The river came into view, roaring, and spitting white between cabin-size boulders. It took us nearly three hours to make it to the bottom, where the canyon floor, strewn with millions of years' worth of falling rock, offered not one square foot of level ground. Everywhere were giant ramps of talus, piles of stone, and immense, precariously balanced boulders. Near the base of the trail we descended, the Gunnison is almost completely blocked by a colossal wall of rubble, silo-shaped granite blocks with-seemingly-no handholds and no way to climb over them. But on the other side was a pool that, from 2,000 feet up, had suggested prime fishing-and in fact may never have been fished before. Our plan was to make camp and try to climb the wall the following morning. So we followed the current downstream along an ankle-turning footpath, and after a mile found one of the few places you can pitch a tent in the canyon. It was a grassy spot about the size of a putting green, at the base of a talus slope. We pitched the tents and ate lunch. Tony headed off with his camera and tripod, Dave went in search of a way over the wall for the next day with Hewey along to belay him, and I sat at the river's edge, kneading my aching thighs. Picky Fish, Falling Boulders
But I had come to fish.. So I tried the big pool that our campsite overlooked, a place I came to call Disappointment Hole. Boiling rapids, the water fizzing like seltzer, marked its head and foot. Here the Gunnison runs a frigid 45 degrees and the current is so swift you don't want to wade in above your knees. Heeding the advice of park rangers, I didn't want to wade it at all. I hopped from rock to rock along the river's edge, frustrated by trout just out of reach and cracking at every midge and mayfly in the pool except the imitations tied to my leader.