Mapping It

Oh, the fishing has been slow to non-existent due to the continued drought conditions here, but I’ve been busy writing, working and otherwise driving down the roadwaysOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA mapped inside my muddled brain.

I was pleasantly surprised by a blogging pal at OldPlaidCamper, who included something like a book review of Earthstars, Chanterelles, Destroying Angels inside a wonderful post called “Another Glance Back at Summer,” (9/16/16). I’ve been following OldPlaidCamper for at least a year now, and highly recommend the blog for its excellent writing, photography, and nature reflections based in western Canada. Check out those good words written about my poetry collection and, while you’re at it, enjoy a multitude of other posts written by one of our finest outdoor bloggers!

book w/ alternate covers

book w/ alternate covers

If that ego boost wasn’t enough, I was also pleased to find one of my recent photos included in a fascinating musical and photographic tour of the blogosphere by Rommel in his 400th post at The Sophomore Slump. Click it and enjoy the ride!

Leighanne and I recently spent a day at Slate Run, attending a meeting of the Slate Run Sportsmen, a group that’s long worked to preserve the pristine environment of the Pine Creek Valley and especially the trout habitat of Slate Run, itself. I attend the meetings regularly, not only because I function as a trustee, but also because the gatherings are enjoyable, informative and, yes, because the lunches are pretty doggone tasty! Also, it’s often a place from which I can launch out for another fly-fishing jaunt on either Slate or Cedar Run.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At this particular meeting, we found the long-awaited map of Slate Run (Slate is one of national Trout Unlimited’s “Top 100 Trout Streams”) ready for sale to one and all. Ted Piotrowski and I received a complimentary copy of the $20 map (a large version exists for $55) for our role in the production (Ted worked GPS from the road while I lined up natural features of the run, i.e., its major pools, ledges and access points). My contribution was based primarily on “A Slate Run Odyssey,” my fishing tour, as well as from info gathered by old-time regulars on the stream. It was good to see our work come to fruition. The process had been difficult at times– getting the survey done, gathering and selecting information, sorting it, then sending the map, with photos and all, to press. The teamwork by everyone involved was super.dscn9389

As one of the initial designers, I had an issue to be settled. Slate Run, beautiful and wild, is not an easy stream to access over its 8-mile length. It flows through a rugged gorge on state forest land, and the gravelly Slate Run Road rarely makes a close approach. There are, however, pull-offs at various locations that have unmarked pathways to the run. These minor pathways are precipitous and known to very few people. Would mapping Slate Run on a major scale make the fly-fishing-only destination too damned easy for the masses, thereby ruining the sense of wildness and solitude for those who learned about the stream the hard way, through sweat and personal exploration?dscn9394

It’s a question I grappled with before finally deciding to get involved and doing the map. We decided that producing a detailed map for fly-fishers and other nature lovers would benefit the stream and its environs in the long run. There are many threats to Class A trout streams in the region, even to those like Slate Run that have state forest and other environmental regulations applied to them. I think of the hydro-fracking boom, for example, taking place in the surrounding areas, and of pressures from other fishing groups trying to open up the stream for stocking and the use of all tackle. Special habitats like Slate Run are saved by public support. In this case, it’s public support for a pristine environment with hiking, hunting, and fly-fishing-only. For larger streams with plenty of wild fish, support isn’t going to come by trying to keep them a secret.

ok, i'll take credit for naming it-- the dripping ledge!

ok, i’ll take credit for naming it– the dripping ledge!

After the old fishermen die and enter the Elysian Fields for their eternal casting at the streams of paradise, there needs to be a set of ways for keeping the Slate Run places close to the heart. Hopefully they’ll be saved by others willing to stand up and giving them a voice, people who have learned about them and appreciate their special qualities, thanks to personal experience. Hence, the reason for producing the Slate Run map.dscn9391

So, the ego got a boost from the kindness of people like my blogging friends and the Slate Run Sportsmen. It was time, then, to go humble, if you will. I started thinking about my own demise.

