Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hainesville Pond, Little Flatbrook, Millbrook Village Outing

Hainesville Pond has been on my mind for years now, and I must have been verbally introduced by Oliver Shapiro's Fishing in New Jersey: A Guide for Freshwater Anglers, forever after intending to come here. Well, we have been going up to the Ridge and Valley on Memorial Day weekend for many years, and finally I incorporated a visit, knowing full well that this 37-acre pond is notorious for weeding in early, but hoping my son and I could fish it anyhow. Actually, the wide angle lens from which I shot the photo, above, makes the water seem more open than really is. Although Scum Frogs and the like really would work, I just didn't have the heart to make the effort today, especially with a thunderstorm coming right up behind us, and so much water out there just spells out: Use the canoe or forget it.

Maybe in March or April. It's nearly June now and this place is very forbidding this late. And very shallow. Kind of interesting to find a Jurassic Swamp up here in the mountains. 

We headed back down U.S. 206 to connect with CR 615, arrive in Layton and the Little Flatbrook, indeed find a Division of Fish & Game posting behind a local venue that apparently doesn't mind people parking and walking in--everyone we encountered friendly--and yet, to fish this little creek, you really need to bushwhack and wade upstream with no trails to guide your progress, apparently. At any rate, that thunderstorm bore down, and before we could search any further, lightning and rain erupted as we drove off, two-weight TFO and Matt's five-weight with us unemployed.

Next stop Millbrook Village, although I felt very tired, we could possibly hike up along Van Campen's Brook and at least get some difficult fly casting in. The stream is noted for wild brown trout, but they don't come easy. Patricia and I hiked up a few years ago, and though I hooked a little one, we really need to hike further and fish harder to do anything more memorable.

I got a shot of the Millbrook Village Methodist-Episcopal Church that turned out better than it looked on the Nikon's screen. God's angry with us, wouldn't you say? And so the storm clouds faithfully hint at the truth, though the rain and thunder that came as an absolute deluge I can't show you, because I didn't capture that.

Before we geared it out with rain on our tracks again, Patricia and Matt caught up with two National Park employees, who, in conversation, told them the staffed event with open doors to various preserved buildings and period dress closed at 3:00, this to my wife's sadness, but there's always next year! OK. So I might have preferred to explore some other Ridge and Valley corner, but we can go to Millbrook Village...and hike the Van Campen's a lot further than last time.

Don't get me wrong. I had a wonderful time with the history here. But once might be enough?

We got pretty far up the creek, too. And I would rather wade the Little Flatbrook, but I can't imagine Patricia slipping on those wet rocks in good conscience.

We drove on down U.S. 46, after passing through the Water Gap enshrouded with fantastic cloud configurations, and as I drove past, I got that great view up the almost vertical rocks rising 1200 vertical feet...and what an adventure that would be, to climb that. Bet you'd get arrested, too.

And down along the Delaware, where once, many, many years ago, we stopped, got out fishing rods, and Matt and I fished as his mother witnessed. Yes, we caught smallmouth bass where the river runs very deep with jagged bank boulders in and out of the water. How many smallmouths, exactly, I don't remember. But those were days my son was really into the fishing.

To Johnny's Hot Dog Stand. The climax of the trip for Patricia. Well, before we got there, again, as this is the third year of that now, I stopped at the soft ice cream shop in Buttzville. Nearly 40 years ago, friends and I always stopped here, a landmark for us, as we drove from Lawrence in Mercer County to fish, hike, and camp in the National Recreation Area.

Don't misunderstand "outdoors people." Or at least not us. We don't denigrate culture, technology, and developed means, but we do believe in progress and making things of better quality and value, the invention of new applications more appropriate to reality. And that's what it's really about for us--the real world, whether exploring local history or enjoying a world class Broadway play in Manhattan, Beethoven's 9th Symphony in Morristown, or the Van Campen's Brook, a creek which happens to really exist and is therefore significant. Or using the mobile device to get pertinent info as we travel. (I haven't bothered to own one of those yet, but my son and wife do.)

 Little Flatbrook at Layton
 Well, you can wade up from here.

 Millbrook Methodist-Episcopal Church