Family Life in Colorado

Snowshoeing at Brainard Lake

Jessica and I recently went snowshoeing at Brainard Lake Recreation Area in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. She often snowshoes at Eldora Mountain while I snowboard, but she’s been-a-hankering to go snowshoeing somewhere more picturesque and backwoods-y. It’s been a few years since we snowshoed at Brainard Lake, so we loaded up the gear and headed up one Saturday afternoon.

Brainard Lake is about an hour and fifteen minute drive from our house, and when we arrived around 1pm the parking lot was probably 90% full. Also, the wind was howling at a steady 25 mph with gusts of 50-60 mph. In fact, Eldora ski lifts were shut down that same afternoon due to the wind. The wind was so bad it was rocking our SUV, and we sat there debating whether we actually wanted to venture forth into the gale. In the end, we decided it probably wasn’t so bad in the trees, and we were already there, so we might as well make the best of it. It actually wasn’t that cold, maybe 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but that wind though…

Brainard Lake has many miles of trails, but not all of them are open to snowshoers, only to cross-country skiers. On this day, we took the main snowshoe trail, and didn’t make it to Brainard Lake, but we still had a good time. The trail was pretty crowded, and the wind was noticeable but not too bad in the trees, just as we suspected. But any time in the mountains is time well-spent.

Life in Colorado

Weightless Texas-Rig Plastic Worms at Sawhill Ponds and Coot Lake

How is that for a blog entry title?

A few weeks ago our realtor mentioned that he caught several nice two-pound bass at Sawhill Ponds on weightless, Texas-rig plastic worms. Pictures and everything, but I was incredulous … first because I couldn’t believe there were bass that big in Sawhill Ponds, and second because I couldn’t believe weightless plastic worms would actually catch anything. I’ve never had much confidence in, or success with, plastic worms, but my friend Aron swears by them down in Austin.

A few days later I’m hiking at Sawhill with Jessica (no fishing allowed) when I see a guy lose a bass in the first pond. We talk a bit and of course he is using, yep, a weightless, Texas-rig plastic worm. He was just casting directly into the weeds that have infested many of the ponds and the worm slithered right through. My preferred crank baits can’t go anywhere near those weeds.

So last week my brother and his family are in town visiting and I take them to Sawhill since it’s only three minutes from our house. I rig up the plastic worms, we go to work and … we catch nothing. Maybe a couple bites, but my nephews are losing interest. I take a rod from one of them and head to pond #2. My brother says, “we’ve worn out that spot.” A few casts later, though, I land the biggest bass I’ve yet to catch in Boulder (which, admittedly, is not saying much). But for Sawhill, it’s a very nice fish. There are ten-year old reports on the internet of people catching five-pounders left and right out of Sawhill, but these days, I think this may be about as big as it gets.

Sawhill Ponds Bass Caught on Weightless, Texas-Rig Plastic Worm
Sawhill Ponds Bass Caught on Weightless, Texas-Rig Plastic Worm

Oh yeah, Coot Lake? The next night I take my brother and nephew to Coot and my brother catches a nice bass on the Texas-rig set-up, while Elijah caught a couple of nice ones on a tiny crank bait. My nephew still hasn’t caught anything in two days, so as we’re walking to the car I stop and tell him, “cast here, I can feel it.” Boom, he pulls in a bass. As we say in Family Vance … noice.

Life in Colorado

Sawhill Ponds Fishing Report

I caught a fish at Sawhill Ponds last weekend. The weather was cold and dreary, the ponds were deserted. The lure was a tiny crankbait. I think the fish is a black Crappie (see picture below). What do you think?

Black Crappie caught at Sawhill Ponds in Boulder
Black Crappie caught at Sawhill Ponds in Boulder, Colorado on May 13, 2016
Family Life in Colorado

Colorado Weekend: Fishing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing

This past weekend was a “why doesn’t everyone live in Colorado” weekend.

Started out Friday evening with birding for Jessica and fishing at Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds for me. I only caught a tiny bass, but I never catch much at Walden or Sawhill, and this trip was no exception, but as usual it’s always great to be out there.

Fishing at Sawhill Ponds/Walden Ponds

Saturday Elijah, Jessica and I went to Eldora Mountain Resort for some snowboarding and snowshoeing. Eldora has an extensive Nordic trail system, but Jessica recently found the Jenny Creek Trail, the public snowshoe trail, so she and Elijah spent the day shoeing in the snow and the trees while I spent a couple hours snowboarding. The sky was stunning, the air was crisp, and while it wasn’t my best day, and the snow wasn’t great, I love any chance to get in the mountains.

Clouds above Eldora Ski Resort while Snowboarding/Snowshoeing

Finally, on Sunday Jessica and I trekked up to Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park. We intended to snowshoe deeper into the park, but we forgot our park pass, so we went to Wild Basin which is one of the “free” entrances to the park with no pay station (at least during Winter). The trailhead is around 8500 feet, and with the warm 2016 Winter we’ve had (it was 50 degrees Sunday), there wasn’t enough snow on the trail to snowshoe so we headed off for a snowy hike. The trail heads to Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls (which we hiked a couple of summers ago), but in Winter you have to hike a mile or so up the road to get to the trailhead, and in the end we only went out 2.5 miles where we snacked and headed back. Still, any day in the mountains is a beautiful day.

St. Vrain Creek in Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park

If anyone ever asks, this is why we moved to Colorado.

Family Life in Colorado

Ski Day at Eldora Mountain Resort

Nine members of the extended Family Vance family trekked to Eldora Mountain Resort the day after Christmas, and of course we caught the highlights on video. Cousins Lauren, Lindsay, Elijah and Josh hit the slopes, Aunt Lela and Jessica went snowshoeing, and the rest of us just drank egg nog with the elves (really!) in the lodge.

Elijah created this cray-cray fast-motion video, a nice capturing of our excellent day.