Couple Adds International Flair & Years of Knowledge to Wilder
Not only do homeowners at Wilder on the Taylor, a 2,100+-acre recreational and preservation ranch community located between the classic Colorado towns of Crested Butte and Gunnison, get to live the West by being owners of a historic ranch, they have access to master guides for outdoor recreation and a concierge.
Lu Warner, a master guide for fly fishing and mountain biking, and Antonia Beale, who leads Wilder’s new concierge program, not only bring years of experience to their roles, the pair contributes an international flair from their time owning and operating fishing and recreational lodges in Chile and Argentina, where they reside half the year.
Lu’s childhood years were spent fishing the small streams of New England and Quebec and his adult years brought him to Alaska, New Zealand, British Columbia, Quebec, Argentina, Chile and the Rocky Mountain West. Since 1985, Warner has worked as a fly-fishing guide in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, Argentina and southern Chile. He has guided the summers in the Crested Butte/Gunnison area since 2000, including five seasons at Wilder.
From October through May, Lu is in the Patagonia of Chile where he owns and operates the Valle Bonito Lodge, which specializes in fly fishing, hiking, multi-sport and family vacations offering activities such as whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, horseback riding and canyoneering.
What makes fishing at Wilder so special is the two miles of premiere private fishing on the Taylor River. “The tranquility of the river here is hard to beat as it is away from any roads,” Lu explains. “The river is an incredible wild fishery, and we do not stock it because we don’t need to. Most fly fisherman appreciate the challenge of fishing for wild fish and with over 6,000 trout per mile of river, we feel that we have one of the finest fisheries in the western United States. We do stock Rarick Creek which runs through the property, and our six ponds as they provide a great learning experience for kids and adults who have little or no fly fishing background.”
A testament to the health of this fishery is illustrated by a massive 32-inch rainbow trout Warner and a homeowner pulled from the Taylor River in an epic battle recently. Because the Taylor is a wide river and cannot be fished from just one side, it offers twice as much fishing per mile as most nearby smaller rivers. An avid fisherman can spend years learning the nuances of this stretch of the Taylor, he notes.
Antonia is launching Wilder’s new concierge program and was raised helping with and managing her family’s fishing lodge, El Encuentro on the Rio Grande River in the Patagonia of Argentina. She also managed the famous Arroyo Verde fishing lodge on the Traful River, located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park in northern Patagonia, and the upscale Henry’s Fork Lodge in Island Park, Idaho. Her 6-year-old son, Vicente, stays busy exploring the valley through a variety of kids’ activities such as outdoor adventures with Gravity Groms and Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory’s Kids Nature Camp and attends Crested Butte Community School for part of the year. Lu confirms, “He also getting to be a pretty good fly caster.”
Lu and Antonia bring a taste of South America to their roles at Wilder on the Taylor. “In Argentina particularly, there is a long tradition of fly fishing and guiding. When you have people for a week-long trip, your full day is spent with the clients not just 9 to 5. It is common to have a nice barbecue lunch along the river not just a quick sandwich, and there might be a siesta after lunch,” Lu explains. “One neat thing about spending time in Argentina and Chile is that they celebrate life more and don’t seem to be as serious about work as we do in America.”
With Antonia now on staff at Wilder, tasty midday lunches can be arranged and served on the lawn and in the Founder’s Porch. To continue the experience into the evening, there is nothing quite like dining on the lawn along the Taylor River with appetizers and a meal prepared by Antonia and enjoying a game of horseshoes, lounging in the riverside hammock and sitting around a cozy fire at dusk.
She also makes sure arrival of homeowners and their guests goes smoothly and that the ambience matches the pristine beauty of the place. For women who enjoy fly fishing, Antonia occasionally works as a guide and has shown a knack for putting people on fish and returning from the river with a big smile.
“Wilder on the Taylor is thrilled to welcome Antonia and the international touch of hospitality that she brings to the ranch. Antonia’s and Lu’s experience and approach to their roles as concierge and master guide fit well with the laid back family atmosphere at Wilder,” says Ron Welborn, partner at Wilder on the Taylor and an avid fly fisherman.
When Lu isn’t busy exploring the fishing waters at Wilder, he is making sure that accessibility to these waters is good and that the fishing program is top-notch. “The fishing this year has been incredible. The flows have been good and the fish healthy. You could go out from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. now with a dry fly and catch 50 fish. At the Wilder we have a 20-fish limit so the biggest challenge can be selecting larger trout to cast to. It will begin to slow down in August as July is a peak feeding time.”
Lu’s extensive background in mountain biking also is available for homeowners and guests at Wilder. For several years, Warner owned and operated Western Spirit Cycling, a mountain bike touring company based in Moab, Utah, and guided people from around the world on multi-day mountain bike adventures in Utah, Montana, Colorado, Arizona and Idaho.
“The common thread we are seeing in Chile, Argentina and here is that individuals and families want a variety of things to do in a day or a week and not always just fishing. We bring that philosophy with us to Wilder,” Lu notes.
Wilder on the Taylor also offers a master guide for ranch experiences such as moving cattle, horseback trail rides and more. To learn more about the master guides program at Wilder, visit www.WilderColorado.com.