Donna Rae and I set aside the Labor Day weekend for a short trip to camp. Last weekend we left on Friday and came home on Monday and packed in as much outdoors activity as we could.
We devoted the whole morning on Saturday to fishing for wild native brook trout at Antler Run. We walked in during the early morning and listened to the fast-flowing waters and the songbirds in the hemlocks and the breezes blowing through the ferns covering the forest grounds. We hiked more than a half mile before we sat on a log and relaxed and put our fly rods together. We laughed at the idea of taking a break before we even started fishing. But the late-summer foliage was stunning to look at and the deep woods air felt cool under the hemlocks, and we sat and enjoyed before we tossed our first lines in.
Which D-Rae executed pronto. She found a fast pool that ran up under a stack of tangled branches in the water and formed a possible trout haven under the structure. She drifted her offering nearby, and a small brook trout bolted out and took the bait and dashed back toward cover. D-Rae set the hook and played the fish until it snagged her line in the roots of a streamside white pine and got away.
No worries, though. We found a great-looking trout hole a short ways upstream, a deep plunge pool below a heavy fallen tree. Donna Rae caught 3 fat brookies one after the other, and even I landed one, a hefty wild brook trout that measured 7 inches long and sported a dark green back and orange belly, signs that autumn would soon arrive on the stream. We found another sweet-looking spot 100 yards upstream and one more 50 yards beyond that. Donna Rae took 2 trout from the first hole and one out of the second as I mostly observed. She ended up with 6 small but beautiful wild brook trout compared to my one, but I don’t keep score, for the obvious reason.
Saturday afternoon we completed a short hike 2 miles upstream along the Allegheny River and 2 miles back along the dirt-and-gravel road. Those 4 miles plus the trout walk tired us out, so we settled in at camp and built our afternoon campfire out back and put up a 2-person tent for shelter from the predicted rain and hung up a one-person hammock and set up 2 campfire chairs and felt like we were set for the trip, whether we got downpours or sunshine.
Donna Rae loves to sleep out under the million stars that light up our deep black sky in the mountains at night and to crawl into our backyard tent when rains threaten, while I prefer to hunker down inside camp. So we did both. We tended campfires day and night, roasted hot dogs over the blaze, and sipped comfort drinks until late at night. Donna Rae tried out her new hammock out beyond the fire, while I tested the worth of my reclining camp chair. During the wee hours we retreated inside the tent. Pooh Kitty came with us this trip and she enjoyed snuggling among the sleeping bags during the cool nights.
Sunday morning Donna Rae put her kayak into the river down below camp and paddled 6 miles downstream past the village of Tidioute for a rendezvous at the Tippycanoe Inn for lunch and some good conversation with our friends Frank and Roxanne Pagley, the owners.
Monday morning the big rains began to fall, and we packed up our Jeep, watched the rainfall from the haven of the front porch for an hour, and then headed home. As always, we missed camp badly from the moment we left.
Don Feigert is the outdoors writer for The Herald and the Allied News. His latest book, The F-Troop Camp Chronicles, and his earlier books are available by contacting Don at 724-931-1699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Browse his web site at www.donfeigert.com. Or visit Leana’s Books at the mall or in the Grove City Outlets.