Thursday, June 17, 2010


Three items to talk about.

From SUMC Youth Blog

While it may seem that I spend all my time tromping around the state fishing, I have other responsibilities. When I'm not working in Queen Anne, I'm often volunteering at Snoqualmie United Methodist as a Youth Leader. I write about it at my other blog (see here). In a few weeks we're taking some of the kids on a mission trip to Camp Twinlow in Idaho. Not ALL of these kids but about 7 of them. The camp is on a lake, so I intend to take my flyrod with me and catch some fish.

From 2010 Hiking and Camping

Cameras again. Since I wrote about cameras in December, I have purchased AND LOST another digital camera. It was another Nikon Coolpix, this time the L22. As much as I liked the L10, I didn't care for the L22; bulky, slow, confusing interface. I feel like an idiot, but I need another camera to take on the Mission trip. So tonight I picked up, at Costco, the Fuji XP 10 for $140. Normally I don't care for Fuji cameras, but the price was right and its Waterproof and Shockproof. If I can hold on to this one, I'll be posting a lot of pictures from it!

Last thing. I've turned on Comments for the blog. As of this writing, anyone can post any comment, so fire away!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Northwest Sportsman Article

If you spend much time fishing in solitude in the Pacific Northwest, you will find yourself setting down your rod, picking up your camera and taking a photograph of the beautiful landscape before you. The impulse to do this comes for a desire to capture the light on the mountains, or the interesting way the mist shrouds the forest or the way the water looks metallic in the later afternoon.

I have dozens and dozens of photos like that. Recently, Andy Walgamott, a journalist with the magazine Northwest Sportsman, asked me for a photo from the Hancock Timber Area. I didn't have any "glory" shots to give him but I did send him a landscape photo that I had taken from at McLeod lake, when a passing cloud make an interesting shadow across the side of the mountain range. In fact, its this photo from my earlier report on McLeod Lake.

Fly Fishing from Snoqualmie

I didn't think he'd use it for his artcile but he did! He sent me a couple of copies of the magazine and let me tell you, I like his writing! Pick up a copy of June's Northwest Sportsman and read Andy's article! Look for it on page 44, with a photo credit for yours truly.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dirty Harry's Balcony

Panorama, click to enlarge
I heard on the news that this spring has been the coldest, wettest spring for 20 years. While waiting for the weather to clear and the snow to melt, I've been trying to keep in shape with some hikes here and there. This is one of those hikes.

I'd read about Dirty Harry's Balcony a few times over the years. It's not a well-documented hike and of all the guidebooks I own (and that's a LOT), only two of them mention it. One of the recent ones is 55 Hikes near Snoqualmie Pass, another one of Harvey Manning's compendiums. Buy it for a song on Amazon.

Casey and I stopped at Trucktown at Exit 34 for some trucker food. Kids eat free on Saturdays and Sundays right now, so Casey ordered some chicken fingers. He wasn't hungry so we got it to go and I put the fried chicken it in my pack. We continued 5 minutes up I-90 and to exit 38, crossed the river and parked our car at the unmarked trailhead.

Beautiful Balcony

The hike itself is only 2 miles; an easy grade on an old logging road-gone trail. At an ancient milk jug, turn right through some trees and break out onto the SPECTACULAR balcony. The rocky point exposed 180 degrees of cliff facing east. The cliff was 200 feet down at least. I set our backpack down and told Casey he could not approach closer to the edge than that (about 8 feet). We took some great pictures, some of which I've put into a panorama at the top of this entry.

From 2010 Hiking and Camping

There was another father-and-son at the balcony (like us, but 20 years older each) with a golden retriever. The dog sat right next to Casey and Casey munched on the fried chicken from Trucktown. Without warning, and for reasons that are unclear even now, Casey just tossed the fried chicken up into the air out over the cliff. The dog was on its feet immediately, running.

As the fried chicken left Casey's hand and arced off the cliff, three things happened simultaneously.

  1. The dog launched itself for its final leap into oblivion.
  2. I jumped up and yelled something unintelligible.
  3. The long leash that held the dog to a tree went tight, pulling it back.
Crisis averted! But I gave Casey a good yelling at anyway. "You've got to THINK before you do stuff, Casey! Etc, etc, etc." But its kinda funny now looking back on it.

If you go, be careful at the top!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Coldwater Lake at Mt St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

My wonderful, older sister Patti agreed to sit Casey for a weekend. It gives us a great gift but also Casey gets to cultivate his relationship with Patti, Vick and Hannah and her beau, Travis Waldmer. We dropped Casey off at her place and stayed long enough to have some of Vick's amazing BBQ chicken for dinner! Then we hit the road and drove the truck down to Kelso, where we stayed at the Red Lion.

Looking Good, the weather I mean!

We woke to FANTASTIC weather and had breakfast at the local Denny's before hitting the road for the drive to Coldwater Lake. The drive takes only 60 minutes but it seems like all day as you climb slowly up into the mountains and eventually into the blast zone and finally arrive at Mt St. Helens National Park and then the boat launch to Coldwater Lake.

The Launch

Coldwater Lake is one of our all-time favorite places to fish. Formed during the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption, this gigantic lake is chronically under-fished and yields big, wild trout. That's right, the trout there are WILD. Their ancestors came down out of protected little pockets of water and repopulated the lake. And the descendants live their lives, spawn and repopulate the lake every year.

Hey look who can catch fish too

The lake is so big (1000 acres? 3 miles long?) that the fish get spread out, often making for slow fishing, or at least, infrequent action. On a personal note: I was prepared to be out-fished and I was okay with that (wink)! I picked up the first nice fish shortly before lunch and then the second soon after. We had sighted minnows in the shallows so I figured that there would be trout waiting just in the deeper water to pick them off. And I was right, at least in the morning. Both of my fish were 15".


In the afternoon, Amy started picking up fish, too, using the same techniques. But things became REALLY fun when we started encountering the waterfalls. Every quarter mile or so, we'd find a new waterfall draining into the lake. The current that it created in the still water made the fish start acting like it was a river. We could see large trout picking off bugs in the moving water, so we'd anchor the boat and fish each falls as if they were little rivers. It was AWESOME.

Such a great day

Eventually we ended up at the far end of the lake. It had taken us five hours to get there its so far away! A full-on RIVER feeds into the far side creating a delta and broad shallow basin where lots of fish feed on terrestrials and other bugs in the water. We switched our lines to dry lines and each caught some nice, nice fish on dry flies. I fished the only Elk Hair Caddis from my box. I cast to a rising fish, watched him swirl under the fly, turn and take it. It was so sweet. He also was 15" (according to that new net that Amy got me for Christmas).

Amy with a Trout

Amy fished a beetle pattern, hoping to duplicate the experience of catching that giant fish from last year. She didn't get the giant, but she did catch a 16" fish on her beetle. At 4:00pm we decided to head back across the lake and I started steaming in that direction. Even going straight back it took us 3 hours to get to the truck!

The amazing Heathman Lodge

I slept in the truck all the way back to I-5 I was so tired. We had a celebratory dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then stayed the night at the Wonderful Heathman Lodge in Vancouver. I'm telling you, that place is FOUR STAR for a TWO STAR price. Sunday it rained like crazy, so we cancelled any fishing plans and went shopping instead. Like tourists. It was a great little trip. Here's to the next one!