our fishing trip to the Frying Pan we discovered some little cabins that are across the street from the Pan, I check into them, they are awesome, we found cheap airfare and are headed back for a semi –long weekend at the end of September. I am super excited to go.
So I have become a more and more addicted to flyfishing, I always loved it but now it is becoming more and more of an obsession. While I am also doing a lot of fishing I have also started tying more and more flies. I love it, while I am not very good at it, I have tied a few flies that have actually caught some fish, so I am either doing something sort of right or I am catching the really dumb fish. Most likely the later. I also joined the St Paul Fly Tiers Club this April and have been going to the Thursday night meetings regularly. It is a great bunch of guys. I have progressed a lot in my tying by watching the other members of the club and also just by tying a little more than I had before. Either way it has been great! The club meets Thursday nights at a bar in St Paul, we meet in an upstairs meeting room packed with tables, everyone just sits around, ties flies and chats, and it is great! The club also has regular fishing outings to different locations around the area. I went to my first outing this past weekend. It was on the Rush River in Wisconsin which I have a serious love/hate relationship with. I don’t know the river very well and it seems that every time I go there I don’t catching anything, most likely because I am in the wrong spot. Oh well, maybe I will figure it out soon. Anyway the outing was fun, I went fishing by myself for a while on Sunday morning, I didn’t know where the other club members were. No biggie, I fished for about 2 hours and then meet everyone at a park by the Rush River for a nice cook out. It was a great time, the food and the company were great. Like I said it is a great group of guys. After lunch I gave my new Tenkara Ayu rod a go, it is a Japanese style of fly fishing that incorporates a very long rod, line, tippet, fly and no reel. I managed to hook a few fish, but I lost them all before I could land them. It is tricky landing a fighting fish with no reel, but it will come with a bit of practice. Side note, I did finally land a fish Tuesday night on my Tenkara rod! So I think I have it figured out now. Yay! Anyway long story short, I am so glad I joined the club! I hope to make some friends that might want to go fishing with me at times beyond the club outings.
Melissa and I were out in Silverthorne Colorado over Memorial Day weekend. We had a blast. The weather was perfect, even the snow flurries on Sunday were nice to see. Melissa and I had a couple of great days fishing, we meet up with my buddy Jeff Lyon whom works for Orvis and he took us out to a couple of spots on the Eagle River west of Avon Colorado and a couple other spots. I caught a very nice brown trout on a pheasant tail nymph on the Eagle; it was great because it was my first fish from the Eagle. I had, had a number of them hooked before but they were always crafty and able to get off before I could land them. We also had a nice but very windy day up on the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs. The fishing up there was really fun; Melissa caught her first big fish up there. She landed a very nice Rainbow. I think she enjoyed herself fishing. Besides fishing we also enjoyed our time in the mountains. We love it out there and can’t wait to get back in mid-July.
Last night was a very fun night out on the river. I headed over to the Kinnikinnic to a semi-secret spot that a buddy of mine gave me a map to and told me to meet him there. I was looking forward to getting out because I guessed the dry fly action would be good and there would be fish to be caught on the dry. Once I arrived at the spot parked my car, geared up and made the walk into the spot I found my buddy and surveyed the area. “Cool Spot!” I said to my friend, he agreed. He is a new fly fisherman so it has been fun to hang out together, I have been able to teach him a few things along the way and I think they have been helpful so that is fun for me. Anyway, I rigged my rod and took a moment to look at the river and see what the river was telling me to use. There was a lot of insect activity in the air and it appeared that the Caddis flies were finally hatching in some numbers.
