Hiking, Camping, and Fishing The Brainard Lake Recreation Area - Boulder, Colorado
2020 obviously got off to a different start than anticipated. Just about everything came to a halt in Colorado in the beginning of March. I had planned on taking my first camping trip of the year over the first weekend in April.
Even after a gloomy March of "quarantining" and a fresh six-inches of snow, I was not going to let anything change my plans. The first weekend of April 2020, John, his roommate Chris, and I Chris set out for St. Vrain Creek inside the Brainard Lake Recreation Area to camp and fly fish for the weekend.
We left Denver around 6 a.m. and were in the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest, at the Gateway Trailhead parking lot, before 8 a.m. We checked out the map at the ranger station and decided to take the Sourdough Trail north until it crossed the creek and a perpendicular trail.
It was only about a mile and a half walk from the car to the trail's intersection, but the freshly fallen powder made the trek more difficult than usual. Luckily, I had my snowshoes and was able to clear a path for the boys to follow safely.
We only saw one other person on the trail that morning, and once they passed us, we never saw anyone for the entire weekend. It was just us and our dog Maria alone in the quiet winter wonderland.
It took us about an hour to reach St Vrain Creek. We crossed the bridge over the creek and headed east onto the St Vrain Creek Trail. Right away, we began looking for a place to pitch our tents.
The off-trail snow between trees was much deeper and softer. This made searching for a spot even more difficult.
Fortunately, we didn't have to search long, because we found a nice, flat area perfect for two tents and a fire pit about two-tenths of a mile off the trail.
Since it was still so early in the morning, we were able to get our campsite set up just the way we wanted it. We set up our tents, dug out a fire pit, and gathered our wood supply before getting our day of fishing started.
By noon, we were able to tie on our flies and drop our lines in the creek below us. Most of the creek was frozen over, but there were pockets of open water that we were able to cast into. We knew that the temperature of the water would be a factor from the start, but we still had hope for bites.
We all had our lines in the water close to camp for a while without any luck, before we started to venture apart. We each had a radio to help us communicate with each other. When I ended up finding a big, open pool about a half mile up the creek, I quickly radioed them both to come down and try their flies.
We spent a few hours casting into this spectacular pool, but sadly, it did not provide us with any fish or even any bites for that matter. It was all okay, because the views were perfect and the sunshine felt glorious. We eventually worked our way back to camp and got ourselves and our clothes dried out from the day of hiking and fishing.
We started our campfire and warmed our extremities just before the sun crept behind the mountains. It was blazing just in time for us to eat some of the meals we had prepared. John and I cooked a Good To-Go dehydrated meal of Three Bean Chili while Chris enjoyed some homemade rice and beans over the fire. We all had marshmallows for dessert, because I forgot the rest of the s'mores ingredients. Soon after, we called it an early night when the darkness rolled in.
The cold seemed to have gotten to each of us during the night, and none of us slept great. This meant we were all up pretty early ready to start the day. The first thing we wanted to do was go fishing. We wanted to explore downstream and see if we could find more open holes.
We walked as far as we could throwing lines in all of the small holes along the way, until we were approaching private property. We never found a spot like the one from the day before, so we slowly walked back up to camp to go try that same spot again.
We made it back to camp and cooked up a late breakfast. John and I used our MSR PocketRocket and our Jetboil Jetpower 8.11 ounce fuel canister to boil water for another dehydrated meal. We had drank the last of the water we carried in, so we filtered some fresh creek water through our LifeStraw Flex gravity bag system.
After the water filtered, I boiled and poured it into our Alpine Air Southwestern Style Masa with Beef. The directions said to wait 10-12 minutes, so we took that time to start tearing down camp and packing up all of our gear.
Once lunch was ready and our backpacks were packed, we found a nice place to enjoy our food and soak in the views one last time. We quickly decided we'd rather be fishing, and we started out to hit our fishing hole from the day before.
We left our packed bags at the top of the cliff overlooking the hole. After our last climb down, we fished for another hour or so without a single bite. Even without a bite, our time fishing couldn't have been much more satisfying. Even so, we knew the hike out would be mostly uphill and decided to start making our way.
The walk back didn't take nearly as long as the walk in did. Our footsteps were still in the snow, so we didn't have to forge our way back up. It was a steep, uphill walk, but it was short and full of beautiful scenery. Before we knew it, we were back at the car.
It was a very quick two-day trip, but it was a perfectly successful first trip of the spring!
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Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.