After I had completed 6 weeks of ROTC Summer Camp, my mom and dad picked me up at Ft Hood, Texas and we headed off to Boulder, Colorado to visit my aunt and uncle, Cordie and George Howard, and their son, Milton. Milton had just finished his military obligation with the Army in Europe and it had been 9 years since we had visited them. At the time Boulder was not surrounded by Denver, but was a pleasant college town, later I found out just how liberal it was back then!
As soon as we arrived, Milton told us he had a big fishing trip planned – rainbow and brown trout in Big Thompson Canyon. Dad and I, being “flatlanders” couldn’t imagine why we had to go to a canyon to catch fish, but “when in Rome, etc”.
Up early the next morning we drove north up into the foothills and soon parked beside a railroad tunnel. Where’s the canyon? Why this tunnel? We’d find out soon enough!
Trekking through the tunnel, Moffatt Tunnel, it seems to be at least a mile long, through solid rock and every two to three hundred yards there was a cutout in the side, where, I hoped, we could get to before a train came through. I’m sure Milton planned the trip so a train would come roaring through while we were trapped in the tunnel. One did, of course, and we made it to the cutout in plenty of time.
We also found out why Milton told us, “Don’t forget your flashlights!” After we rounded a long curve, it was pitch dark in the tunnel! Once through, we walked for almost a half mile and could hear water flowing and saw a steep canyon wall on our left. Trying not to stumble and tumble down the slope, we went slipping and sliding, balancing our rods and lunches, until we reached the floor of the canyon and were greeted by the Big Thompson River flowing east toward its rendezvous with the Platte. We had “enjoyed” almost an hour of walking time from our car, through the tunnel and down the canyon wall.
As we tied on our small spinners, Milton commented, “Be alert for quicksand. There’s some scattered along the edges of the river. If you step in it, don’t fight it and I will come and pull you out.” Why did he wait until we were in the water to tell us about quicksand? Of course, when I was wading along, one step and the bottom disappeared. I had found the quicksand, but was quickly retrieved and went back to fishing.
Milton is sitting on the rock, while I fish, in Big Thompson Canyon, near Boulder Colorado.
I had one fish on and two more real nice strikes, including at least a twenty, inch rainbow that was on for several jumps and rolls, but when I reached down to grab hold, it got away! Milton and my dad had the same results, no fish, but lots of fun.
We fished until the sun was past the canyon walls then started our trek back. When we got back to the car it was completely dark inside and outside the tunnel, but what an unusual and exciting experience we had just completed, quicksand included!