3 apples wanted their picture taken...

3 apples wanted their picture taken…

Say what? No, I’m not ready to abandon the rivertops yet, but hey– everyone dies, even those who think they’re too precious for elimination, so it’s probably a good thing to reflect about The End occasionally, especially when the autumn harvest starts to fill your bins.

life, not death, above the hollow...

life, not death, above the hollow…

Since I disdain the notion of standard funeral practices, and find that even crematory practices aren’t much better than the burial of a toxin-drunk corpse, it was interesting to learn of the Mushroom Death Suit.

It’s a body suit completely safe, organic, and made from natural cotton. Laced with “infinity mushroom spores,” a corpse in the mushroom suit decomposes quickly without leaving toxins in the ground or the air.

low water, Cedar Run

low water, Cedar Run

Sure, it sounds a little uncomfortable at first. You like to eat and don’t exactly relish the idea of being eaten by mushrooms, but it’s something that I, for one, would like to consider for that time when the mortal coil is sprung. Many of us need to come to terms with our own death, and here’s a possible alternative… At long last, your life, shrouded in mushrooms, can leave a clean, pollutant-free compost.

Long researched and finally on the market, the “Infinity Burial Suit” isn’t only cool looking and sensible, it’s also economical, retailing at about $1,500– or about one-sixth the cost of an average cremation, and one-eighth the average of traditional burials.

a pool on Cedar Run

a pool on Cedar Run

I hate to leave on a morbid note, so I’m glad this talk about mushrooms makes me think again about the title of my latest book. As the OldPlaidCamper says, the final poem there is “a wonderful tale” about an old guy, his septic-cleaning truck, and the memory of an outhouse that should put a smile on your face. Now, I wonder if planting mushroom spores might have eased my septic problems back in the day….

asters of the sea...

asters of the sea…

the trickle-down effect, or, what flows around comes around...

the trickle-down effect, or, what flows around comes around…

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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23 Responses to Mapping It

  1. Brent says:

    Wow! What a cool post, with lots to unpack. First, great recognition from fellow bloggers–keeping those correspondences close seems to pay dividends in cases like this. The Slate Run map, of course, looks fascinating, and I’m excited to look it over at the next opportunity. I’ll finish up by encouraging you to hold off on the need for a mushroom suit for a few more casts of the line and a few more beers (although not TOO many!).

    • Yes, thank you! I’ll have to get you one of those maps, if for no other reason than as payment for enjoying the perusal of your own self-created atlases while residing under this roof! I’m definitely holding off on the mushroom suit for a while. Have too many of those “90 Minute IPAs” to consume, one or two bottles at a time…(Too many of those all at once might require mushrooms prematurely!)

  2. plaidcamper says:

    Another splendid post, Walt! (thank you for the namecheck and kind words!)
    The Slate Run map is a fine effort, and the right approach to ensure a continued appreciation of all it has to offer. I don’t fish, but I do enjoy a map of just about anything, and the names of all the holes had me smiling and wondering about associated stories…
    This time of year seems to encourage melancholy thoughts, but let’s not rush for a mushroom suit fitting just yet! Certainly an intriguing alternative to the messier options usually on offer. Still, with a booming microbrew scene on the hop right now, there’s too much tasting to be going on with, and those rivers will top up and need to be fished., so hold on there! Enjoyed your photos, and had a chuckle at the trickle down. I hope good people make fine choices come November…
    (Rommel, I will check out your 400th post – right now, I crash each time I scroll down, but I’ll get there eventually!)

    • You’re mighty welcome, PC, and thanks again! Glad you enjoyed the gist of it all. Maps are always fun, even when they’re a lot of work. Oh, and I agree with you, too many micro-brews and trout streams to be sampled before the mushroom suit, but I think it could be a good idea for some who are ready… As for Rommel, if you click on my link up there, it should take you right to #400, the work for which must have been a labor of love!
      P.S. Yeah, if this country makes a piss-ant choice this November, I may be coming up to live near you guys! We don’t need an idiot tyrant on the loose!

