Christmas Tree

Lights fantastic: Vail's psychedelic Christmas tree

I try to hold onto the moment. Seven trout I'd be proud to release in an hour and half anywhere, hooked here, literally, metaphorically, and miraculously, from the depths of the Colorado winter.

No, I certainly couldn't have lucked out any more.

Two days after fishing the Eagle, however, I'm ready to try one of those 106 tributaries, and try it on my own. The weather, as the locals put it, has socked in with still more snow: even the 24-hour pisteurs can't keep up, and it's heart-in-mouth stuff to slice through virgin powder into yesterday's moguls waiting to trap your skis till runoff. Out in the "legendary" Back Bowls, our old friend Rich scares himself badly on a black run that ends suddenly in a 20-foot cliff, and even he vows to stick to the blues after that.

So, just because we can, we decide to ski hard on our last morning, fish the midday activity, and get back on the mountain again till the lifts shut.

I've already reconnoitred Gore Creek, the Gold Medal stream that fortuitously flows right past our "condo" - first on foot, one winter wonderland dusk, secondly from the cab of Alex's big silver Dodge as we thundered past on the Interstate above. It's surely no coincidence that the Gold Medal section starts slightly downstream from Vail's own little sanitation plant, human activity that raises water temperatures (and, presumably, nutrients) to consistent year-round levels and creates tailwater conditions in this otherwise swiftly-tumbling alpine stream.

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