Rainbow Lakes & Rocket Man

A ‘trip’ to Rainbow Lakes

By Edward Simpson Oct 16 2019

Santino had an ancestral tackle box, passed down from grandfather to father to him, and he didn’t know what was inside. Whereas, I had crankbaits, pink Senkos, Bud Light sporting a Bronco, sativa, and a Suburban that didn’t quit often.

We shot off down 36 over the hill into the Bubble, stopped at Burger King to snag some Maple Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches, and turned up Canyon Road toward Rainbow Lakes. We veered right off a side road, turned onto a dirt road riddled with grooves, rocks, potholes. We had three miles to go at 3 miles per hour. I didn’t want to ruin my suspension, but it would take too long.

Santino said, “Do it.”

I turned the Rolling Stones up, kicked it into high gear and pushed down the road, skipping like a rock.

Santino said “Turn it up.”

Pines rolled by in a green blur, a cloud of dust shot up behind us. We arrived, unpacked and took off toward the lakes. A wooden map at the trailhead showed one way. We were there to take something back — a fish, a story, a sunburn.

On the way to Rainbow Lakes. Photo: Edward Simpson.

We made it to the lake and I cast my line. Ripples expanded. Water was clear, I blew smoke in the wind and hoped, but fish weren’t biting. It was too hot and they were all hiding in the weeds.

“You want to walk on the trails and see if we can find a better lake?” Santino asked.

“I’m fine with that.”

Sure enough, we found a better lake right beneath a snowcap view. Ripples emerged where fish snagged bugs off the water surface. A fly fisherman whipped his line back and forth, glanced at us, and said, “They’re biting good today.”

We climbed over a dam. On the other side, a man slid a hook into a worm’s belly. We skirted around the bank, set up our chairs and cast a line.

Fish swam everywhere I looked, but none showed interest in me or my line. We spent the rest of the day under the sun, swatting bugs from our necks, breathing another elevation, talking about deadlines we’d never meet. Birds tangled in the canopy. The sun lowered down to the mountain top.

Dropping a line in a Rainbow Lake. Photo: Edward Simpson.

Santino told me of an all-you-can-eat crab leg dinner he had to get back to that evening, so we smashed our beer cans and reeled our lines. The hike back rolled downhill.

Rainbow Lakes offered a dip into a new, quiet world, void of Boulder’s angst and Denver’s crowded metro roadways. The alpine soak flushed all Front Range inflammation from the system.

On the way back, we skipped over divots, potholes, jagged rocks hauling fast out of the park, and came across a Jeep cautiously navigating up. The driver and passengers gawked, slowing to a full stop, unaware. They didn’t know, but they would.

There was no other way out, but to let go, and burst “Rocket Man” and jiggle the moon out of the sky. Night was dropping in. We laughed hard, and our bellies bounced, a tear stumbled down my cheek, and that was enough.