Thoughts From the Wyoming Backcountry

Recently, upon reflecting after coming down from the mountains, I quickly realized that I may just be doing exactly what I am supposed to do in this world.

To back up, last year after talking with the owners of Two Rivers Fishing Co. we decided to come up with a plan to start our backcountry guided fly fishing trips in the Wind River Range. Part of that plan included myself, and later myself and a friend, doing extensive scouting to ensure any trip up there would go smoothly. This scouting project became a true passion to the point where my ONx map of the area looks like a drunken game of battleship misses. I wanted to be thorough. If a client was tired, I needed to know the next shade area. If a campsite was occupied, I needed a plan B and C, and lastly I needed to know where the good fishing was! One of the worst things on a backpacking trip is hearing “just over the hill” to which there is more and more hills to climb. That’s a bad look as a guide, so familiarization is key. After all of this planning, I found that the biggest issue with spending time in any area like that is you realize how much more there is to see–and how little time to see it.

With two different style trips on the books for Summer 2022, planning and logistics became the next “mountain to climb.” One of the trips was a backpacking progressive travel style trip, while the other was a horse pack in and basecamp trip.

The progressive travel trip, on foot with pack on back, is certainly one of my favorites. This particular trip was a father and son who wanted five days together before the son took off to college. This duo also was brand new to fly fishing and there is unlikely to be a better place to learn. With a fairly hearty push on our first day, there was not much fishing to be had–after all we are above 7000ft. From then on, however, the fishing was pretty extraordinary. We were able to tackle a few lakes where human presence was minimal and fish behavior reflected this absence. For total beginners to catch 20 plus fish a day on large dry flies, we were living in paradise. The icing on the cake for our travel was some of our trout dinners. The populations are healthy enough here where 1-2 fish for each of us to supplement our meal is quite sustainable. Not being in a fire ban this year, we were able to wrap the trout in tinfoil with a little bit of salt, pepper, and oil and roast them on coals. Good clean living if you ask me.

Having only 4 days in between before another 5 day stint, this horse packing trip seemed to carry a slightly larger plate of logistics than the former. Our next trip was to include a family of four and was a 70th birthday bucket list trip 2 years in the making that was haulted until now due to covid. A horse pack trip in means that we rode horses in with a mule train in tow carrying all of our gear. The upside to this is covering 14 miles with that kind of gear on foot is impossible. The downside is most folks, including myself, do not ride horses enough to still not be sore after. Horses also come with their own set of challenges, they get tired, sore, spooky, and are quite tall for the elderly to hop on. All of this experience was a great learning opportunity for future trips.

Confession, I love back country cooking and made this fairly apparent due to our menu for the week. Between steaks, chili, cornbread, burgers, and blueberry cobbler, I quickly became a fan of horsing it in. However, more gear means more planning and thankfully working with the shop we were able to cover all necessary gear. Between camp tables, chairs, cook tent, and cooking equipment we did not go without.

While these back country trips are custom tailored the customers needs, this particular trip was pretty relaxing, even for myself. The clients enjoyed slower mornings with coffee, afternoons of fishing and hiking, and evenings of whiskey and wine while watching me cook. I am not sure who was actually having more fun: myself or them.

In conclusion, these back country trips might just be the best way to spend the August month. Bugs are down in the backcountry, the hint of fall comes slightly earlier up there, and the fish have a vendetta with a fly. Not to mention time away from a busy world and phones is never a bad thing. If a trip like this interests you please get a hold of Two Rivers Fishing Co. in Pinedale, Wy or me, and we will get you taken care of!

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