Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Power of Nature

Near the headwaters of the West Branch of the Ausable River, Adirondacks New York

When I thought about writing this post I thought it was going to be filled with pictures of Adirondack foliage at peak color and tales of a wilderness experience that included cooking freshly caught brook trout over an open campfire.  It's funny how nature had a different experience in mind for me.  For years I have made an annual pilgrimage to the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York to enjoy the great north woods.  The last few years the trips have been spotty for one reason or another including the birth of my children but this year I got the green light to go for a weekend.  Keep in mind to drive to the high peaks area from Long Island is about  6 1/2 hours.

Marcy Brook downstream of Marcy Dam

So with the jeep packed with gear I headed out at 4am this past Saturday.  I had been keeping an eye on the weather for the last few days leading up to the trip and there was a 40% chance of rain for the weekend...not too bad.  To make a long story short, the rain varied between drizzle and downpour the ENTIRE time!  I'm pretty sure that would have been a 100% chance.  That was Nature's first little surprise for me.  Maybe I should have thought something was up on the drive up the NYS
Thruway.  The Thruway crosses many little rivers and streams along the way and all of them (The Roundout, the Wallkill, Catskill Creek, The Esopus, The Mohawk River, and Hudson) were very high and the color of coffee with heavy amounts of cream in them.  Upon arrival, my first plan was to hike  several miles to Marcy Dam to fish the brook and pond for some brook trout.  After a while sloshing through the mud I arrived to find NO POND!  Mother Nature's second surprise for me was the result of Hurricane Irene.  The tremendous rain from the storm blew out the dam and drained the pond (along with my brookies).
Marcy Dam with the top portion and the walkway gone.

The pond was reduced to a trickle draining through the middle. I had brought my Tenkara Iwana rod with me and fished in the brook below the dam without a single nibble.  The picture above probably explains why.  I was told by a fellow hiker that there were around 27 new slides on the surrounding mountains.  I wouldn't know...another of Nature's surprises was heavy fog which prevented me from seeing any scenery beyond a a couple of hundred yards.

Twisted walkway with debris piled against it along the trail.
The hike, while cold and wet, was nice and I did see a mink while fishing, which was pretty cool.  The first day was a bust and I was hoping day two would be more productive.  I figured if it wasn't then I would start the long drive home on the early side.  I have always wanted to fish the West Branch of the Ausable River and that was day 2's plan.

West Branch Ausable River just downstream of the bridge crossing the Adirondack Loj Road.
In the morning, with continuing rain, I put on my waders grabbed my Iwana and headed down the banks and into the river.  I chose to fish the upper portions of the river near it's beginning because I am always more interested in brookies and a smaller stream experience.  The water was high and very stained.  I ran through every fly available to me and not a single bite could be felt nor rise be seen.  With the conditions I guess I should not have been surprised. So after only 2 hours I threw my hands up in the air and audibly said "I give up!"

 I love coming to these mountains and taking in everything about them.  The only thing I could take home from this trip is that no matter how big or important people may feel they are they are always going to be at the mercy of the power of Nature.  When Hurricane Irene came through Long Island it left us without power for a week and a massive mess of downed trees and power lines.  I never thought for a minute I would still feel it's effects months later on the other side of NY State.  Lesson learned.  That's the power of Nature for you!

Roaring Brook Falls from Rt 73


  1. Despite the tricks Mother Nature decided to pull on you, it must have been nice to breathe in some fresh mountain air!! Nice photos!

  2. Thanks Ashley...Even with the rain, it's always nice to get away to the mountains! I'd do it all over again, although next time I'd like to catch a few fish.

  3. Irene changed a lot of the landscape in the Adirondacks, it's like you are fishing completely different stream ! Too bad the fish weren't more cooperative.

  4. Mark...I have been visiting the Adirondacks for a number of years and I'm still blown away by some of the things I saw that have changed. I'm sure the next time I get to go up there the fishing conditions will be a little better.

  5. Nature is a force not to played with.
    It's amazing to see such destruction.

    Sorry your trip did not go as planned, but you did see wilderness in a different way....and you enjoyed that.

  6. Brk Trt...I did appreciate it, just not for the reasons I expected but I guess that's what makes life interesting, right?

  7. Very interesting to see your personal perspective on the work of Irene. Too bad your trip didn't turn out as planned. Mother Nature sure puts a lot of effort into ruining fishing trips.

  8. Jay...she definitely does sometimes but there are other times when she rewards us and that is what keeps us fishing I suppose.

  9. Nothing worse than heading out to fish a pond with Brookies in it and it's gone :O What a bummer. The area looks beautiful though and hopefully on your next trip the streams are running clear. Great Photos. Tight Lines.

  10. Trout Magee...Thanks. The Adirondacks are one of my favorite places to visit, I wished I lived there or at least could spend far more time there. If you're ever in Upstate NY you really should go. Your camera would never stop clicking!