I have been told the common name is Hemlock Varnish Shelf and the photos do not do the actual colors justice.
As we neared the trailhead Chad decided to do a little more fishing while Ross and I headed back to camp. When we returned to camp, we found another pleasant surprise. The Forest Service employees had gone and cut us enough firewood to supply us for a week's worth of fires!
We also caught the eft stage of the red-spotted newt.When Chad returned to the car he reported good numbers of the wild browns while I reported good numbers of yellow and lime sallies.
On the way back to camp we passed a beaver pond on the edge of the road. Ross had never seen a beaver so we told him if he called for him he would come out of his hut. I laughed until I nearly cried as Ross rolled down the window and continuously yelled, "Here beaver, beaver, beaver!" No luck, he wasn't about to come out.
Chad decided to try his luck one last time before dark. He would fish the low-water bridge at the campground entrance. This pool would produce a couple of items, a stocked golden trout on a dry fly and a dunked camera.
Once back in camp, it was a nice fire and an early bedtime for Ross. As Chad and I sat around the fire, our neighbors returned with a glow stick gift for Ross...genuinely good people!
The next morning was an early one with the limestone bucket brigade scheduled for 9:00 AM. Not only was the morning early the night was short as the air mattress Ross and I slept on went flat and spent most of the night sleeping without an air pad.
As usual Ross was the last to wake. A quick cup of camp coffee and we were off across the Scenic Highway. Ross would sleep the entire length, as well as through the volunteer gathering and the trip halfway back across the Scenic Highway. I would have to wake him when we arrived at the dumpsite, after about twelve hours of sleep.
This would be the second bucket brigade effort and my first - first as a coordinator also. I was amazed at the number of volunteers that showed for THE most physically challenging TU effort I have ever been involved with. Ross would assist by delivering drinks and snacks up and down the line.
Here's the process:
Limestone fines show up on a flatbed trailer.
Limestone fines are transferred to buckets.
The full buckets were dumped into an extreme headwater stream - actually just a trickle.
Then the entire process starts back again. This process worked very well and the final numbers were:
- 50 volunteers
- 570 full buckets
- Over 14,000 pounds of limestone fines (4 flatbed trailer loads)
- 7 of 8 active WV TU chapters were represented
I am already looking forward to the 2010 bucket brigade! I am also looking forward to increasing the pH to the point where the native brookies return to this watershed.
The end of the bucket brigade did not signify the end of the weekend. I also had plans to take Ross to the Cranberry Glades, a misplaced arctic tundra/bog high in the Allegheny Mountain.
I had not been to the Glades since Spring Break of my junior year of college (1989). What I remembered was Venus flytraps, sundew plants, and pitcher plants.
Apparently when I was last there it was before spring kicked in and everything "greened" up. The ferns and other foliage had grown to the point I could not locate the flytraps or the sundew, but I was able to spot a few pitcher plants.
The pitcher plants were also apparently in mid-bloom.
When I returned to the vehicle I was told I could have taken a much easier photo of the azaleas across the road on the edge of the wood line. Thanks for pointing that out ahead of time.
In addition to the wild azaleas, the mountain laurel is starting to pop and the rhododendron is still a few weeks away from peak.
This would be the second stream of the weekend to support both native brookies and wild, reproducing brown trout.
Ross and I also had quite a time trying to get a photo of this giant stonefly; he was a viciuos little guy.We decided to try our luck on downstream, but we would not have the same luck as Chad had the evening before. We each moved a few fish and I missed a decent little brown, probably in the 12" - 14" class. While we were moving upstream, we had to continue to wake Ross as he was trying to take a nap on the streamside rocks.
We would try one last spot before returning to camp for the evening. This time I would put the rod in Ross' hands to keep his eyes open. Ross and I did not see a fish but Chad caught this brown with a brilliantly colored adipose fin.
After this fish we called it a day....a long, rewarding day.
On the way back to the campground we passed the beaver pond again. Again, Ross leaned out the window and yelled for the beaver to come out of his hut. This time the beaver was actually out but before I could change to the telephoto lens he was gone. This was the first beaver Ross had ever experienced. It's just a shame that beaver didn't decide to slap his tail, I would like for Ross to have experienced the sound that has caused me to mess my shorts on several occasions.
While I built a campfire and Ross played at the neighboring campsite, Chad again spent the final minutes of daylight fishing. This evening would produce all brook trout but no pictures.
A nice campfire and a visit from a friend would be a great end to a great day. Fortunately our friend had a spare air pad, which would be a nice buffer between the self-deflating air mattress and the ground.
I slept much better that night and I awoke early. While Chad and Ross slept, I made a nice cup of coffee and went fishing for about an hour. I caught a couple of brookies including a nice one on top. Upon further inspection, this is one lucky brook trout. If you look closely you can see some type of claw/talon marks between the pelvic and anal fins.
When I returned to camp Chad had already started packing. We quickly broke camp, packed the vehicle and headed across the Scenic Highway. The Scenic Highway is always a beautiful drive and you never know what to expect, for instance: views that could be confused with the Great Smokey Mountains.
Chad and I decided we would hit one more stream on the way home, it is an "old reliable" stream for me but Chad had never fished it. Ross wasn't too thrilled but I would put the rod back in his hands to keep him interested.
It wouldn't take long for Ross to catch his first brookie. Just as it happened a few weeks back, Ross' first brookie went sailing over his shoulder and I had to duck to keep from eating it.
The next fish was caught on video, for proof to Ross that I wasn't helping him.
After Ross landed a couple of brookies he became the expert, offering advice to Chad and me. It was the most Ross had talked all weekend and he even let me catch one.
I know this is my typical entry. Five brookies and I only caught two of them, but I'm trying to get Ross to experience as much of West Virginia as possible t keep his interest peaked.
I did however add two more brookie streams to my list, which makes nine new West Virginia streams for 2009.