The trail goes straight down to the bottom of the canyon to the beginning of the designated wilderness. I remember my first visit a few summers ago when I was lured up the trail. It was August and late-afternoon thunderheads were swirling around the peaks, but I judged that they were breaking up. I had told my family I would be hiking up Tin Cup Creek, but I wanted to just check out the trailhead in the next drainage. Parked at the top of a mountain was one other vehicle from Minnesota. I thought to myself that I would just hike down to the creek, sample the fishing and head home before it rained.
I stepped down the trail at 1:45 pm knowing I would have to retrace my steps uphill on the way back, which seemed unusual. Shadow, my black Labrador, was eager. When I was a Boy Scout, I remember a father complaining about how difficult it was for him to walk down a steep trail. At 10 years of age, I thought it was the most ridiculous notion I had ever heard. I reached the bottom at 2:18, and my knees were already swollen. The narrow, glaciated canyon walls bring early shade to the creek. Shadow and I stood over a small pool and watched a number of six-inch cutthroats cruise and feed right in front of us.
With my Polaroid sunglasses I searched the dark crevices and spotted a larger fish. I hurriedly tied on an Elk Hair Caddis and caught three 9-inch trout in two little pools. I walked up the trail five minutes and repeated my catch. I looked at my watch and made the decision to head up to the lake, knowing I would have only an hour or so to fish before I would have to head back down the mountain and then up the mountain to my parked truck.