Tom Claycomb

Tom Claycomb

Last week, my wife, Katy, and I ran over to northwest Colorado to check out the Wild Skies Flat Tops Cabin, which is a couple of hours southeast of Craig. If you want to be off the grid, you ought to check them out. They do have Wi-Fi, but everything is solar charged. There are no electrical lines running back there.

Thirty years ago, I blackpowder hunted a lot north of there but never in this particular area. Proprietors’ Chip and Lisa Bennet claim that the Flat Tops are home to the largest herd of elk in America. I’m trying to figure out how I can go back archery elk hunting in a couple of weeks, but I have gotten slammed with projects worse than ever. It’s a scary world when you have a hard time fitting in an elk hunt!

When Katy and I arrived, we were greeted by Lisa and her family. They have three delightful, well-mannered kids who were a joy to be around. We unloaded and then sat around the table strategizing for a bit. Then I whipped out some rib-eyes that I’d brought, and we grilled them with corn on the cob, and Lisa heated up a pan of yams. We had a great meal and a pleasant evening.

Their family is very much into working with ways to preserve the wild mustangs, and they shared a lot of those ideas with us. Lisa is in hopes that Bass Pro Shops will build a store in Craig and preserve the local museum and incorporate it with a mustang project.

It soon got dark and they had to head home and back to their lives. The next morning, Katy and I dropped down to the river below the cabin. Even though it is a pretty large river, like a lot of mountain creeks and rivers, it was brushy and you had to mainly fish the holes. I was wanting to teach Katy how to fly fish, but it would have been a tough river to learn on.

So we soon decided to hike up the mountain and look for signs of elk. We hiked around a while and then decided to go exploring. We headed up the road through the Routt National Forest, and I assume towards the Flat Tops, but I didn’t have a map so I’m not sure.

We had a great day just being together in the high country. I’ve been gone a lot lately, and it looks like it’s going to get worse, so it was good to get away with my little bride. We didn’t get to stay near as long as we would have liked to have.

I had ordered some Bushka’s Kitchen freeze-dried meals for lunches while we were hiking, but they didn’t make it in before we left. I’ve got a backpacking trip lined up in a few weeks, so we’ll test them out then. It’s good to see another backpacking meal company hit the market.

There are a lot of high mountain lakes, rivers and creeks I’d like to have fished. To adequately fish the high mountain lakes, you need a canoe or small jon boat. Or what else works great are float tubes. It is hard to wade a lot of the lakes because they have a soft silty bottom and you sink down pretty deep before you can get out very far.

Then there are a million trails to hike, mountains to scout and all of the high mountain adventures to hit. I took my Riton Optics binoculars and got to do a little glassing but not near as much as I wanted to. I was hoping to be able to do some serious scouting for elk but we just ran out of time.

If you want to take your family on a getaway to a super nice lodge you ought to check out Wild Skies. More information can be found at The Flat Tops Cabin can sleep up to 14 people. It’d be a great cabin for family vacations, snowmobiling, fishing or elk hunting. It is a super nice cabin and a great place to use as a base camp.

To elk hunt, it would be a self-guided hunt. I think the smart thing would be to do a family vacation in July or August and combine it as an elk scouting trip. Then run back to elk hunt.

Well, our time soon ran out, and we loaded up and had to run over to Malad and visit Ron and Betsy Spomer for a few days on their Dancing Springs Ranch. That was a fun, kicked-back time to see our old friends. We did some shooting, filming and doodling. Then it was time to head back home and pound on the keyboard and crank out some articles. Don’t let the summer slip away before you do one more backcountry trip.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana.