Thursday, September 1, 2011

Appalachian Trail, White Lake, and Tilcon Lake Fill Out a Re-Routed Day

We suspected something like this. Although the state park campgounds all remain closed after Irene, as I expected, Camp Taylor, a private enterprise, is open. We did prepare to spend tonight there--possibly. The plan involved taking Blue Mountain Lake Road to Blue Mountain Lake, then to Long Pine Pond, and then Skyland Road (probably unpaved) right along the top of Kittatiny Ridge to Crater Lake. I know bass and pickerel exist at least in Blue Mountain Lake, at least the lower lake, since Matt Bruen, a blogger from Pennsylvania, has caught them ice fishing. Blue Mountain Lake Road was closed.

We drove on idly planning what to do next, and found the scene pictured above where recently we fished the Flatbrook at the lower bridges, where an old iron bridge exists no longer in use. I really hate to think of how long it may be before this road is repaired. (And the Empire State Building was built in 18 months!)

We turned, headed out on Millbrook Road (Mine Road closed beyond this point). At ridge top, we found the Appalachian Trail, parked, and hiked on up about half a mile. Here we found a tannic beaver pond with too little open water to provoke me to return for rods. But the opposite side had lots of broken schist that looked good for encountering and photographing timber rattlesnakes. We made our way around and down through underbrush and briars, coming upon a walking stick, the third insect of this kind I've found in my lifetime. 

Among the schist, we explored crevices and crannies extensively, finding nothing, although so many frogs crashed in along the edges of the pond that this just seemed further evidence of the absence of snakes feeding on them. It did seem ironic to me that we had found so many snakes on Wildcat Mountain, a mere hump compared to this ridge, and that the ridge here had such a hollow, absent feel to it, like the way flat pieces of splintered schist would sound like kilned clay (schist is igneous) when cracked against a boulder. But I love that sound of baked rock, although it doesn't suggest the lushness of living presence. It suggests art more than nature. 

Rolling down the ridge, I decided we would drive into Stillwater, a new place for us. County Road 521 took us to White Lake along the way. This once giant sink hole is as gin clear as Round Valley Reservoir by what we could judge from shore. It doesn't deepen as quickly. We tossed Senkos and that Baby Torpedo at the launch site (cartop only) after a hike to a hemlock grove. A 10-inch bass did scope out my Senko, then turned. Looks great. If I owned a canoe.

Reaching Stillwater (the Texaco sign from the 50's or what have you is neat), I had already decided to drive back through Andover and take the right at County Road 604 to try the old Tilcon site, also new to us. Good-sized lake, must be 80 acres at least, very deep. And seemingly tough to fish. We fought giant mosquitos for 45 minutes for a little bass's tug at my Senko. But I'm positive very big bass exist here. Plenty sunfish do, always a good sign. 

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