By Andrew Todd
Andrew Todd is a dad, husband, research biologist, and fly angler. He leads the effort for the Rocky Mountain Flyathlon, and he loves to get his two daughters outdoors. Professionally, Andrew is a PhD environmental engineer with experience in aquatic and terrestrial ecotoxicology, hydrology, instream flow issues, water quality standards development, and general stream ecology. Andrew believes that by experiencing “wild” life (especially with kids), life can be really fun, interesting, and wonderful. SaraBella Fishing loves his passion about connecting girls with the sciences, the outdoors and in Wildness.
In retrospect, maybe it was a little crazy to drag my nine-year-old daughter and our Jack Russell on a work trip into the wilderness. Truth be told, during my many days in the Sand Creek drainage of the Great Sand Dunes, I have experienced the gamut of craziness, from freak September snow storms to a (thankfully) brief encounter with the largest black bear I have ever seen. Yet something compelled me to pull Kate out of her second week of fourth grade, load her and Eddie Vedder into the truck, and drive to the edge of the wild Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Throwing on our packs, we crossed over Music Pass, incentivized by frequent water breaks and a bottomless bag of mini-marshmallows. Once we had descended into the valley, we set up camp, scarfed dinner then freeze-dried double chocolate cheesecake, and crashed out in a heap of down.
Over the next few days, Kate patiently stalked a vibrant Sand Creek cutthroat trout with her fly rod, hooked it, brought it to the bank, and carefully released it. Her first cutthroat on the fly. We day-hiked to Lower, then Upper Sand Creek Lake where we caught more trout then belly-flopped its frigid waters. We lingered for hours in the shadow of the Sangres. And on that last night, we camped a little too close to the campfire that Kate helped build, where she heard my fish biologist colleagues use words that she has been told not to use in new and creative ways…
Sure, the logistics of taking a nine-year-old girl and her twelve-pound dog into the wilderness are complicated. And there is significant risk. So why do it?
On the brink of middle school, I want Kate to know incredibly wild places that she can revisit when times are hard, even if those visits occur only in her mind. I want Kate to know that the world is much bigger than the girls who will inevitably pick on her for being true to herself. I want Kate to seek out adventures that challenge her notion of what is reasonable. I want her to ask me to get her out there, wherever there may be, whenever she wants to go.
In Wildness is the preservation of the girl…