A Bar A Ranch road
I just got back from a quick trip up to Colorado and Wyoming. It was great to trade the humid swamps for sagebrush and mountains even if only for five days. Coming onto the A Bar A Ranch property felt a lot like coming home: familiar faces, beautiful landscapes, and endless food. I took full advantage of their salad bar, and I don’t mean the leafy green part, I’m talking about the bottomless vat of ranch. That’s right, it went on my pizzas, fries, tomatoes, baked potatoes, and I might have even put some on my bagels. The A-A, in more ways than just dressing, is a perfect example of wonderful excess.
Moonlight on the North Platte River
The 13 miles of private stream and river, 250,00 acres of undeveloped land, 120 horses, herds of big horn sheep, mule deer, monster trout, and energetic people (from the South) have me on constant sensory overload.
Hannah Dillard holds the seine while Benjy Duke kicks up rocks where invertebrates hide
The first day, Hannah and I headed out with one of the head fishing guides and biolgist, Benjy Duke, to do some sampling at the sister ranches: Big Creek and State Line.
Benjy examines the seine
Crane flies larva and leeches... mmm...
Benjy is working on gathering data on the invertebrates and dissolved oxygen content of the water along different stretches of the North Platte River, Big Creek, Savage Creek, and Mullen Creek. The purpose is to better understand the feeding cycles of the trout and using the invertebrates as indicators for water quality, determine the overall health of the system. We got to exchange ideas and methods, as his studies are the mountainous freshwater versions of mine down in the Keys.
View from State Line Ranch with Benjy and Hannah with the Sierra Madres in the background
In my two years of working at the A-A, I never took the chance to explore the other properties so this particular trip was a big bonus for me.
Head guide Patrick Sheehy ties on a fly on the North Platte River
Benjy poses with his cutbow trout which he caught off a nymph
The following days seemed to blend together in a whirlwind of flyfishing, horseback riding, and hiking while we desperately attempted to cram every behemoth activity into our little compactable weekend. Up at dawn, to sleep by 2, rinse, and repeat. Well, maybe not so much the rinse part.
Monday morning jingle
Spencer Hirst, atop Dundee, brings in horses from pasture
I have missed the smell of horses, the tug of a fly line, the reclusiveness of no cell phones, and the crisp Wyoming breeze that nibbles at a sweaty neck. Life out here moves at a much different pace, no matter how much I rushed around gathering it all up to put in my camera. Still, you can’t blame me for trying.
My last trout of the summer, a great note to end on.