I woke up at 4:30 yesterday morning and headed up to Penn's from my place in Lancaster. I was stuck in thick fog for most of the drive up until I gained some elevation around Lewistown. The yellows, reds, light greens, and browns of fall reached out through the fog once I got up int o the Kishacoquillas Valley. They were relentless and beautiful.
It was cold when I got up to Poe Paddy, right around 38 degrees. I put some miles on my waders and found a nice secluded section of Penn's. I spooked up some doe when I got to my spot, but one stayed on and followed close behind me (15 yards) and ended up standing and watching me fish for a good 20 minutes. Her fur was darkening, mottled, becoming the same color as the dried tall grass enclosing the riverbanks.
I had a great section of riffles and pools to myself all morning and was blessed with some nice fish and beautiful fall foliage. Every time I come up to this area, I fall in love with it a bit more.
Fall has to be my favorite time of year to be outside. Everything is trying to get its last bit of life out of world before things go dormant and hard. Trout seem more aggressive and leaves want one last look before they fall. The days start cold and end warm - perfect beanie weather. They browns were hitting the nymphs pretty consistently when they were swung close to the bottom.
After fishing all morning and into early afternoon, once my yellow stimulator stopped drawing attention, I hiked back to my car the entire time singing that Dylan line "I was walking through the leaves, falling from the trees..." from that masterpiece "Mississippi". I had to pause one last time to take in the whole valley and its wide range of color this time of year. I was easily reminded why I love Pennsylvania, especially in the month of October.
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.