|Morning on the Flat Tops|
North Derby Creek was close enough to be very loud at my campsite. I hiked to the creek and quickly started catching many trout using a #14 "Craig's Caddis". Most were very small brook trout.
|North Derby brookie|
But there'd occasionally be a 10-12" fish. Cutthroats would appear about every 8th fish and most were exceptionally small, accept for one 10 incher.
|North Derby cutthroat|
I decided that I would stay another night in this area feeling that a full recuperation was in order. After eating, I hiked to a small lake that was just up the hill from me called Road Lake. It appeared shallow and fish-less, likely freezing to the bottom in winter.
I returned to camp and geared up for a day of fishing my way up Derby Creek. Other than a few red ants that snuck into my untucked shirt during a Clif Bar break, it was a blast. By early afternoon I estimate around 50 fish to hand.
|Nice brook trout|
That night I wore all of my clothes at once to try and combat the night's chill.
I awoke in the predawn from the best sleep so far and decided that wearing all my clothes simultaneously was the way to go at night. After the sun started to warm things, I broke camp and assembled my pack in a way that seemed more balanced than before, moving the sleeping pad to the outside by using the bungie cord I found the day before.
My goal was to make it to another juncture in the trail. There would be good fishing and camping there. The map showed only moderate elevation changes but the hike started with a formidable hill. Sweat quickly covered me under the hot sun with only an occasional breeze or cloud.
Thirty minutes into the hike the trail leveled off and revealed epic vistas to the south of distant mountain ranges and nearby cliffs.
In order to get hints of my progress, I watched for landmarks such as creek crossings and lakes. But there seemed to be some conflicts with what I saw and what was on the map causing me at times to wonder if I had gotten on the wrong path. The path itself, usually a narrow rut, would sometimes disappear then reappear in different places.
|Trail with a cairn marking the entrance into the woods|
|Forested section of the trail|
|Mirror Lake area|
|Looking across the valley|
The scenery was unforgettable. The creek twisted and turned, cutting a winding path though the tall undulating grasses on its banks.
|Valley below my camp site|
I counted 17 fish in 2 hours. Now I wanted a few fish for dinner but needed to return to camp and retrieve my creel and knife. By the time I got back down to the creek, dark clouds were appearing over the valley and thunder could now be heard. The thunder sounded terrifying once it got loud, echoing off the cliffs and mountains surrounding me.
The weather cleared up during the last hour of daylight and I went on a stroll around the area. Wisps of clouds clung to the valley's sides and the surrounding mountains. As the sun set, a pink light turned some of the clouds into pink cotton candy. No large wildlife was spotted.