The heat of the summer was getting too much. Coupled with the continuous rain, I was feeling cooped up with the river blown out. No bass fishing. No kayaking. Every bike ride ending in a rainstorm. I woke up last Sunday knowing I had to leave for a few days, shed some of this summer skin.
I decided to head down to West Virginia to check out some water. I camped near Seneca Rocks and took a few days to roam around the Monongahela National Forest. It's beautiful rugged country. Steep wooded hills flooded with rhododendron.I got into some wild rainbows, which was super cool. I met an old lady whose job it was to park at an intersection of two gravel roads six miles deep in the forest just to tell people not to turn left. Pipeline Construction. She warned me about the rattlesnakes. I kept an eye out for them the entire day. We talked about the storm coming over from Elkins.
I came across the Green Bank Observatory. A surreal place tucked deep in West Virginia. They listen to the universe there. Afterwards, I caught brook trout in the middle of a thunderstorm on big dry flies. This is the summer of rain. I drove down countless ravines. I drove up miles of mountain. It was a good week.
I ended it in western Maryland after stopping for some of the best burritos I've ever had at Hellbenders in Davis, WV. I caught brook trout. I had a fire. I fell asleep to the stream, the throaty call of the frogs, and the sharp gossip of crickets. It's been a good summer.
Whitman & I looking out over the West Virginian mountains from Spruce Knob.
We just got back from our short trip down to West Virginia. Man, what a beautiful place. We stayed in a nice cabin along the Glady Fork. Unfortunately, it didn't really hold any trout, but it was still idyllic. Only 5 hours outside of Marietta and we felt like we were out west or up in the North Woods.
Because of the length of the trip, I didn't get to do as much fishing as I wanted to. The only stream I got to fish was Seneca Creek - a really nice brookie (and wild 'bow) stream. We hiked down from the Witmer Road side. The water was really low so I ended up spooking more fish than I caught (and my dog Whitman kept running into holes). I did manage to land a few, all on little hare's ears nymphs. The hike itself was beautiful. The trail use to be a road, long ago. Over the years, its reverted back into a nice walking path.
A native West Virginian.
Seneca Creek Geology.
We were continually impressed with the shear beauty of the place and the varying ecosystems we encountered. The above photo is of Dolly Sods Wilderness. Right after this photo was taken, clouds started to pour in over the mountain and the trees become dimmer and a dew started to collect on our clothes. I hadn't felt like that since I lived in Maine and I would take naps on the side of Katahdin during our lunch break.
This is the view from the Spruce Knob overlook. Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia sitting at 4863 Ft. It's an easy drive up to the top and affords some great views. On our way there, we stopped to hike around Seneca Lake. Once again, I felt like I was back out west meandering around an alpine lake. Next time we go back we'll be bringing our kayaks along.
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.