Sunday, September 18, 2011

A "I was almost a Headline on CNN" fishing trip.


I Should Have Known Better.....


Here is a story from the last time Blair Edwards and I went out together, and oldie but a goodie.

After watching programs like "I Should Not Be Alive", "Man vs. Wild", and "Never Again" for as long as I can remember Blair Edwards and I agree We should have known better. But the fishing was too good to care at the time.

Friday Night Blair Edwards and I decided to make a kamikaze trek up to the Sequoia National Park to explore a few new fishing spots. On its face we knew we were up for a grueling 24 hrs just because we were leaving late Friday, fish Saturday morning, pick up his trailer one hour away, head back up to fish the afternoon/evening and then drive back to Ventura County towing a trailer. If everything went to plan it was going to be rough, no matter what. to add to the heaping helping of fun we have never been to any of the places we were fishing, so the unknown was weighting heavy upon us.

After a late night of driving, discussions, food and refreshments we finally went to sleep about 2:30 or 3 am, not sure really when my phone and watch were in the cab of my truck. Jump 4ish hours later we were up with coffee and oatmeal brewing and stewing feeling a little wiped from the previous 12 hours events. We broke down camp and headed up Marble Creek for a few hours a fly fishing exploration. The beauty was for sure there, large boulders, small wandering stream, lots of poison oak, towering Oaks and Sycamore trees and medium sized trout to be had with minimal effort. Not great fishing, but good. Flash forward to 10am, "We should go." exclaims Blair as he casts into another pool trying to coax a Brook, Rainbow or Golden into a false meal of yarn, feathers and steel. 1015 am, "We really need to go!" declares Blair. So we say sure, and discuss the fastest way out of the canyon. This is the point of the day for me that we should have been taking cues from and would have saved us a larger headache later, but I digress lets finish Marble creek first.
We decided to see if we could find the trail above us, though neither of us had a map or even the slightest idea of where the trail was. So the bushwack begins, up-down, left-right, over and under, scratch, tear, poke, rattlesnake, and we should have just headed back down stream. But that would have been to easy.
Jump a few hours forward, we have been to Kingsburg, retrieved the trailer and an assortment of items for the Edwards kids and were headed back to the Sequoia National Park. We decided because of the heat to leave behind the waders and just wear shorts and wading boots only. Light and quick......our downfall. This is where the story becomes blog worthy.
To protect the spot from eager adventures I'll just say that we fished the Keweah River at the end of a dirt road. A little about the spot, there is no trail, no detailed info on the internet and absolutely no sign of human life of the river itself. It seems to only be frequented by bears, coyotes and small game, which is just the kind of place the gets me stoked to be outside.

So at the end of a nondescript dirt road we gear up,
Wading boots........................Check
Shorts.....................................Check
Thin Collard Shirt.................Check
Rod and Real.........................Check
Fly Box and minimal Gear..Check
CRKT Knife...........................Check
Unprepared for fishing
in late afternoon....................Priceless

Our only brief glimmer of wisdom was when Blair says, "Lets bring the map just in case." My reply "Ya sure, bring the topo." Everything our fathers, Backpacker Mag and Best Case Scenario game cards said were left there in the truck along with our better judgment at 330 pm in Western Sierra Nevada MOUNTAIN Range. We know the a creek is just ahead we we proceed to there, scurry down a few waterfalls, traverse a rock outcropping and eventually hit the river. Commence great fishing.

We proceeded to fish deep clear pools, short shallow rapid sections, sandy banks and I must say some of the most beautiful stretches of river I have walked in the Western Sierra's. Oh ya lot's of fish, wild Rainbows that are almost completely silver with black spots, sorry no pics left that in the truck as well. We know there were bear in the area because we found many areas were they have been taking bathroom breaks, usually on top of large boulders, weird honestly, but maybe they liked the view. So with bear, rattlesnake and the quickening of darkness on our minds we hit up the last hole on "The River". I will say that I was the one who caught the last fish, but the following events were no trophy for sure.

Lets set the scene,

Fade into two strapping young bucks who looked like the just walked out of a Patagonia catalog atop a towering waterfall. One looks like the ugly stepchild of a red-hard Grizzly Adams and the other a thrift store version of Bear Grylls with a beard. Dirt, grime, scrapes, thorns, stickers and bloody knuckles adorn them showing their dedication to the untouched river. The reality of their situation starts to set in. We are pretty far from our ride out of here and between us is a stretch of boulders and cliffs that we barely made it up. "So how are we going to get out?" we ponder. Enter the small glimmer of brilliance, the crude map. Upon studying the map and surrounding terrain we find the bend in the river that may be our ticket out of here and hopefully/prayfully prior to dinnertime for the bears and other large woodland creatures.



To the North of us is either 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile of steep terrain that is covered with thick trees and towering Sage. Our hope is a steep granite out cropping ahead about the same distance that we have already covered fishing (later verified via google earth this morning). We think that if we can get there before dark we have a chance to catch the trail that should be right above it. Commence the march through the river, up steep embankments, over boulders, through cracks, up more embankments when the river is impenetrable, back down them when the brush gets to thick, walk past more bear latrines then I cared to count and then to top off the trek, holding my rod in my mouth we wrap ourselves around a tree that rest 40ish feet about a waterfall to the base for the Granite out cropping. Of ya can't forget the fact that we walked along the top of the waterfall to get to the other side.
Passing our last bear nuggets we head up the hill in the quickly fading twilight, to our left what resembles the possible trail cutting the mountain side. Ahead of us steep rock littered with moss, slippery vegetation and the occasional yucca that seemed to find their way into our flesh very often on the accent. Our hike was becoming a death march of pain and blood with every foot we climbed. Did I mention that I had major knee surgery 2 months ago, no well that was feeling great to. Upon our arrival to the top of the rocks we are greeted with the largest game trail we have seen all day long. A thankful sight for sure because that meant we would be able to progress our way though dense undergrowth, but bad because we might come face to face with a ill tempered bear. As I became hung up for the thousandth time that day I hear a cry of victory from Blair and victory it was, the trail.
We reunited on the yellow brick road that was our ticket to water, food and safety. Darkness was nigh so after a quick exclamation of God provision in our journey we humped it back towards the trail head. We consistently let our presence be know to all the ne'er-do-wells of the animal kingdom through song, tribal grunts, loud conversation and movie quotes. If you haven't hiked though bear and rattler country in the dark before lets just say that it will test your nerves at times. To our great delight and we made it to the truck just as the last hint of light faded from the sky. The river fished, navigation skills tested, body worn we set out down the bumpy dirt road in search of a very large and very refillable glass of lemonade and piles of steaming barbecued meat to consume. Which we did.

Over diner we discussed our adventure, exhilorating, manly, dangerous, and very foolish. We are glad our fathers taught us how to be wise outdoors men and think on our feet, but we agreed that we should have been a little more prepared. But hey if we were then it would have been just another fishing trip and nothing more. Now we just need to drive home towing a trailer on 4ish hours of sleep and treking all day.....yawn.

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