The thought last weekend was to get away for a rare five-day retreat, spending some time at the family cabin, entertaining ourselves with visits to wineries in nearby Murphys, squeezing in a bit of fly fishing on one of the few open rivers in the Sierra foothills and generally stepping away — far away — from the everyday.
We had enjoyed three weeks of spring-like weather prior to our departure, but the moment we publicly announced our plans, Mother Nature decided she knew better.The drive that got us up to Hwy 108 was easy enough, with stops along the way for lunch and gwaking at Bass Pro. It was after the last stop at Covers Apple Ranch that Mrs. Nature gave us fair warning with steady snowfall as we wound the seven miles to the eastern (and higher) edge of Twain Harte. By the time we reached town, the inches of snow that frosted the familiar with a fresh coat of newness also dictated extreme caution.
While I don’t mind clearing the white stuff to pull into the driveway or the nearly two feet of snow that that muffled and covered the world outside the next morning; I didn’t like the resulting power outage, the excavation of that 60-foot driveway a second and third time, and the increased release of water in the only nearby and fishable tailwater. Though we were thankful for the propane-fired heater, stove and water heater, the lack of power for 48-plus hours wasn’t fun. It was dark by 6:00 p.m. and it’s difficult to read, much less tie flies, by candlelight. Fishing was out of the question the next day as flows on the Stanislaus rose in 40 hours from less than 250 cfs to nearly 1,100 cfs.
We surrendered about 42 hours after our arrival. In that time I learned the value of a snow blower after shoveling the driveway three times, clearing an estimated accumulation of four feet of snow. (My arms agreed with rusty mathematics that suggested I moved over 1,900 cubic feet of the stuff.) Proving that Mother Nature maintains a healthy sense of irony, we were greeted by blue skies just as that last of the gear was packed into the car.
However, we both enjoyed being in a winter wonderland for a while, spending one afternoon tucked into The Rock resaurant with a good draught of Smithwicks ale, a few appetizers and a cozy view of dime-sized flakes floating to earth. I personally enjoyed introducing The Wife, for the first time in her life, to real, heavy snowfall. We also learned that the Prius can do well enough in the snow.
I don’t begrudge Mother Nature for cutting our trip short with piles of snow; it’s the resulting runoff that’ll keep the trout happy and make for excellent Sierra fishing in the late summer and fall.
A Few More Seconds of Fame
It’s nice to know that Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast host Tom Rosenbauer thought enough of my comment on Facebook to mention it in his latest podcast. If you’d care to listen, you only have to wait until about 1:30 into the podcast.
I responded to Mr. Rosenbauer’s podcast of a week ago, “Gear Maintenance in the Off-Season and Ten Tips for the Aging Angler,” with a personal anecdote that there are indeed exercises that could help the aging angler. Though I have yet to be officially recognized for my longevity, a gym membership put to good use during the last year or so seems to have improved my balance during wading, something I attribute to core exercises, namely crunches, bridge, planks and rotational movements.
Admittedly, as a generally
lazy meditative lot, exercise may be foreign to most fly fishermen, and the most widely practiced workout is casting, which coincidently builds up muscles used to also hoist a beer or scotch.
More of what we saw during our shortened stay at The Cabin last weekend:
February 25, 2011 at 10:32 am
No one understands what you went through last weekend better than I. Here we are at the weekend again, and we are getting blasted some more. Did you happen to visit Ironstone Winery in Murphys? I’m the first Kautz to visit the Kautz Winery, that is not related to them. My brother is the second.
February 25, 2011 at 11:18 am
Mark – We’ve visited Ironstone a few times. Every been there during the spring? The hills and side of the road are covered in daffodils; they also have a daffodil show. We’ve enjoyed the wines of Black Sheep and Stevenot and specifically the Sangiovese Rosato, Tesoro and syrah port from Zucca Mountain, which has a great tasting room in the basement of an old building, probably from the gold rush days. A good place for lunch is Firewood, and there’s a little café, I can’t remember the name, that has a signed photo of Robert Conrad from back in the day, when he was filming “High Mountain Rangers” in the area and Tahoe. (Geez, guess I’m showing my age…I did watch it “live.”)
February 25, 2011 at 11:47 am
Ah, you had me up until Prius…;)
Keeping some semblance of physical fitness is important for everyone, but particularly fly fishing peoples. In addition to what you touched on as far as core conditioning to help balance, let’s take it one step farther by training our bodies to be able to stand unwavering and completely motionless on one leg while in the middle of a river: Crane Stance. Ever watch those long legged birds as they’re fishing? They’re very efficient anglers. We could learn a lot from them.
Nicely scribed account of your snow shoveling adventures.
February 25, 2011 at 11:56 am
As for the Prius, it had the better tires and tread; I was hoping to avoid resorting to chains. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…
And I wholeheartedly agree with the crane as an excellent example for fly fishermen…they spend the time to observe what’s going on then move very slowly. I try to emulate them, but only end up hooking smaller fish I can swallow in one gulp.
February 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm
So, did it clear up completely once you left?! That is a beautiful blue sky.
February 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm
Dramatically, but not completely. By the time we got through Manteca it was raining pretty good.