American Fly Fishing

Alpine Splendor
By Jonathan Hill

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, CO

The trail up to Bear Lake gradually climbs through a mountain valley, affording outstanding views once the route climbs above timberline. Here, the author makes the morning trek in hopes of catching more cutthroat trout. Photo by Jonathan Hill

I enjoy coaching my son’s soccer team. Helping 9- and 10-year-olds develop their skills and then seeing their improvement each week is rewarding. I also get to brush up on my own skills and put them in action at the end of each season, when we parents scrimmage against the kids. Last spring’s game, though, almost thwarted my long-planned expedition into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness of central Colorado.

The kids were winning, as usual, and I was dribbling the ball downfield. I went to pivot and pass to the middle, heard a pop, and went down. My left knee had given out and I knew I was done for. The next day I could barely put any weight on my leg, and the knee had swollen to three times its normal size.

After three doctor visits and an MRI, I was diagnosed with a tiny tear in my meniscus; it would require surgery. I told my doctor that I had a backpacking/fly-fishing trip planned and asked if it was possible to delay the surgery and still make the extensive hike six weeks from then. He gave me a shot of cortisone and told me to do some light stretching and mild workouts, have fun, and let him know if I made it back safely.