Recently, I realized that my little brother and I don’t see each other as often as we should. I’m a busy dad of three and he’s a hard-working fireman who’s prepping for med school. After coming to this realization we decided to do something about it and we setup a short backpacking trip to the Uintas. Life got in the way and the date got pushed back a time or two, but finally we chose a weekend. This particular weekend just so happened to coincide with the first snow of the year. No matter, we were going.

For years I’d been trying to get my brother to take up fly fishing but he had other hobbies and I could never really get a take. Turns out that on this trip he wanted to try fly fishing for the first time. I was stoked. Considering the circumstances, it would be a good time and a memorable way to experience flicking a fly.

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We headed up the mountain not really sure what to expect. A couple inches of snow? A foot? Since our government was taking a break there weren’t really any resources to call to check up on conditions. We packed snowshoes just in case and knew that either way it’d be cold! Lower elevations had little to no snow, but as we got further and further up the Mirror Lake highway we got a better feel of what we’d be in for. It was just after 2pm when we parked the car. The display said 28°. Booya! After choosing the proper hiking attire we donned our packs and headed on our way. We wouldn’t be going too far – maybe 3 or so miles in. The challenge was that the particular hike/lake was new for us both and there was enough snow to conceal the trail – we’d have to find our own way in. Nevertheless, we confidently set out into the quiet, snowy landscape.

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Along the way, we stuck to the high ground, careful not to lose too much elevation that we’d inevitably have to make up later. We kept pretty good pace but did step over a fallen tree or two (hundred). A mile or so in we found traces of the trail and were able to more or less follow it much of the rest of the way there. That was a blessing. We were stoked to arrive to the basin in the time we had estimated. The snow was deeper on our decent into the basin and I couldn’t help but visualize skiing a good line and the features that would be fun on the way down. Our timely arrival would leave us with plenty of time to gather some firewood before dark. While a fire wouldn’t be absolutely necessary, it would make the evening a whole lot more enjoyable!

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We found a great spot near the lake’s edge and we dropped our packs to take in our surroundings. It was quiet. The breeze that greeted us when we arrived had died. No birds. No squirrels. Silence. I soon got to setting up the tent while Justin dug out the fire pit. With our tent setup we went in search of firewood. We did our best to find dead tinder and slowly compiled a healthy amount. Justin managed to find a few good dead logs buried in the snow that would keep us warm until bedtime.

After we had enough firewood, we rigged up. The sun was dropping and we had an hour or so to chase some fish. With the season coming to an end I figured the fish would be opportunistic and ready to eat. That proved to be true. With little room to backcast, I taught him the nuances of roll casting. It didn’t take long for him to get the hang of it. In the midst of his practicing, his fly came in contact with a small, cruising brook trout. It eagerly chased it down. “Uh, I think I got one.” In a moment we netted his first brook trout and his first fish on the fly. I coached him through removing the hook and the release and we returned to casting practice. Small fish cruised in now and again and we teased them with our offerings, opting to forego setting the hook on many. It’s always fun to see fish react to a fly.

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As the sky grew dark we headed back to our campsite and got a fire going. It’s warmth was welcome to our bare hands. We got some decent flames going and placed the first of our snowy logs by it’s side to begin drying. As we prepared our hot dinner we realized the one thing that didn’t make it in our packs – utensils. Oops. We did a mental inventory of our packs and decided our best option was to do what we could with the wood that we had. We carved with knives and sanded with rocks.

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We enjoyed our hot meals and stayed up for hours talking around the fire. I relished the time there with my brother. Meaningful conversation with no one around us in the complete silence of the mountains. I couldn’t believe that we’d never done this before – we get along great and both have a love for the outdoors. How could I have let opportunities like this slip through the cracks all these years and it’s only now when we’re busier than we’ve ever been that I realize what I’d been missing out on? I vowed to make this no less than an annual tradition.

It grew late and we decided to retire to our bags. It was cold. We reluctantly left the warmth of the fire. I stripped down to my baselayer (only $40), changed my socks, and slid into my bag. We joked about how freaking cold it was as sleeping bags slowly began to provide warmth. After I got settled, I again noticed just how still it was.

Seeing as it was frickin’ freezing cold, I figured that the fish would be just as active as us in the morning. We waited for the sunshine to join us in camp before we emerged from the tent. It was a beautiful morning. We rekindled the fire and used last nights pouches to cook some oatmeal. While we ate unthawed our waders and boots by the fire.

