It's late Fall, or what is often referred to as Indian Summer. The temperature is ten degrees warmer than normal. The aspen leaves are that dark, golden color before they turn brown and tumble to the ground. Pine squirrels run across the forest floor checking fallen cones for nuts to cache before deep snow buries the mountain.
With each wind, a rustling sound like someone searching the bottom of a paper sack for the last morsel of lunch drifts through the quiet. It's a perfect day for a hike.
From the trail head we gradually climb up a rocky side hill toward a small ridge sparsely covered with sage, quakies, and pine. As we climb out of the Tony Grove parking lot a wooden sign marks a split in the trail. The trail to the left takes you to Naomi Peak. The trail to the right takes you to White Pine Lake. White Pine Lake is our destination. We've already hiked a few tenths of a mile and the sign tells us we have 3.8 miles to go.
We are lured to this area with autumn colors and as a fly fisherman with rumor of a small lake filled with palette-splashed brook trout. At the sign we glance back to take in the view of Tony Grove Lake. The scene is nice. I try to block out the cars and trucks, and asphalt in the parking lot and look upward at the gray rocky cliffs dressed in a shallow coating of early season snow.
|Small colorful brook trout.|
The trail takes us through a couple of clearings, then through areas of pine and aspen. The afternoon sun has melted the frozen trail and we slip and slide through muddy stretches. We end up on a ridge overlooking another canyon. A climb down through a few frozen switchbacks puts us in the bottom of the canyon. We stop to rest and I can hear the gurgle of a small creek. If my map is right, this is Bunchcreek. Somewhere near this creek is another trail that runs approximately seven miles down to Highway 89, the main road in Logan Canyon. Toward the headwaters of this creek is the lake we are seeking. I investigate the creek water and search for any sign of small trout. I see places where trout could survive but never spot any. My attention is then turned to finding the lake. The lake is well hidden and at no point on the trail have we been able to get a glimpse of it. This adds to the excitement. Finally, as we cross a couple of footbridges, and crest a small hill, we look toward the base of two mountain peaks named Gog and Magog and see White Pine Lake.The shadow side of the peaks is covered with a foot of snow while the opposite side has a warm inviting look. The water is fresh and clean; it takes on the color of the green moss bottom. From different angles mirrored images of tall pines shoot across the surface. With each little breeze the images are erased and then reappear with stillness. This is a popular summer and fall destination. Boy Scouts like to hike in for overnight camps. As we were going in we passed a troop of Boy Scouts going out and a couple of people on horseback. When we arrived at the lake we lucked out and had it to ourselves for an hour. I noticed a few fish rise and rigged my rod, line, leader and fly as quick as I could. I made several casts into the area of the rising fish and hooked up with a nice 11-inch brookie. The colors on the fish matched the colors of the fall foliage. I was impressed with the beauty. The dark worm-like mottled back, the bright orange-red belly, the blue and crimson dots, and the brilliant white on the leading edge of the fins made for a very handsome trout.
|Notice the snow in the background.|
|Most of the brookies were about 10 inches.|
I can't claim that the fishing was fast but it was fun. I found that my best tactic was to spot a cruising fish and then cast to it. Most of the cruisers would turn and come for the fly. I was using a dry fly and twitching it slightly to get the brookie's attention. It was like fishing in slow motion for me. I'm so used to the quicker rises of fish on moving waters. Watching and waiting for the trout to get to my fly was fun.
|Casting to cruising trout.|
|A beautiful setting.|
With the shortness of the fall day, we decided to start our hike out to beat the setting sun. A little stiffer breeze was blowing and fast moving, small cumulus clouds were starting to appear above the mountain peaks. On our way out we passed a few groups of backpackers just going in. This is definitely a great place for an overnighter. As we hiked out I dreamed of hiking back in and staying overnight. The idea of a fresh trout dinner, a warm campfire, and a star-filled night danced through my mind.
|Can't wait to do this again.|
The muddy section of the trail had mostly dried out with the afternoon sun. I smiled as I hiked and talked with my daughter and wife. Our hike was topped off when three deer jumped out of the brush and across the trail in front of my daughter. She waved for us to stop and then slowly approach her. The three deer stood off the trail about 30 yards and stared at us as we stared at them.
Eventually, we made it back to Tony Grove and the parking lot. A stiff wind was now blowing over the ridge. Our timing was perfect. A few days later I mentioned to my wife and daughter that I loved being outdoors and that I always have a feeling similar to a home sickness after a day outside in areas I love. My heart flipped when my daughter said she often feels the same thing when we leave grandpa's summer home in Bear Lake. I believe there are places in nature that provide a measure of serenity and peace--maybe even an unexplainable healing both to the body and the spirit. As I write this my eyes are moist as I think back on spending a wonderful day with two of the people I love so much. Nature is bringing us closer together.
|My daughter, her dog Ottus, and the penguin.|
|First vew of the lake.|
|White Pine Lake|