Story and Photos: Rocky Mountain Retreat

By: Orvis Staff

Maple (left) and Jett are always up for wilderness adventures.
All photos by Becca Skinner

Shed antlers, thawing streams, and snow-specked hikes: for Doug and Corrine Garvey and their rescue dogs—nine-year-old Brittany spaniel Maple and eight-year-old Lab mix Jett—spring in Colorado is an invitation to adventure. From their home base in the Rockies, outdoor enthusiast Corrine and Orvis’s Denver Area Regional Business Manager Doug make the most of their backyard, taking every excuse for float trips and field outings they can get. Thankfully, their dogs make it easy. As Doug puts it, “We lucked out with a fishing dog and a hunting dog.” Even though she spent the first seven years of her life without setting foot in a field, Maple’s keen instincts have proven that the knack was there all along—and that old dogs can learn new tricks. Jett leaves the fly-casting and fish-landing to his people, but his love of the water and fascination with the fish has made him both a patient passenger on float trips and an enthusiastic wading partner.

We joined this talented crew on a recent outing to a friend’s off-grid hut, situated at the base of the Grays and Torreys 14-footers, smack in the middle of the Continental Divide Trail, for a weekend doing what they do best.

Day 1: Streamside Adventure

Just mini road trip from the Garvey’s home, he cabin offers a view that would’ve been reward enough for the trek, but Maple and Jett’s excitement for the day is contagious and plans brewed over morning coffee. A short walk from the cabin, South Clear Creek was too tempting to pass up—and Doug and Corrine were rewarded with hungry, eager trout. After landing and releasing a few fish and allowing Maple and Jett to explore the river (and especially the mud puddles), the group took a moment to towel off and enjoy the view in easy silence, watching trout sip the surface and taking in the conifer-dotted mountains and snow-covered peaks jutting against the sky.

A true fishing dog, Jett confers on fly choice with Doug.

After few turns back on the water for good measure—making up for the long winter—hours passed easily, and it was time to take the long way back to the hut. The woodstove took the chill off, and the dogs curled in their beds, recharging for tomorrow’s adventures.

Day 2: On the Trail

A day fishing in the mountains made the peaks even more tempting. While it was too early in the season for the 14-footer Grays and Torreys summits, the trails nearby were reward enough, offering dramatic, high-altitude views of snow-capped peaks for the people and no shortage of entertainment for the pups. Corrine and Doug following their lead: Maple kept her nose to the ground, her ears kicking up scents, while Jett plodded ahead, glancing back at his people, tail wagging, as if to say “c’mon, let’s go!” The finicky spring weather cleared into sunny, blue skies, as the group scrambled up the steep trail, the dogs propelled by the occasional burst of zoomies. Reaching a good lookout spot, the pups and people took a water break, kicking back to soak in the scenery—views like these never get old.

The dogs are the guides on these hiking trips.

Slowly heading back to the hut, Corrine and Doug were already plotting another quick stop by Clear Creek to try their luck before packing up, while the dogs bounded ahead on the trail and back again, invigorated by the adventure with the promise of many more to come.

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