Ah, a week later, and I'm slowly falling back into the "home for the summer" routine - waking up, drinking coffee, riding down the bike path to Shock's Mill Bridge, reading on the porch, and planning my next fishing journey. I've also had a bit of time to reflect back on our Vermont/New Hampshire road trip we just got back from. First off, we absolutely fell in love with Vermont. The greenness, the mountains, the vibe, the water, Everywhere we went, there was water and there were inevitably people enjoying it - fishing, rafting, swimming. It was great to see. We will be going back there, maybe for a long while some day. Montpelier was especially awesome.
The first piece of water I fished was the West River, which ran right next to our campsite in Jamaica State Park (great place to put up a tent, by the way). It's large water and would probably be great in the spring right after a stocking. However, it was more of a Warm Water Fishery during the time I was there. I got a lead on a small brook outside of Jamaica that I got to check out one evening. Big boulders, gravel, black bears. Great stretch of stream that put me on some beautiful Vermont natives. Jess & I also hiked up to Hamilton Falls one afternoon. I decided to take my glass 3 weight and got into a few small brookies right below the falls. This is how we do vacation - find a great little hike that takes us to a good place to sit and I meander down the stream fly fishing while Jess sits and water colors. It's a good life.
Rock Art Along the Trail
Eventually we made our way up to northern Vermont to a cottage we rented along the North Branch of the Lamoille. I got to stop in at Green Mountain Troutfitters for some intel and flies. A perfect fly shop - nice folks, willing to help, and even to laugh when I said LAMWHAA instead of LamOIL (not Frenchy...). We really dug that area - vibrant small towns, beautiful meadows that roll right up into mountains. The streams are different up there than the brooks I was fishing in the southern part of the state. Giant, round boulders giving into really fine gravel. As the gradient increased, so did the amount of random "potholes" formed in the swirling water. I got lucky and landed some wild rainbows on a yellow stimulator and rolled some nice browns with a crazy looking bugger that I picked up at fly shop.
We ended our trip with a few days in the White Mountains. Probably the closest to feeling like I was "out west" anywhere on the east coast - dramatic mountains and alpine lakes strewn throughout. Cool place, but way too touristy for our liking. I'm glad we saw it, glad I fished it and landed some beautiful natives, but it's not on our list to get back to anytime soon. It's a fine line between preservation and exploitation. It's hard for me to enjoy a place of natural beauty when everything is monetized - want to go see this cool flume? gotta fork over 15 bucks. Oh, you'd like to canoe on this lake? 20 bucks an hour. It's great to see these places "preserved", but sometimes I can't help but feel like they are being "loved to death", or in the case of the Whites, bastardized by economics.
One last thing - I think Jess & I are finally figuring out how to vacation. One of the highlights - the first night we got to Vermont it was raining. We set up our tent and canopy and sat in our gravity chairs (the ones Jess made us buy and which are amazing) and just listened to the rain hit the top for hours. That's vacation. We did miss Whitman and his stupid little face, which is why we are on the hunt for a small fiberglass trailer...
And because I've been listening to way too much Dead this summer (sorry Jess), here is a great "Eyes of the World" (gotta love that Lesh bass). Watch out for that dude with the fire.
I stumbled upon the name "Raftman's Path" walking the river trail that traverses through the little town I live in. It was named during the days when lumber was a huge commodity in this area. The Susquehanna River was an industrial thoroughfare - bearing down loads of lumber from the northern reaches of Pennsylvania towards the Chesapeake. Marietta was a stopping point, a place for the lumber either to go to the mills lining its banks or shoot further downstream through pig iron smoke. Raftmen would guide the lumber down to the mouth of the Susquehanna into the Chesapeake - an estuary of salt, water, lumber, ore, eel and shad. When their job was done, they would walk the raftman's path back through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster County towards their homes. The path is now wooded and meanders through some of the only "wild" places left in the county.