Guest Post by Ashley Rust
I am lucky enough to say that I have been a participant in the Flyathlon since the beginning, back to the beta-phase, when our great leader, Andrew Todd, was fleshing out the idea and organized an unofficial trial run. Every year since, I participate, volunteer or support the Flyathlon in some way and every year I walk away totally inspired. This year was different, it is 2020, but I still walked away uplifted and inspired.
Gwen Nelson, an old friend from Creede and a fellow Flyathlete and I encouraged each other to register for the first ever Socially Distanced Flyathlon and made plans to meet later in the summer. I hadn’t seen my friend since leaving the Middle Creek Flyathlon last summer. The day came and we met at a trailhead outside of Buena Vista.
My girl, Gwen had done her research and found a trail to a high alpine lake with cutthroat trout in it. The trail for Kroenke Lake, shares a trailhead with Mt. Harvard and both are well utilized and well-maintained trails. The trail to Kroenke Lake was gorgeous with a lot of exposure to North Cottonwood Creek, which is a good sized stream with a lot of fishy habitat. However, our destination was the beautiful cirque lake 8 miles up.
We got caught up as we hiked, covered it all as girlfriends can do and arrived at the lake midday. It was full of people but there was plenty of room and fish for everyone. After setting up, trying a few different flies we both joyously caught some gorgeous cutthroat trout. It was my first time catching our state’s beauty on a fly, and to add to the kismet, I used a packable Rolling River Anglers rod created by a Running Rivers board member which I purchased at a Rare-Fish-Rare-Beer fundraiser a few years ago.
We finished the day with our feet in the Arkansas River, the local Eddyline beer in our hands feeling elated. It was a highlight of my COVID summer. Thank you Flyathlon for getting me out on an adventure and for introducing me to the joy of catching our mighty natives.