Deerpath, Native Trail, Expressway

Flowing water can erode the toughest hills. The stream and river banks can guide the deer and other wandering creatures that adopt the simplest, most efficient routes for finding sustenance. The native tribes and pioneering humans came and walked the animal trails then built their homes and villages nearby. The centuries passed, inviting paved expressways to loop over hills and valleys on the most significant paths and walkways of our time.

Wild roses scent the morning air. I clear high grasses from the paths across my acres, the metallic blade swinging back and forth against the lush new growth as if retracing the original routes of man and deer. I listen to the rapid, rolling zi-zi-ZI notes of a prairie warbler and the dulcet tones of a wood thrush drifting across the hollow. I am drawn by the romance of frontier life and the unsettling notion that our early history and heritage become increasingly remote with time– a stream that’s swallowed by a river waving into the sea. A wild yellow iris captures and sustains my attention for a moment where I skirt a wetland near the house.

At its summer meeting on Pine Creek, the Slate Run Sportsmen group voted to deny support of a state proposal to increase ATV trails near the pristine waters of Slate Run. The group said (in essence), Not So Fast: development of motorized recreation might be good for area business but would be an incompatible use of public funds for a green place currently enjoyed through quieter activities such as fishing, hiking and canoeing.

I repaired from the meeting to the nearby gorge at Cedar Run. With fly rod in hand, I followed the trail of the wild trout, mountain laurel and water-thrush. Ah, yes! Here, the slower ways of nature, with a happy voice inside my head– an echo of those voices that could help apply the brakes to an expressway through the woods.

Wild brown rose & missed the barbless fly then hooked at the rear. It was quickly released…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Bonus track,” from my new sea & island-drenched collection Slow Sea Rising… available at Amazon as well as here….

For Tarpon

I cast long feathers on a hook,

Wishing I had fins.

My dreams lie underneath the waves.//

Learning how to snorkel

I can hear the mouthpiece say–

Nothing fits! Your brain is like coral

Scattering the blues.//

I cast long feathers every day.

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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19 Responses to Deerpath, Native Trail, Expressway

  1. UB says:

    Another great blog entry. Was great to see you at the Slate Run Sportsman’s Pat Eroh Summer Picnic RTR! Thanks for the new book and inscription – hopefully you’ve sampled the ‘Two-Hearted’ by now. Harry made it up Cedar – Brookies – 5 slipped off – one to hand – relatively nice one. He through the fly away that he lost all the fish on. Point felt sharp – don’t know what it’s issue was (bad Mojo?). Working on the SRS ATV Position Statement and not sure I have a clue how to do it but will give it a stab. Nice Brown by the way – take care. UB

    • Thanks UB. “Two-Hearted” quite tasty! It was good to see you guys again. Glad that Harry had some fun on Cedar, as did I. The afternoon stretch was slow but one pool in particular was active. Lost a nice one there.

  2. UB says:

    *Sportsmen’s …sheesh!

  3. Brent says:

    When progress isn’t necessarily progress…

    I will never understand why off-roaders can’t just enjoy their hobby without insisting that they be able to indulge it everywhere. You see this play out in places like Utah: not content with myriad lands that already allow off-road vehicles, they now insist that they be permitted to ride through ecologically sensitive or archaeologically rich sites, as well. I’m glad the Slate Run crew is fighting it there.

    • Yeah it’s crazy & I think the state is trying to stay competitive with neighboring states for a bonanza on the ATV boom, proposing some 800-plus New Miles of motorized trails for the northern sector. Off-roaders already have plenty of trail & road opportunities. They might increase their options in some cases where motorized use is already established (i.e., some snowmobile trails) but not legal for ATVs. They should stay clear of those sensitive areas important to wildlife & non-motorized use.

  4. Jet Eliot says:

    I really enjoyed your poetic opening paragraphs, Walt, drawing us into the quiet beauty of the natural surroundings. How lovely to see the wild yellow iris, and have the wild rose-scented air to breathe. Great, too, that you and your fellow sports people agreed to deny the ATVers, saving the land and those who appreciate the peace of nature. Wishing you great success with your new publication.

  5. tiostib says:

    A beautiful, poetic tribute to the wonders of silence and solitude on Nature’s pathways. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I can’t think of a better way to spend the day enjoying the beauty of outdoors and landing a few trout along the way!!
    Thanks for sharing

  7. Bob Stanton says:

    Tonight on the Allegheny I was serenaded (?) By several yellow billed cuckoos. I’m sure that they are gorging themselves on the gypsy moth caterpillars that have taken over the canopy this year. The vast majority of oaks on the hilltops have been decimated. It makes me wonder how they survive after such a brutal assault.

    • Bob, a similar situation seems to be occurring here as well, with the black-billed cuckoos coming in for what looks like an explosion of the gypsy moth caterpillars. The yellow-billeds could be here, too. We noticed caterpillars on the oak leaves yesterday. Haven’t seen this happening locally in years. I don’t like stomping on anything, but what else can we do?

  8. plaidcamper says:

    My own happy voice is cheering along, wishing you success with the ATV encroachment issue. Enough already, and I hope common sense and a sense of quiet purpose keeps your pathways and trails as places for contemplation and calm pursuits.

  9. loydtruss says:

    I can’t think of a better way to spend the day, landing some colorful trout and enjoying the outdoors. Thanks for sharing

  10. Don T says:


    Good for the Slate Run group not supporting the ATV desire in the Run. You only have to go to nearby Lyman Run to hear the noise and see the dirt and dust created by the ATV’s. Need to preserve the wilderness.

    Thanks for another good blog

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