We rappelled off Baxter’s Pinnacle and cruised the rock spewing gully down to our packs to change into less toe-smashing footwear for the walk back to the boat dock to cross Jenny Lake. With Teton climber highs we found our way back to the American Alpine Club Climbers’ Ranch, by way of a couple pints of Moose Drool on the deck at Dornan’s. Back at the Ranch I made dinner in the cooking pavilion, Stephen made a friend and found motivation. Robert, a self-made New York style millionaire who had appointed himself mayor of the Ranch for the week, was cleaning fresh caught trout and happy to show a novice the simplicity of preparing trout for a grill or foil pocket. We liked eating trout, but I never thought I would see Stephen catching it. I was apparently lacking imagination.
The next day we were between climbing ambitions and Stephen woke to proclaim this was the day we would start trout fishing. Off we went to Jackson to acquire a cheap rod and reel with line, some spin-cast lures, and out-of-state licenses to get us by for a few days. I was skeptical so held off on pre-purchasing the garlic, lemons and EVOO we might want for poaching hypothetical trout. Mistake. We went back into the park and hiked with purpose to Taggart Lake, a gorgeous little gem protected from the masses by an aspen covered and boulder strewn moraine. First casts were clumsy on our shared rig. Stephen caught on quicker and yelped when the first trout snagged on the spinner. It was a beautiful, good-sized rainbow. Despite the national park preference for catch and release, we wanted the experience of eating our fish, so we kept “Big Ted” and spun out casts for several more hours. Mid-afternoon a lazy looking black bear meandered to the opposite shore, sat awhile with snout to the water and then dipped paws in the lake and pulled up a trout. Show off.
After another trip to Jackson to get the groceries I neglected to acquire in the morning we returned to the Ranch. Stephen cleaned the fish. I cooked it. “Mayor” beamed with pride that his pupil had a good first day of a new obsession. It was a memorable and delicious meal after a day that had been quite perfect at a crystal clear, not horribly crowded lake at the base of the Teton Range. There were more fishing days that trip, but no more fish. It didn’t matter. We were the ones on the hook.