Every once in a while — well, actually more often than that — I get the urge to do some serious off-the-beaten-path exploring, which believe it or not you can do right here in Pennsylvania, and certainly in the Adirondacks and other areas of New York state.
Usually it’s with the hope of locating a trickle of water teeming with wild trout, but it can also be an excursion simply with the goal of seeing something memorable, maybe a black bear, bobcat, fox den or anything that would be considered a special kind of encounter.
And I go alone. On my schedule, in my truck, with my music on the radio (which could range from country and bluegrass to ‘70s rock and, given my CD collection, Celtic and Cape Breton fiddle), without worrying about whether anyone tagging along is enjoying the outing. Paula understands this need to get out there solo, although she isn’t thrilled with my adventurous ways, particularly as I grow older and, at least statistically, am more prone to the kind of missteps that could land me on the front page of the paper, as well as in the obituary section. We’ve cut a deal, however; I inform her of my general travel direction and pin it down enough that forest rangers and other agencies know where to establish the staging area to base their search efforts.
It’s worked out well to this point. I’ve never gotten lost (for any length of time), gotten the truck stuck or had a mechanical breakdown, always returned home within a reasonable time restriction imposed by Paula, and have enjoyed some spectacular days in some of the wildest of wild places — usually without encountering another soul. Along the way I’ve had some great fishing for wild trout and made mental notes to return again.
That was the game plan earlier this month when I set out from our base camp at Sizerville State Park. I was looking for one stream in particular, one that I won’t mention for fear of drawing too much attention to such a fragile fishery (and also for fear of getting pummeled by some fishing buddies who do know about it). Let’s just say that it was somewhere in Pennsylvania in a big-woods setting where you were highly likely to encounter deer, turkey and bear, but also had a good chance at seeing an elk. In this part of the state, that doesn’t really narrow it down to the point where my fishing friends get a little nervous.
For the record, I never located the stream. Well, actually I was closing it on it but by that time I had to get back to the campground before Paula alerted the authorities. So I guess that, to some, the outing would be labeled a bust. But it didn’t feel that way. I saw some incredible country, plenty of wildlife, including a pair of fawns that allowed me an up-close look, and at the very least learned where the stream wasn’t located. I called it a success.
And nobody complained about my choice of music.