Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend at a little piece of heaven known as Willow Flat, Calif.
Willow Flat is a small, spectacular valley situated at an elevation of 8,300 feet on the Little Walker River. That privately-owned valley is approximately 15 miles north and west of Bridgeport. It is landlocked on all four sides by a combination of U.S. Forest Service land and the Hoover Wilderness Area.
I was invited to be the weekend guest of Bob Leutzinger of Reno. He and his partner Chuck Selover of Carson City own the only permanent dwelling unit in the entire valley. Chuck and a number of his friends were to also join us there late Friday afternoon.
That weekend promised to be great, weather wise, with a forecast of nice, sunny weather with only a chance of a late afternoon thunderstorm.
I quickly accepted Leutzinger's invitation, having been a frequent guest of both he and Selover over the many years that they have been at Willow Flat.
My purpose in accepting the invitation was threefold: the great company of good, longtime friends, the always excellent food and drinks that we enjoy there and the outstanding fishing in that area for small, native, Eastern brook trout.
My plan was to hike on Saturday from their cabin to the headwaters of the Little Water River. That is a distance of about eight miles, one way. Once there, I planned to catch and release numerous brook trout as I fished my way back to the cabin in time for our usual late-afternoon cocktail hour.
Well, it didn't quite work out that way. Remember that old saying about "The best laid plans of mice and men..."
Unfortunately, sometimes things don't necessarily work out the way that you intend for them.
Leutzinger picked me up at my house at about 8 a.m. on Friday and by 10:30, we were safe and sound at the cabin. I quickly jumped into a pair of hiking shorts and tennis shoes to soak up the beautiful, high-altitude sunshine.
Then, we unloaded the food, drinks and supplies for our weekend stay. Following that, we enjoyed a leisurely, quiet lunch on his deck while discussing where to fish and what to use. Ominously, the sky was beginning to become more and more overcast with thick, very dark-looking clouds. I told "Leutz" that it didn't look very good and that we might get nailed by an afternoon rainstorm. If that possibility existed, I didn't particularly care for the thought of hiking a distance of some 16 miles at 9,000 feet in a wind and rainstorm the following day.
We decided to just wait to see what might develop on Saturday and that was one of my smarter decisions involving the Great Outdoors.
In the meantime, we decided to have some special fishing fun. On our way into the cabin, we had passed a California fish and game truck which was on its way out. It was the planter truck and I knew exactly where they would have planted the latest truck load of rainbow trout in that area.
We decided that it would be fun to catch and release those "planters."
I grabbed my fishing equipment and we drove to the small bridge on the Emma Lake Road. Sure enough, when we peeked over the edge, we spotted a large number of very nice rainbows in the small pool directly beneath the bridge. I quickly rigged up my fishing pole and began to have fun with the planters, while Leutz watched and smoked his pipe.
Then, it began to lightly rain. Slowly but surely, it began to rain harder.
Finally, we decided to return to the cabin to avoid getting soaking wet.
By mid-afternoon, all of the surrounding mountains were completely obscured and a very steady, cold rain was falling.
And it rained and rained and rained.
It rained the rest of that afternoon, all Friday night and into Saturday until about 4 p.m.
So, much for that miserable weatherman's forecast of "a chance of a late afternoon thunderstorm."
By late morning on Saturday, we were completely bored with being cooped up in the cabin, reading magazines, working cross word puzzles, playing solitaire, drinking coffee, etc.
We decided to drive into Bridgeport for a hamburger for lunch. It poured heavy rain all the way into Bridgeport, all the time while eating lunch and all the way back to the cabin.
Finally at about 4 p.m., the rain began to ease up.
We took a hike to the other end of the valley for some exercise after all those hours of sheer boredom. The temperature was only 48 degrees but it sure felt good to finally be doing something outdoors.
Then wouldn't you know it, Sunday morning dawned bright, clear and beautiful. Unfortunately, that was the morning that we had to leave to return home.
So, we loaded up and left Willow Flat.
In summary, the company, food and drinks were great over that weekend. However, I can say that based on the weekend's rain, the 1999 fire season at Willow Flat is definitely over.
- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you the name of two of the mountains that surround Willow Flat.
He might guess Mt. Emma as one of them, but he will probably not be able to name Mt. Walker.