A swim in Rock Creek and a roll in the Rattlesnake

I’m not a morning person. Never have been, probably never will be. However, I find myself getting up early pretty regularly since I picked up fly fishing and mountain biking. 4:45am came early this Memorial Day. Quick shower, load the bike, fly gear and a couple changes of clothes in the truck and I was at Chad’s by 5:20. A quick stop at Holiday for gas and breakfast and a complete run down from the attendant about how his friends keep making him DM while playing D&D but he still gets to play a character and when it gets angry he crits (I have no idea… don’t ask) we were on Rock Creek by 6:10.
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Chad just got a new switch rod from a small company. The price was right and based on his results on this trip I’ll be giving them serious consideration if I ever get the urge to pick up a rod with a reel on it. First casts with his new toy…
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I was casting to the tail of a run using a San Juan worm and hooked in to something big. Chad said the Amago was bending all the way to the butt. Unfortunately, my 5X tippet didn’t feel like holding up to the strain. While I was tying on a new fly Chad dragged a wooly bugger through the same hole and this was the result.
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Twenty minutes on the water with a new rod and he had his first fish of the day to hand. I moved up to the head of the run, the last two times on this stretch of Rock Creek I’ve pulled out some nice rainbows. Today, I watched one circle my SJ, I had one bump it and then nothing. And that concludes my action for the day. Getting skunked isn’t something I set out to do but, I’ve been lucky enough to not have it happen a lot so far this year. It was a gorgeous morning, no complaints.
Chad on the other hand was killing it. I know he switched flys a few times but I didn’t ask to what and I wouldn’t tell even if I had 😉
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My skunked face…
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With views like this, it’s hard to be cranky while on the water.
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While attempting to cross I managed to lose my footing and take a swim. After a short journey down stream I got to the bank, unscathed but a bit soggy. New wading boots have moved rapidly up my list of needed gear after this incident…
One of my favorite publications is Headwall. A friend recently became their photographer and in an article in the most recent issue gave some tips on taking shadow portraits. I gave it my best in this one of Chad, pretty happy with the result, especially considering it was just a point and shoot camera…
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After moving up stream a bit Chad made a perfect(-ly lucky) cast up tight to a fallen tree and pulled out his third fish of the day.
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I tried a few more spots with no luck. Such is fishing. I still had a great morning on a beautiful stretch of water with a good friend. For those who only care about fishing posts, this is the point where I say ‘Happy Angling!’ To anyone who just likes the outdoors, lets move on to a brief mention of the rest of my morning…
I’m lucky enough to work in a bike shop. Basically, I hang out with my friends, listen to Spotify, fix/sell toys to people and generally live a charmed life. This year, I’m riding a Kona King Kahuna. It’s a full carbon World Cup winning bike. I have no business riding something this nice but, it’s one of the perks of the job. I made a quick change of clothes and Chad’s and took my sweet time heading up to the Rattlesnake Wilderness Trailhead to meet my friend Thurston for a little spin.
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As he was running a bit late I did a quick lap on a trail we call Ewok. It’s a short little single track that is very reminiscent of the Speeder scenes in Return of the Jedi. It starts where the dirt begins on Sawmill Gulch, which looks like this…
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Pretty amazing right? Did I mention this is only about a 30-40minute ride from my house? After Thurston showed up we headed back up Sawmill, which goes from “Jeep Trail” width down to single track and begins to gain some elevation.
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When biking in Missoula, you learn to love the climbs. After we got to the top of Sawmill we decided to head down Curry Gulch with a stop off at the Curry Cabin.
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Thurston brought beer. It was super good but sadly cut short. Soon after cracking them open and wandering around the old homestead we heard what sounded like a rapid thumping sound. We both heard it but thought nothing of it. A few minutes later we heard it again, closer, and it was clearly a growl. While we never saw it to confirm, I’m 99% sure we had a mountain lion a bit disgruntled by our presence.
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We got out of there rapidly. A nice decent down Curry Gulch followed by another fun lap on Ewok (fun for me at least, Thurston sadly crashed and is now dealing with a torn MCL, heal up my friend!).
All in all, a dang fine morning in Western Montana. Hope you all got out and enjoyed your Memorial Day as much as I did, I’m sure all the fine folks who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country wouldn’t have it any other way.

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