Sunday, September 20, 2009

Videos from Francis Lake

I didn't want to reformat everything on the other post, so I decided to put the video segments here.

This video is of our morning catch that we ate for breakfast. I shows our camp and some of the surrounding views. This is the same area we stayed when I was 12 years old. As a matter of fact the plants we camped over were probably fertilized by Jason Thimmes puke! The good news was that the worms, their can, and the kielbasa sausage were all gone!

Corey has just started to fly fish, so this was a great place for him to practice. I put a beetle pattern on and he went to town, catching quite a few fish. I love this video because the fish catches him by surprise. If you look closely you will see the fish has Whirling Disease. Notice its deformed body. The disease affects its spine before it calcifies, within the first year of life.

Tyler has really been enjoying his fly rod. He is getting pretty good with it and it was fun to watch him slay fish in the small stream at the head end of the cirque. Corey is so competitive that he moved too quickly and wasn't letting Tyler get any of the unfished water, so I had to get after him a little. Tyler is patient, though, and takes things in stride--definitely NOT like his dad. Tyler missed two fish in grand style in this video, it is fun to watch. I am much more like Corey. Maybe that is why my brother Adam doesn't like to fish very much! I took all the good water, leaving him with nothing.

This is Kim fly fishing for the first time since we lived in Provo, Utah, 9 years ago. She did really well once she got the hang of things again. I wish she liked to fish more! She does really well, and I'd love to take her out to do it more often. She has this SICK addiction to quilting, crafting, and other undesirable hobbies. So, if she has time to herself, it WON'T be spent fishing with me!

I love this video because it shows how much my wife has changed since we first got married. She used to go fishing with me, grab worms and take care of the fish. Now she gets grossed out, squeals, and makes me laugh the way she carries on! I sure had fun watching her and the boys catch all those fish at Francis; it was a wonderful trip!

This video is of Kim destroying the fish population in Francis Lake. It is a nice brookie that gets away after fighting Kim and Tyler for life. It is fun to watch!

I had to take a quick video before we left the basin completely. We had just topped out and we decided to take a quick rest before making the 7.5 mile decent. I had to rib Corey a little because he came prepared for absolutely NOTHING but fishing; he is definitely my son!

The Return to Francis Lake July 2009

Francis Lake Basin
When I was 12, in 1984, my dad was my scout leader. For a summer, overnight trip he took 10 or so of us 9 miles into Francis Lake. It is a glaciated lake basin at the head of Lake Creek, under the western rim of the Hurricane Divide. If it sounds magical it's because IT IS! We camped above the lake near a stream that feeds its northern end. We kept our coffee can of night crawlers fresh in the stream, along with cheese (for chili) and our kielbasa sausage (we never ate the sausage and only remembered it being in the creek when we reached the summit, a mile and a half up, on the way home. The worm can was next to the sausage).

The whole basin from the summit.
This shows twin peaks, a magmatic intrusion. A landslide has since occurred, covering the stream and blocking the canyon.

I remember the trek taking 6 hours. We actually camped along the banks of the Lostine River, near the trail head, woke up early and then headed out. We were to carry our basic gear, and Skeeter, our horse, carried food, etc. Mike Moorehead, my dad's hunting partner at the time, came along to help out.

The View From Camp. Looking up the basin.
Looking down the basin.

We reached the basin in the early afternoon and made camp. Then it was fishing time! Francis is/was well known for big brookies. I fished the lake for a short time and then headed to the outlet stream and fished the big pools below the lake. The third pool down held a fish of magical proportions. I remember it being over 20 inches--at least that is how it looked to me. I used spinners, plain and tipped with grasshoppers and night crawlers, but the big fish just followed without taking. I worked the water to a froth while trying to keep the existence of the fish unknown to the other scouts. My little brother Adam came along with our typical set up--2.5 pounds of worm on a #8 or 10 hook, and two split shot the size of cannon balls. This was standard for every stream, lake or river we fished. I had only recently discovered "more refined fishing techniques" using a spinner I had found while fishing one day. I showed Adam the fish and he pulled a typical "Adam face", bug eyed and mouth agape, with a loud, "OH MY GOSH". He immediately cast for the fish, but the bait flew way to the right, crossing the inflow. He reeled fast and hard, trying to get his bait back in to cast again, but his rod doubled over with the weight of a hard fighting, 15 or 16 inch brook trout! I threw my "refined fishing gear" into the bushes along the bank and put on 2.5 pounds of worm, a hook and two cannon ball split shot! We caught a lot of fish in the same class as his. One of our scouts finally landed a fish around 19 inches, it was noticeably smaller than the one I had watched follow my spinner.

