September 2013

Summer fly-fishing adventures

By Brandon

Howdy friends! Brandon here with another installment of The Fly Blog. To the loyal fans of this humble periodical (both of you), I apologize for the time that has passed since my last posting. I can only imagine the lengths to which you must have gone to fill your time in the absence of my musings. I suppose my best excuse is that we’ve just been so busy having a blast with our ranch guests on the water that I’ve neglected to share it with everyone.

As I now type, a raucous late-summer storm is pelting the fly shop’s roof with hail and raindrops that appear large enough to each fill a shot glass. It’s another in a string of rather refreshing storms we’ve been getting over the past couple weeks here. Not enough to slow us down or dampen spirits, but enough to keep both dude ranchers and fish happy.

So let’s get caught up on the fishing… As some of the nearby lakes and early-season hot spots began to taper off by late June, the Elk River heated up right on cue; and if I’m being honest I’d admit that I was sweating it a little bit. Springtime rapids mellowed nicely into summer flows and fish began showing up in their predictable places. While we waited for many of the fish to work their way back up to us – after last year’s drought conditions – Bubba and I had the opportunity to hunt out some lesser utilized fishing spots near the ranch. Initially this was carried out to bridge the gap while awaiting the Elk River to turn on, but we came across some really good water that made for great trips and some wonderful memories along the way. Stalking wary brook trout and cutthroats with two and three weight rods in the smaller waters of the South Fork of The Elk and the Middle Fork of the Little Snake became staple trips for us that guests looking for an adventure really enjoyed. By mid July the Elk River was in full swing with fish feeding readily on well presented grasshopper and stonefly patterns. In addition to The Elk and its tributaries, we’ve had a blast with some of our guests who booked private water on the Yampa River and the North Fork of the North Platte through our association with The Rocky Mountain Angling Club. Some truly exceptional trips and a chance to get out on some of Colorado’s best fly fishing properties!

Terrestrial patterns (hoppers, crickets, ants and beetles) are continuing to produce for us now, well into September, but will soon give way to late season mayfly hatches as we march our way into fall. Brown trout and brook trout are our two species that are fall spawners, as opposed to rainbows and cutthroats which spawn in the spring. I’m looking forward to targeting some larger-than-average brookies in the high mountain lakes this fall; their spawning colorations are really something to see!

We still have about a month left of fishing this season before turning things over into a snowy vacation destination. If the season thus far is any indicator of the remainder…bring it on! Hope to see you soon.

That’s one fit horse!

By Steph

We know our horses are tough and will go for miles and miles. Although we all work hard at the ranch, there is no doubt the our equine staff members work the hardest. They carry our guests with a willing attitude and caring demeanor through the woods and over mountains. The horses that make up the Vista Verde remuda are special beings, and only those who can handle the hard work and have kind hearts can make the cut. Even though I know that, I got a great reminder of how hard they work when Faye sent me her Fitbit report for her week at the ranch. Maybe you use Fitbit for your own personal fitness assessment and goals. But DB the horse was the one being tracked during a week earlier this month.

As you can see, Faye and DB covered some ground while they were out playing in the Colorado mountains. We’re a little concerned about their lack of sleep, and wonder where the party was all night? In the barn? Chasing owls and coyotes in the pasture? But, more than anything we are glad to see no change in weight. You know the food around here…..sometimes the calories burned don’t quite offset the extra intake.

Next up is to put a GPS tracker on DB so we can map out all their adventures.

Romance at a dude ranch

By Steph

You may not think of dude ranch and romance in the same thought. But, besides the fact that I could go on and on about how a dude ranch vacation can be a really romantic vacation option, this post is not about guests enjoying a romantic getaway. It’s about the staff. Yes, those of you who have been here love to try to figure out what couples might have formed over the course of a season. With a group of young people all living and working together as well as sharing a love of serving people and being in nature, how could you expect a little romance to flair up every now and then? Yes, we preach to our staff professionalism and to be very careful getting emotionally involved with someone who you work with so closely. But we also celebrate the wonderful pairings that have come out of the ranch romances.

This summer, we celebrated two more marriages of VVR Alumni. Earlier in August, Cliff and Lindsay celebrated their marriage in Indiana with some other ranch alums attending the wedding. And just last weekend Eliza and Brett tied the knot in Vermont, also surrounded by some dear friends from the ranch.

It’s so exciting to see these two couples stepping into the next phase of their lives. We wish them all the best in their marriages and their lives ahead of them. They have become part of a special group of people who have found romance at this Colorado dude ranch. I’ve lost track of the count, but it’s close to 20 couples, and the babies…..I couldn’t even begin to start counting them. VVR Alum couples, please share your stories and updates with us in the comments section. I know there is at least one baby due soon in Idaho, but maybe even more on the way elsewhere?

Fall is coming to the ranch

By Steph

One of the many joys of being at Vista Verde year-round is watching the seasons change each year. Every year the timing is a bit different due to the weather we have had and are having at that time. I find myself remembering differences in the various years based on how it ties in with various weeks at the ranch. For example, this fall I am reminding myself that during past years the fall colors are popping out already during our first cattle round-up week. This year they have been a little more shy and seem to be waiting for future weeks. Having said that, the lead up to the full explosion of colors is almost as exciting as the time when golden aspen leaves fall on the trail below our feet and hooves.

Prior to the trees changing, there are these subtle color shifts that occur in the forest. Our wonderful Jess captured some of these recently when she went out riding.

If you haven’t experience fall in Colorado you should run, not walk, to your computer and start planning that trip. It’s not the same as the East coast explosion of colors, but it is truly magnificent. Every year I am reminded and astonished by the beauty of the fall season. The angle of the sun shifts so the light is mystical, especially more so in the morning and evening hours. The colors are rich and the contrast with the beautiful blue sky is extreme. There is no better time to be out in the forest riding, hiking, biking or just sitting.

This is the time for adult only weeks and now we are starting our cattle round-up outings. It’s so fun to watch couples enjoy a romantic getaway or a group of girlfriends share laughter on their special time together. But, aside from the stunning scene playing out in the forest what we love the most is the sound of joy. My good friend gave me that term last week as she described the noise in the dining room one night. It was loud. And it was joy.

Plan your trip. Book that ticket. Even if you aren’t coming to Vista Verde for your fall getaway, get yourself out to Colorado! But, I will mention that we do still have a little space during the first two weeks in October…..the colors may be starting to fade but the beauty of fall in Colorado will still be surrounding us at the ranch.