The trip started with the alarm going off at 3am. After a quick cup of coffee, and a few more items loaded in the Dodge, we headed North. A quick pit stop in Berthoud to borrow a buddy's pop up camper, and we were on the way to the Mile. We were making good time until we hit the state line on 287, just miles short of the pass. All of a sudden there was terrible vibration and noise like we were dragging something behind us. Sparks flew from underneath the little Taos pop up as I yelled to my buddy, "Shut her down!" We crept to a stop on the shoulder and exited the truck. We were lucky to have a passing lane on our side to help with the limited traffic of 18 wheelers.
- Randy Hicks
Moving back along the drivers' side we immediately noticed we were lacking rubber. Not just a flat, the whole tire was gone. The rim had been reduced to a mere fraction of what it used to be. It was almost as if the wheel had exploded. We looked at each other in disbelief wondering how we had arrived at such a predicament. Thanks for having a spare. Let's get this puppy fixed and back on the road. 30 minutes tops.
As the mangled rim came off the hub our headlamps revealed the severity and cause of the problem. Somewhere in her travels the little Taos had run over a piece of baling wire. About a 50 foot piece that somehow grabbed a hold of the wheel and hub till it spun up nice and tight. We figure the wire either seized up the hub, or rubbed against the tire till it blew. Either case, we were lucky enough to have a multi tool with cutters to release the wire from the hub, and again she spun freely.
We slapped on the spare, tightened her up, and we were back in business. West Laramie Fly Shop should be open shortly, so we could pick up licenses, fuel up, and get to the Mile. As soon as we started to speed up I could hear and feel it. Something wasn't right. We pulled off the side and put on the headlamps again. It seems that when the rim blew, some of the flailing metal bent the rear side of the wheel well forward. When we let down on the jack it came in contact with the tire enough to rub a wear line in the last spare. We jacked it up, pulled off the almost ruined spare and looked at the sharp edge that was chewing up our last hope. The back side of a hatchet proved to be a good tool for camper body repair, and after watching the gnarled metal slowly bend back into place, we could give it a go again.
The rest of the interstate was negotiated without incident, the Hanna road was another story. The sub freezing temperatures were the only thing that allowed safe passage. The daily melting of drifted snow banks would have the road a sloppy mess by 10 or 11 am. The deep ruts and winding skid marks of previous travelers and fishermen were all over the place. This road may be impassible on the return tomorrow afternoon. March and April can always be an adventure getting into or out of the MILE.
As we pulled into the camp at split hole, a feeling of relief was sighed by both of us. We started to unload, then noticed the injured spare going flat. When things go haywire. Jesse said he would make the run into Casper for a replacement wheel and tire. I stayed to fish. I had him drop me at goose island and started to work up the west side of the Mile.
The first fish was a fat bow almost 18 inches long. The second didn't come till the top of the island, but once I found the spot, I caught a dozen before I looked at my watch and saw it had been almost 2 hours. Fish were eating the leech, the stone, and the annelid. My Scott switch rod was pushing 80-90 feet of line on some casts, and I know I had some long distance take downs that were over 100 feet downstream. This river is perfect for a 5wt or 6wt switch rod. You can chuck nymphs, swing streamers and soft hackles, or roll cast big stones and hoppers. You can reach fish that the single handers just can't touch.
A little while later I had fished up to the run just down from where we had parked the Taos, and I noticed she was all tished up and set up. I scanned the horizon for the silver dodge, and saw her headed downstream. I hiked back up towards the gravel road to get picked up and head back to camp. Jesse had found a wheel and tire at Wall Mart of all places. Seems all the Tire shops are closed on Sundays in Casper. I'll keep that in mind for next time.
The rest of the trip came off without a hitch. We did go home through Sinclair to avoid the rutted, muddy roads the Hanna route guaranteed. Fish are pushing up into the Mile for sure, and the lower runs seemed to produce best. Small swung soft hackles worked as good as the nymphs under indicators. Fishing should be excellent for lake run fish for the next several weeks. Purple san juans are hot right now, and Jesse fished one hard for the whole trip. We caught some nice fish but no "Mile Monster" on this go around. The weather was the nicest that I have experienced at the Mile to date. 55 degrees and no wind for one and a half days. The camping at the Mile carries a certain solitude that keeps me coming back. Should be about two weeks or so.