June 22nd, 2002
It is 5:30 AM and I am soaring up Clear Creek Canyon with Mozart playing on the Jeep's stereo. US 6 is dry and virtually free of traffic as I severely exceed the speed limit on the winding road.
"My tunnel!" I murmur to myself as I see tunnel number 3, echoing a childhood game of so many years ago. I enjoy the sense of being one with the Jeep, realizing that a lapse of concentration at this speed could be fatal. All to soon the canyon is behind me and the Downieville exit appears. I pull off the highway and soon find my self in the Burger King drive through. The last two weeks have not been fun.
Poldar disappeared on the 10th and all I attempted to do to find his whereabouts turned up empty. A thorough investigation of the house revealed that he indeed took all his possessions with him along with his new clothes. In addition, he appropriated one of my daypacks and 100 dollars in cash that I had hidden in the dust cover of the Hobbit. I'm a little surprised that he found it, as I didn't think the necklace granted the user the ability to read. Who knows, perhaps Poldar had some other item or even cast a spell. I have to admit, I know only what little the books hinted at as to the nature of elven magic. Regardless, he must have been able to read the titles and my Tolkien collection easily caught his attention. Still I feel the elven broach he left, next to the book, has far more worth than the two green bills with Grant's face on them.
Each of the last twelve days I checked with all the local police departments, highway patrol, and even the state mental hospitals, nothing. The rest of my free time has been filled with my usual routine of martial arts, horseback riding, and spending a day with my dad on Father's Day. As each day passed my frustration grew until this morning after failing to hold on to the sand man's shirttails I decided to forget about Poldar and enjoy a weekend of fishing in North Park. I just don't feel right returning to Middle Earth without Poldar. Damn him, why did he do this to me!
My musings once again drift to the background as take Berthod Pass as fast as I can, slowing only for the construction zones which never seem to finish. I can physically feel the stress of the last few days drift away as I pass through Fraser. I shuffle through the cassette tapes and pop in "Charlie Parker with Strings".
On Willow Creek Pass I pull off to the side and watch a couple of Moose near the Stillwater Pass Road. I laugh to myself at how stupid they appear. They truly are the most unattractive of all the deer family. A face only a mother could love. As the pair move out of sight I once again travel north, top the pass and enter North Park.
North Park is encircled by the Never Summer Mountains to the northeast, the Medicine Bow to the east, the Park Range to the west and Rabbit Ears to the South - all their water draining into the North Platte River. The rivers flowing through North Park tend to be meadow-type water, relatively slow, with no rapids and few riffles. Nevertheless the rivers, creeks and streams offer enough surprises to make fishing challenging and exciting. Besides, this is where my grandfather taught me how to fish.
I pass through Rand and I remember that when I was a kid they used to have a sign that read "Rand, Population?". Well Rand is a little larger now as are almost all the small towns in Colorado. As a joke my grandmother wrote in my father's wedding announcement that my Dad was from Denver and Rand, much to the amusement of the locals and great confusion to his soon to be brides out-of-state family. I stop in Walden to get some gas, food and get rid of this morning's coffee.
I continue north along Colorado 125. I pass through Cowdrey and Threeway and eventually I pull off and park a few miles south of the Wyoming State line. I put on my waders, assemble my rod and reel, put my lunch into my pack and head into the canyon. Today I plan to fish the Northgate Canyon. Here the river changes to a relatively narrow, fast-moving water. I walk along the north bank until the trail leads to the river. Then I walk downstream until I get to the Wyoming State Line. I find a soft rock along the bank and eat my lunch.
The burberling of the river and the sun cast a spell upon me and I fall asleep along the shore. I awake sometime later to the savage bite of a rather larger horsefly. I rig up with a weighted woolly bugger and begin to fish the pocket water for the brown and rainbow trout that I know are swimming somewhere below the surface. Three hours of fishing produce only two brown, 16 and 19 inches in length. The canyon reminds me a little bit of the Merrill valley. The flow rate of the Merrill is much more than the North Plate but the canyon walls and natural rock gardens are still reminiscent.
Late in the day I switch to an elk hair caddis and cast into the slack water. This produces a little bit more excitement. Over the course of the few hours I get a score of rises that result in seven rainbow caught and eventually released, each 14 to 16 inches.
Shortly after 7:00 PM I witness the most amazing hatch of pale evening duns I have ever seen. I quickly switch to a size 14 pale evening parachute dun and fail to catch a single fish. Over the next hour and a half I try anything and everything in my fly box but fail to catch even a single fish. Watching carefully I see the trout leisurely roll and slurp up these insects.
The sky begins to color as I make my way back to the Jeep. I surprise a young doe squatting in the middle of the river. She sees me and slowly exits the river and walks into the nearby trees. I make it back to the Jeep just before dark. I change clothes and break down my rod feeling better than I have for many a day. I begin to drive south planning to stay at my father's cabin.
Before taking the turn towards the cabin my conscience gets the better of me and I decide to head back to my house instead. Who knows perhaps Poldar has returned. The ride back is quiet and the moon is nearly full. I pull into the garage after one in the morning, tired but rested. The cats are happy to see me but there is still no sign of Poldar.