There were not a lot of rises but enough that I went straight for my dry box. I tied on a size 18 orange stimulator and made my first cast, perfect spot right at the edge of the seam, had a very nice drift but no takes. I made about 8 more casts varying my locations and finally my first take. After a short fight I had my first fish in the net, a small but feisty brown trout. I unhooked him said goodbye and put him back and decided to change flies. This time I picked a size 18 Parachute Adams. I have great luck with that fly on the Kinni and I figured tonight would be no different. Once again I made some casts and was getting a few more swipes, but no good takes. I moved around a bit on the run and tried different areas and different angles for casting. Had a nice drift going when splash, a nice take. This next fish was a little bigger and we had a nice struggle to the net. Once again another nice Kinni Brown was in the net. We said our hello’s although I am guess he was not really happy with me, but as I do with all of the fish I catch, I said hello, thank him for the fight and told him to get back out there and get bigger. They seem to like that last part. He swam away, I am sure freaked out by getting the crap beat out of him by what he thought was dinner, but I am sure he went right back to eating…
I walked downstream a ways and worked the riffles with a small Caddis fly, the Caddis were indeed hatching and there were a lot of them fluttering about. The trout were rising more and more but they were indeed a bit picky, there were looking for a certain size for sure. But half the fun of fly fishing to me is figuring that part out. I made a number of casts with my newly tied on caddis fly but had no takes at all. So I deciding to throw on a wet fly and do some swinging. I was hoping to entice those trout feeding on the emerging insects. I had a few hits but either I missed the hook sets or they didn’t take the fly very well. I will go with the later idea, but it was a fun effort. I don’t do a lot of wet fly swinging so it was interesting to try. I am for sure going to pick up some more wet flies and put that in my back pocket as something to try once and awhile. While I was casting my wet fly I noticed the hatching caddis were getting bigger and there were a lot more of them. So it was time to return to a dry fly. I tied on a tan elk hair caddis and started casting. First cast, huge splash, sadly no fish. But I knew that there would be more. Second cast, my fly was right next to a real fly, guess which one the fish took? Right! He took the real one. It was pretty sweet to see though. I had some perfect drifts going and action all around but nothing hooked. I made a cast and had a good swipe at my fly, and at the same time my buddy said that he was going to call it a night and I said ok, that I would as well because I was not sure I could find my way out in the dusk. So I said, "one more cast", I threw my fly back in the same area as the strike I just had and sure enough, strike and fish on. How often does that happen? One more cast, catch a fish, it was sweet. After a nice little fight I had in the net a very feisty little Brook trout. It was very exciting to me, I hadn’t caught a Brook trout before so it was neat to finally have one in the net. He was pretty, nice coloring, and just a shade under 10” long. We exchanged hellos, took a photo or 2 together and said our goodbyes. He swam happily away and I walked away from the river through small clouds of caddis with a big smile on my face. I can’t wait to get back to that spot.
For the life of me I don’t know where the time goes. I try to blog and get in the mind set of blogging a couple times a week and then it always happens I stop. I really enjoy blogging but things get in the way. Anyway… A lot is going on. Melissa and I went on a cruise this February, it was Melissa’s first cruise and let me just say she loved it! In fact she loved it so much that we have 2 more booked for 2013. On our past cruise we did the standard western Caribbean run, which started in Miami, went to the Bahamas’, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel Mexico. The weather was perfect and we had a wonderful time. Melissa is so damn fun to travel with; we really relaxed on the cruise which was so nice. We lounged around when on the ship, ate some great food and just enjoyed our time in the sun. We did some great snorkeling in Grand Cayman. We had a nice beach day in both Cozumel and the Bahamas’. We even tried stand up paddle boarding in Cozumel. We both were able to do it pretty well; it was a lot of fun. I have been on a number of cruises, but hadn’t been for quite a while; it was nice to go again and to remember just how much fun they really are. We are headed back to the Caribbean next March and then to Alaska in July of 2013. I can’t wait! I have always wanted to do an Alaskan cruise so that is going to be an awesome trip. We have balcony rooms for both trips, which will be interesting. I have never had a balcony room on a ship so I am excited to give it a try.
I was a little bummed that we didn’t get back skiing in Montana this year and it turned out that the snow gods would have given us fresh snow to play in while we were there but I will say it was a nice change of pace to go on that cruise. I had forgotten how beautiful the Caribbean Sea is. It is a blue like you have never seen before.
We have a lot of travel plans going right now. And all of them I am excited for. We are headed to Colorado over Memorial Day weekend. I think we are going to be staying in the Silverthorne area but I am not 100% sure yet. Either way we are going to get some fly fishing in and relax in the mountains. I am looking forward to get out there. Then our big summer trip is back to Colorado. We are headed back to Cordillera; Melissa is taking the Orvis fly fishing class out there. I am so excited for her to take the class; I think she will really enjoy it. I am glad she is getting an interest in fly fishing; it will give us something else that we can do together. I took her out for her first fishing trip last week or to the Kinni in River Falls Wisconsin, she did great, she caught her first trout on a fly. It was exciting. Plus I think it really got her into the idea of learning more about fly fishing. I think she will do great in the class and she will become an excellent fly fisher.
With the lack of a winter that we had here in Minnesota which I will add was very odd, most of the lakes are ice free and the temperature has already been above 80 a couple times and it is only March, I have been out fishing quite a few times already and the fishing has been good. I have done really well nymph fishing and the best part of it is, almost all of the fish I have caught so far are on flies I have tied myself. Which makes it even sweeter; I apparently tie a good enough zebra midge to fool even the smartest trout.
I am looking forward to working on my skills as an angler and becoming a better fisherman this year. The couple of cruises that we have planned for next year have some interesting possibilities for fishing built into them. Being in Belize is one, some of the best bonefishing in the world is done there and I found a place that will do a day trip out to the flats for a day of fishing. And also there is a flyfishing trip on the Alaskan cruise that I am very interested in.
These are things that are always going through my head. What to do next, why and how…