On the fly: Flat Tops getaway | AspenTimes.com

On the fly: Flat Tops getaway

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

FLAT TOPS WILDERNESS AREA – For two straight days last weekend, I sat on the edge of gorgeous lakes, fly rod in hand, surrounded by nothing but scenery. There wasn’t another person in sight.That is the draw of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, a massive expanse of alpine meadows and tundra encompassing parts of the White River and Routt national forests. It easily ranks as one of my favorite places.I’d headed to Trapper’s Lake, outside of Meeker, for some R&R sans cellphones, Internet access and social networking. Actually there wasn’t a lot of rest and relaxation, at least in the traditional sense, given all the hiking and fishing, but it was just what the doctor ordered.Friday took me from Trapper’s to Wall Lake, a decent climb that affords stunning views of Trapper’s as it recedes from view and winds through some of the old-growth forest that remains after the 2002 Big Fish Fire dramatically changed most of the landscape surrounding Trapper’s Lake.Wall Lake, I’d been told, contains no fish. Not true: They’re just not visible to the naked eye. I watched multiple rises close to the shore but couldn’t see any fish darting from the telltale ripples. I tied on a tiny fly, and the trout hit at it, but they were so small, they couldn’t take it in. The lake has been stocked with fingerlings, I’m guessing.No matter. I sat down to take in the view in solitude.Saturday marked my return to McInnis Lake, where I’d been skunked more than a decade ago on my first visit to Trapper’s Lake and the surrounding environs. It’s a 1.7-mile hike to McInnis, a gorgeous lake where the shoreline was thankfully untouched by the inferno, though once again, the trail cuts through areas of burned timber.There’s an earthen dam at the far end of the lake. The water is deep there, and fish were hitting the surface sporadically. I was having no luck (pretty much like my last visit) and plopped down on a rock to contemplate how it could be that I had the place to myself on a sunny Saturday at midday.I was too busy marveling at my good fortune to notice the huge cutthroat that slurped up my fly until it was too late. With slack in my line thanks to my inattentiveness, I had no chance to set the hook before the fish was gone.I know anglers will say catching fish doesn’t matter – that just getting out there is reward enough. I’ve said this enough times myself to know it’s generally bull, but on the Flat Tops, it really doesn’t matter.janet@aspentimes.com

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