Boys fishing the lake. The outlet stream.

Pool #3 below the lake.

My dad hiked to the top of the hurricane divide alone. We wanted to fish, not hike MORE. I've always regretted not going with him. He found Spot, the famous ram of the Wallowa Mountains, bedded on top of that ridge. His face was disfigured from fighting. A blow to the right side of his head had blinded him in one eye, leaving a large lump where the eye had been. His body was emaciated, and he looked to be in poor health. If I remember he was 15 years old that year. He was one of the first lambs born on the sheep range, after their reintroduction by the ODFW, and grew large. Everyone with a tag wanted a shot at him, but never got one; he is a legend of sorts. Dad got really close to him and took some outstanding photos (they are slides) with his Cannon A1. He came down the face of a large snow field that always sits on the slopes above Francis to the NE. Spot died that year along with most all of the other sheep--pneumonia from domesticated sheep got them. 6 years later we tracked big horn sheep through the same mountains, just further north, for the ODFW as part of my Eagle Scout Project.

Here is Kim enjoying the upper lake basin. She loved the wildflowers and watching her boys catch fish! The scenery wasn't bad either.

That night we ate a big pot of chili and fresh trout (char if you want to be picky). One of the other scout shared our dinner with us and puked up whole beans that night. We still talk about it as one of the highlights of the trip!

It took me almost 20 years to make it back to Francis Lake. Adam had been back numerous times without me, be we made it back together in 2003. It was a fast and furious trip of over 25 miles in 24 hours. We caught fish, but not nearly as big. It was fun, and we saw over 40 mountain goats and some sheep. The next year we headed to Chimney, Hobo, and Wood Lakes; NEVER TAKE THE "SHORT CUT" TO WOOD LAKE, AND NEVER LET YOUR LITTLE BROTHER TALK YOU INTO LEAVING YOUR 5 POUND SLEEPING BAG BEHIND FOR A LIGHT SPACE BLANKET!

I have tried for 4 years to get my two oldest sons, Tyler and Corey, into Francis, and this year I finally made it with them and my wife Kim!

Packing up at the trail head.

We left the Yukon around 3:30 in the afternoon, full of water and half and half ice cream cones from the Little Bear in Lostine, Oregon. There is a stream half way up the mountain--it is 7.5 miles up to the summit, and then 1.5 miles down to the lake basin--and it took forever to reach it. We ate super, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with mandarin oranges, gatorade, and water, at the stream, refilling our water supply, and taking a few photos, then headed for the summit.

The half way stream.

We reached the saddle right at dark and took some photos of our triumphant climb and then headed down, making camp in the dark. We ate Top Ramen noodles for dinner and turned in. A coyote came into camp just before we zipped up the tent and while we laid there I noticed Jupiter going ballistic, blinking so bright as to hurt your eyes, then falling so dim you couldn't see it.

Looking at Francis from the summit.

The next morning we fished the lake and then the lower pools like I did when I was a scout, catching half our breakfast (1st half fish, 2nd half instant oatmeal).

The morning catch, including Mr. Toad. We actually caught a bigger toad later that morning.

Then that afternoon we fished along the lake shore to the inlet and the stream in the cirque above. We spotted sheep and goats--though not many of either--high up on the Hurricane Divide, near where my dad took the last pictures of Spot, or Scar Face as he was sometimes called.

Fishing the upper basin. Brookies love beetle patterns, and the mayfly on my finger.

The kids, Kim and I, fly fished the upper stream, and used lures on the lake. We caught dinner and were back to the camp by 5, where we ate our catch along with the rest of the Ramen noodles--which I accidentally dumped on the ground. We picked up what we could and ate them anyway!

Fishing the lake. Me, in the upper basin.
Corey fishing the feeder The upper basin.

After breaking camp, we started our climb out around 6:30, reaching our car by 9:30 and getting home around 11 p.m. Kim and I had to run to keep up with the boys. They passed off two 10 miles hikes for their hiking merit badge. It was a great trip. The kids didn't want to leave, I think they would have lived up there had I let them. It was so much fun to take Kim, Tyler and Corey, to a place that is special to me. I think they have the same feelings about it as I do.

Tyler fishing the feeder streams in the upper basin.

Kim in some frost heaves in the upper basin. She is very patient and will let me take all the geology photos I want, even standing in as a comparison for me so the size of the objects are visible in the picture.