Stopping in at the local fly or bike shop and asking for advice is a well established ritual, especially if you are in a new area. What river is fishing well? What flies are working? What are the trail conditions? What’s the local fave ride? Is there good camping somewhere? At the bike shop, I might buy a map or a pair of socks. At the fly shop, I will get some dry flies.
But how do you know when the advice is worth taking? Do you trust your instinct? Do you suspect you are getting sent to the standard places for out-of-towners or is there some indication that this info is specifically for you? There are so many pieces of information that can guide us, and in the absence of any of our own information, sometimes we take advice because we want it to be good.
This past weekend we stopped at a fly fishing shop in Colorado. Weather had scared us away from our initial plan as well as our back-up plan and we were looking for small water, wild fish, and dispersed camping. We got some bad advice. To be fair, it may have been outdated advice… I didn’t think to ask Dave when was the last time he had been up to the creek he sent us to. The road was long and winding and out of the way and when it turned to dirt it was rocky and massively rutted. Deep and slimy mud puddles of unknown depth spanned the entire width of the road. When we realized it was still several miles to our destination and the skies were black with storm clouds, we pulled over and then pulled the plug.
But now what? We were a few hours drive up on a mesa and it was late afternoon. We looked at the map and found a road that look “improved” and might eventually lead us off the mesa. It passed lakes and creeks and campgrounds, should we not find any better options. The goal was to find a camping spot that was at least a B, and we eventually pulled into a nice flat spot above a lake, about 10,000 feet. We had a couple hours of occasional sun to set up camp and maybe catch a fish. In the middle of the night the sky was clear and it was not nearly as cold as we thought it might be. Success!
In the early morning we heard the unmistakable sound of snow hitting the tent, but eventually it quieted down. Turns out, that was because so much of it fell that it created some insulation from the sound. It was dumping sideways snow when we finally opened up the tent, and we were totally socked in. The cows had moved in, too, and even a couple of dogs barking at them couldn’t get them to budge.
The weather wasn’t Dave’s fault, but we cursed his name, nonetheless. How did we end up on this mesa anyway? Our adventure went seriously sideways, but we thoroughly enjoyed our night at the lake, the snowy drive out and our eventual breakfast at the local diner. But would I go back to that fishing shop? Ask them for fishing advice? Probably not. We will have to get our info from the internet next time, and have a better back-up plan.