  3. Les Kish says:

    All this talk of mushrooms made me think of Fantasia. Anyone else remember?

  4. Mark Miles says:

    Really enjoyed this. Glad to hear you’ve taken such an active role in preserving the river where you live. Love the idea of a mushroom-suit as well. 😁👌

    • Thank you, Mark, glad you checked out the idea of a mushroom suit. I think it has real possibilities, especially if it’s possible to lay out in a favorite garden (?). As for Slate, it’s a couple of hours from my home, but it might as well be home. It’s important to try to get involved with preservation efforts. I’m pleased that you have an interest, too!

  5. Salla says:

    Where can I buy your book?

    Also that mushroom death suite sounds great. Return to the nature. I’ve had “the Death Talk” with my husband, but it ended swiftly when the grumpy, just got home from work me just told him to throw me in the trash. Also if I’m ever put in an open casket I promise I will come back to haunt. Should have that talk again while being less grumpy.

    • Hi Sal– Yeah, we’re never too young (or old) to have the conversation, to think about the impact that our lives have on the earth, to consider the options if and when… The mushroom suit intrigues me. I agree that talking on the subject with your husband should be left to some mellow evening conversation, while on a walk, perhaps, or with a drink in your hand. It doesn’t have to be morbid, of course. Good luck! As for the book, you could get a copy by clicking on my sidebar link where it says Earthstars, Chanterelles, Destroying Angels. You can also click on FootHills Publishing in my Blogroll. That has ordering info from my publisher. However, I’d be happy to sell you a signed copy by simply sending your street address to me at For a total of $15 (payable when you get the book) I can send a copy right away. And thanks for your interest!

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    Congrats on the map. An accomplishment, regardless of any misgivings you might have had prior to commiting. As a romantic, library-frequenting youth drunk on Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, I always hewed to the notion that Natty Bumppo espoused, namely his request to let “my bones bleach in the woods.” The mushroom suit might be a little more agreeable to passers-by though.

  7. Doug says:

    This blog is great Walt. I would love to get back all the physical and mental abilities I once had. That is a lot of research and work you’ve done. Be proud of yourself brother. You deserve it. My writing and photography has taken a major hit over the years but I love reading about others’ excursions.

  8. Thanks Doug, glad you like, and always great to hear from you, have been wondering… Send me a letter sometime and let me know how things are going. Yeah, I still write letters…

  9. rommel says:

    That Rommel guy sounds like an awesome fella. 🙂 I don’t normally feature blogs I just recently followed, but I immediately detect your expertise and passion for what you do and that to me is inspiring. Even this post, the map project you worked on is highly impressive. The information on mushroom is whoa! highly interesting. Outstanding blog you have.

  10. You’re the man, Mr. Rommel, I appreciate it all, and am more than pleased to have met you and your delighfully travel-ish-ious blog!

  11. Great post. That mapping project must have been fun project to be a part of. I think it’d be fascinating to do something like that.

    • It was a fun project, Doug, and the rewards (all voluntary, of course) were multi-layered, from the actual field experience on out to the sense of local community that it embraces. I’d recommend it to any other group that might be interested in doing something similar. Good to hear from you, and thanks for commenting!

      • Hopefully I get the chance to do something like this one day. Not sure my club would ever do a project like this, but the handful of things I have done with them have been very worthwhile.

        I suspect I’d also struggle with idea of opening up a river to too many people with the map. It’d be a tough call to make.

  12. Doug,
    If you get an interesting idea, I’d suggest airing it to the guys. Sometimes people just struggle to come up with a lead on something, but I know what you mean about making that call on a map project or something similar. If you’re looking at a larger stream or other body of water, chances are it’s a not a secret fishing locale. If it’s a threatened body, then bringing out its special qualities can elicit public support (ideally) which is, as we know, necessary for legal protection. Anyway, I hope you have some fun with the idea!

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