I left work at 7am and drove straight home. I showered and double checked the gear I was bringing. I repacked my bag for the last time and despite feeling like I was forgetting something I tossed my stuff in the car and hit the road. It was 8:40. Ryan was waiting with the ford fueled and moved out of the parking spot waiting for my car to pull down the driveway. Limited pleasantry’s were exchanged, gear swapped to the ford and down the road we went. 9:50 and we are pulling down a long gravel road. We have a decent hike ahead of us and we aren’t 100% sure where we are going to set up camp. We planned to camp, enjoy the woods and the cold then wake and fish the next day in a hard to reach valley. Camping in the winter is best done with warm dry clothes and feet. Waders are counter productive but this particular river offers no good way of crossing without getting wet. We both chose to pack a spare pair of boots tied to the back of our packs. This was perhaps the best and most crucial decision for the trip. We discussed the idea of just using our wading boots and maybe trying dry neoprene socks but I can just about guarantee you that I would have regretted that choice.

Months prior I secured permission from a landowner to camp on a remote section of their property that comes very close to this particular trout stream. Nothing easy is good and nothing good is easy. We parked the ford, packed absurdly large packs for a single night trip and headed into the woods. We used GPS to ensure we were within the borders of her property and found a suitable site to camp. It was now 12:30 pm. Shortly after we were securing the firewood for the evening. We had to gather enough tinder, kindling, and wood to build and sustain a fire that would cook the potatoes my wife prepared the night before and the two sirloin steaks Ryan had brought. 1:30 pm we left camp for the main reason I was here a full day early. I had been here only a few times prior and both times I had looked up at a rock outcropping some 450ft above the water wanting to look down from above. Today we were going to find out how difficult it would be to hike to that outcropping.

The bluff was steep and we discussed trying to go up at a gradual angle but instead opted to hike up a steep section full of rocks which ended up acting mostly like stairs. Mechanical injury is to be accounted for and taken seriously. We went slow and moved deliberately to avoid any issues. Once on top we found the hike pleasant. A deer trail led out to the rocks from which we could see the stream down below. We took photos and discussed coming back the following morning to watch the sunrise and drink coffee. This would require us to leave camp just after 6:30 am, the bluff hike would serve as a way to wake and warm us up before getting to the top. Plans were confirmed by both parties and we headed back down to camp.

A few good ales were dispensed of while a fire was built and more wood procured. Reflectix is a household insulation material used for many things. We each brought a short section to sit on and to put your feet on while in camp. I cannot understate how awesome this stuff is when you are camping in the cold. Feet wrapped in wool socks were warmed by the fire as they sprawled out on the reflectix. When your feet are happy, you are happy. Soon we were roasting steak and potatoes over coals and discussing the events for the next day. 6:30 am was decided upon as the latest time we could sleep and still get to the outlook for sunrise. We would pack my fancy feast cat stove and water for coffee as well as the reflectix to sit on while we watched the sunrise on the first day of trout season. We stacked all the rest of the wood we cut on the fire and crawled into the hammocks at 8 pm. It didn’t take long for me to pass out.

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