Resist, Embrace, Go Wild

These impulses can appear at any time. Take this past weekend, for instance…

Resist: I went to Slate Run for a meeting when the weekend weather was superb. The place was packed with fishers, hikers, bikers, and kayakers. I paused on the stairs thatOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA led down to the tackle shop and grumbled quietly at the crowd. I made my exit, feeling anti-social, like a wallet in a microwave.

Progressive thought about hydro-fracking for gas in the Marcellus Shale seems to say that we need to get it but we need to do the work correctly… Sorry folks… In Pennsylvania the fracking is here to stay, and an emphasis must be placed on doing the state and corporate deed correctly and on a limited basis (if that’s possible), but there’s a moratorium on this high-tech drilling in New York and I hope that hydro-fracking for the state gets the royal boot. For good. There’s simply no correct way to rearrange the land and waters for the benefit of out-of-state drillers and their myrmidons. The time and money involved should be redirected at more sustainable energy sources (and the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhuman soul willing to sacrifice on “extras”). Subvert the dominant paradigm. Resist.

Embrace: I went to Slate Run and the mountain streams to enjoy some fishing. I had several CDs for a sound-track while en route. Arcade Fire, Television, and Roxy Music. The latter’s Stranded fit my darkened mood until I could ply the brookie waters. The dissonant guitar on “Amazona,” by P. Manzanera, can still raise the neck hairs after 40 years of hearing it, and “Song For Europe” is as hauntingly romantic as ever (lyrics sung in four languages and with a mind-blowing sax run by Andy Mackay). God, I was feeling like a young 30s dude instead of some Grizzly Adams twice that age.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

En route to our meeting place just north of Slate, I stopped the car in front of a fledgeling brown thrasher. The parent bird, fretting on a branch above the road edge, may have been relieved for its off-spring, or not, but the trucker who had to halt behind me braking for a baby bird was probably pissed. Okay, I brake for elementary thrashers and unsuspecting turtles in the road. I often root for the underdog. If it helps you understand, think of me as a tree-hugging socialist crank. Ain’t me, but I don’t mind. Embrace.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGo Wild: Dale and I opened up his vintage 30s cabin in the Susquehannock State Forest of Potter County. A couple of “turned-around” hikers who had strayed from the trail approached us at the cabin for help. With some guidance from a topographic map, we steered them back to the trail and their Cross Fork destination. Hopefully we knew what we were talking about. The two young guys were pleasant chaps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe entered the Hammersley Wild Area, the state’s greatest roadless area, and fished the excellent run. Being late in the day, we couldn’t outreach the influence of the farthest camp, so had to put up with some rowdies drinking beer and whooping it up while spinning fat tires through the small streams crossing the trail. An idiot wind blew through an otherwise tranquil evening as we caught some trout rising to the mayfly and stonefly hatch. As  a postscript for the day, a cloud of white Coffin Flies, the spinner form of the big Green Drake, settled to the riffles with a cargo of eggs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the following day I noted that the same impulses ruled within. My wife had been away for several days, so it was easy to return. I headed to a favorite brookie haunt, a tributary to the East Fork Sinnemahoning. The water was 59 degrees, F.. I hooked and released a wild fish on the first cast, and two hours and 20 trout later, I returned to the car.

This small stream, averaging only eight to 10-feet in width, is rife with brook trout abodes. Fine riffles, pools, and undercut banks. Three of the wild fish measured 10 and 11-inches in length. The sky began to cloud and darken. Storms were looming in the distance and approaching. They would have the final word, or two…



About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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20 Responses to Resist, Embrace, Go Wild

  1. LQN says:

    Thanks for sharing Walt. nice little tidbits.

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    Damn, man, your cool factor just went through the roof. Television huh? Marquee Moon is one of my all-time, must-have albums. They can bury me with that disc. Here’s a question for ya: how do you feel about Big Star? Another band I can’t live without. The Velvet Underground, too. On the fishing front, thing are really comin’ together – lots a bugs, eager fish, dries, nymphs, streamers, doesn’t matter, it’s all working. “I remember how the darkness doubled/ I recall lightning struck itself…”

    • “…Look here, Junior, don’t you be so happy/ And for Heaven’s sake, don’t you be so sad…” Ok Bob, here goes. Velvet Underground, sure. And on your recommendation, will give Big Star a serious listen (following a few feeble-hearted attempts) and will get back to you on that. As for Marquee Moon, that alone would take an entire post, maybe after being struck by lightning on the stream and coming out with my gray hairs on end and with a smile on my face. I’d ride a Cadillac into the graveyard and then get out again and just say thanks. That album has always been on my Top 3 of all time. I wouldn’t argue with critics who have said it’s the Number 1 of all time. Wow. Glad we share this.

  3. Beautiful water and fish. Never had a dragonfly hit my fly before. Interesting.

    • Thanks, F.C. It’s the second time in a year that this has happened to me, that a dragonfly nailed a dry fly in the air. I’m not sure if the dragon intended to prey on the “mayfly” or if it went to do battle or mate, or what. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who’s seen this happen before.The contact seems to give new meaning for the term “embrace.”

  4. Bob Stanton says:

    Walt, Big Star is an acquired taste, to be sure. After hearing bands I loved (REM, the Replacements) profess their love for Big Star, I was a bit underwhelmed upon first listen. I thought they were okay, but I didn’t get all the fuss. But, after repeated listens, the genius started to sink in. I like the stuff from their second album “Radio City” better than the first one. They may just be the greatest power pop band ever.

  5. I’ll give Radio City a listen today or very soon. I’ve heard about the excitement, and to be sure, many of my favorites have been acquired tastes for me, albums that only grew and grew. Beefheart, for example, and early Roxy Music.

  6. Mike says:

    This post feels like a raw rock and roll to me and I just dig that so much. Thanks for this one!

  7. Glad you dig, Mike, and thanks for being a great supporter of the rivertop scene.

  8. Leigh says:

    Awesome, my friend. Here’s to good weather and good fishing.

  9. You’re a revolutionary with a rod and reel!

  10. I don’t know about revolutionary, Jim, but with rod and reel makes it sound safer than with club and cuff!

  11. Les Kish says:

    Ah, the fracking issue. I can’t help but think that they are creating subterranean Superfund sites of epic proportions.

    What hatch were the dragonflies keying on?

  12. Superfunds, no doubt, Les, given that these drilling companies are not being held responsible for what they leave behind… History repeats itself.
    I can’t be sure what the dragonflies were up to, but a small Green Drake hatch was going on, and this one collided with an imitation.

  13. Alan says:

    Wild rewards are sweet.
    30’s cabin also sweet.

  14. Dale houseknecht says:

    Hi Walt I sure enjoyed that day I wonder if those hikers ever found there way out of the mountains .

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