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oatmeal

We spent the day walking the banks and sight-fishing to little brookies. It was a blast. It was the perfect blend of eagerness and playing hard to get. As I reflect back on the trip and write this I realize that even though the fishing for these tiny fish was a blast, it was only a piece of what made this a great trip. For me there’s enjoyment that comes from getting out in the peace and quiet of God’s creation. Not just getting away from the figurative “noise” of day to day life – but also the literal noise. It’s refreshing to get out there and know that you’re more or less alone. It was an adventure to find our own way not knowing ultimately if we’d find our destination or not. On top of all that, it was great to spend some time with my brother. It will be a trip that I remember for a long time.

From time to time I’ll meet or talk with people that share positive feedback about this blog. It’s always fun to hear. I especially enjoy hearing when it gets them more excited about fly fishing. With this in mind, I guess if I had a message to go along with this post it would be this: if there are any who read this that have been putting off spending time with those they care about…do it now! Shoot off an email, send a text/facebook message/throw a qi bomb, make that call. Just make it happen. You can’t spend enough time with those you care about. Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox! Thanks for reading!

#yolo brah. Hahahaha. For real though.

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About The Author

Chinese Boy
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The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.

18 Responses

  1. Mark Kautz

    My brother and I never did get together enough. He was my brother for 66 years and we lost him last December. Don’t wait. Make time even if you have to hold him down and beat him into submission. If you don’t you’ll be sorry you didn’t, just like I am.

    Reply
  2. Brian

    My guess is that on our deathbeds we won’t really care much about how many fish we caught. But we will absolutely think about the time spent with those we love.

    It’s great when those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Beautiful pics as always.

    Cheers

    Reply
  3. Spencer

    Lucky for me I have 4 brothers! I even went as far as convincing one to bring his wife to live in AK. It’s not hard to enjoy the time spent in your brothers company outside. Good post.

    Reply
  4. Riley

    All your posts are inspirational but this one was really over the top. Great job man, keep them coming.

    Reply
  5. Brian Koz

    You had me at Bigfoot,
    PHENOM photos of the hike/campfire and brookies aflame!! Gorgeous!!
    Keep it up!
    Tight :Lines,
    Koz

    Reply
  6. Ruben

    Nathan,
    Crazy how I just booked a trip a few weeks ago with my oldest brother for this Thanksgiving. Luckily he lives in Colorado Springs and Ive been told there is some incredible fly fishing there.
    He joined the Army after he graduated high school in 2001 and we haven’t been fishing since before then and haven’t seen each other much since then. I mean hell we shared bunk beds as kids rode bikes everyday and now I hardly know the guy.
    We grew up in Texas bass fishing but since last November Ive been addicted to fly fishing and hope to share my passion for the sport with him, but more importantly share some much needed unspoken brotherly love, no words required. I hope to update with another video edit on the subject.

    Thanks guys.

    Reply
  7. Dallas

    I’ve always considered myself the blacksheep of the family, due to the fact that my dad and siblings (sisters and brothers) are all avid fisherman and I never really was into it. I always told myself that someday when things slow down and I cant do all the adrenaline junkie hobbies I’ve grown up doing, that I’d take up fly fishing, golf, learn how to play the guitar better and the harmonica ect. I thought that time to slow down and do those “slower’”paced hobbies would be in my late 50′s or early 60′s. Well, in June of this year my “active” lifestyle caught up with me and I had a ruptured disc in my back that I had to have surgery on and things slowed down, alot. As I was recovering and rehabing I thought to myself, “sell one of your bikes and buy some fly fishing gear and start doing that as an activity I could do while rehabing. Well to make a long story short. I am hooked, no pun intended. For the last 2 1/2 months , pretty much all I do is fly fish. I love it, my dad and siblings are beside themselves happy that I’m doing it and I love the times when we can get together and go. I came across this blog from my sister (laurascow) and enjoy the posts and the OSF store for gear as well. Keep sharing and fishing!!

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      I definitely knows how it goes with the adrenaline sports goes. My wife made me mellow out once we had kids. I’m glad you’ve got the fly fishing itch! Super appreciate your support. If we can help in any way, whether it’s gear questions or whatever, let us know!

      Reply
  8. Lynn

    Great post. We can never spend enough time with family, especially time in the outdoors. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  9. beverly leavitt

    Nathan, as I told you in your birthday card I have never been fishing and at 82 I doubt that will change. But I sure did enjoy the pictures, etc on your page. Love you lots. Does Candice like to fish?

    Reply

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