Monday, April 11, 2016

With Risk Comes Reward: "Canyoneering" & Tenkara in the NY Tri-State Area

There is a beautiful and spiritually important place where history runs deep - stories of Native Americans and Colonists intertwine with a natural place of such mysterious beauty that it is almost impossible to describe. 

Such a place does not lend itself to being treaded upon easily... but if you tread lightly enough and with a good-hearted intent, it may allow you to pass, and in doing so, experience something that could almost be frozen in time.

Of course, such places also hold untold treasures in the form of beautiful wild trout, so I packed the Oni type III and my Daiwa Soyokaze 27sr, ignored the weather report, and headed up into the ravine.

While this may seem like the end of the trail, with some risk and an enormous amount of effort, one can barter for entry into the deepest and likely the most remote ravine in the area.

This is no simple feat, as the gradient is as steep as can be, and the obstacles are many.

And as one overcomes each of these obstacles, thinking, or just hoping, that it could be that last, another pops up to deliver yet another challenge.

But after some well thought out moves and a bit of slide down some slippery leaves, entry into the ravine is granted, and a scene relatively untouched unfolds before me.

The last time I visited this place, the fish were as plentiful, and many were larger. However, with less water flowing and a very different winter behind us, I accepted that this was simply the flow of nature this year.

Each crystal-clear pool presents a challenge of its own... unexpectedly beautiful sunny weather brings the challenge of casting shadows, while endless deadfall and snags lead to awkward angles and impossibly short drifts.

Nonetheless, each challenge, when tackled with a moment of patience and thought is eventually unlocked...

...delivering rewards, one colorful jewel at a time.

And just when the pace has seemingly evened out, a new obstacle is presented beyond each passing mossy rock.

An ancient log along the slick rock once provided a stairway to the next pool... yet some force of nature had washed it down and this may have spelled the end of this adventure.

But as I scoured the walls of the ravine for another option, this raggedy year-old rope gave me the only risky option out of this predicament, so I took it.

Studded boots created solid footing and it was not necessary to use the rope to hold my weight... but it provided a perfect balance point as a handle at just the right moment, and I was soon up and over the wall, looking back down.

The risks were not over yet... one more slightly sketchy move along a collapsing hillside was necessary in order to save an almost unthinkable amount of scrambling up and then back down steep hillside to reach the other side... 

Using the appropriate holds I shimmied across, as a little bit more dirt cascaded down behind me. Yikes. This maneuver will probably not be possible next year if any more of this erodes. Ropes and harnesses may have been a smart move...

But soon I was forgetting all about this moment, and once again in awe of the scenery around me.

One after another, these beautiful cascades were within my grasp. While the rain made momentary appearances, it was nothing compared to the high chances of thundershowers first predicted.

And in each of these pools below the cascades, colorful wild brook trout were brought to hand.

My favorite pool, (and one that is particularly hard to access without doing the entire scramble up the canyon,) yielded the most colorful fish of the day from below the foamy depths.

Recently blown-down trees had been washed into a few prime pools, making them new refuges for the few trophies in this mountain stream.

And yet others were newly opened up for the anglers willing to put in the work to be in this place at the right time.

A new rope, likely for swinging into a deep channel and going for a summer swim provided a wonderful way to extend my reach into the channel.

Multiple beautiful fish were pulled from this pool... and quickly I fell into the trance of fishing to that one large, picky resident, seemingly asleep... failing to move even to investigate and reject my offerings.

Even without the big ones, just being in this place was a reward in and of itself.

I recognized many of the signs that I often see in deep ravines such as this... specific mushrooms, patterns of moss, dark-colored fish, and dead logs that created a certain magical feeling around me. My favorite streams run through places like this.

The signs of wildlife, surely aware of my presence, were abundant - as were the first signs of spring on the forest floor.

 Having reached the top of the ravine, and after fishing all the best holes along the way, the rain began to fall hard; as if to signify that I was at risk of overstaying my welcome in this surely sacred place.

I made my exit up a steep hill, finding a bushwack-trail along the edge of some private property. A quick view back up the hill of the upper ravine confirmed the epic undertaking, defining my journey in having traversed these cascades.

And as if in solidarity with the theme of the day, a useful reminder awaited those who stopped to read it on the way out.

I was surely very aware of the reality of the world around me on this day. Choosing to inhabit one reality within the world I live in as opposed to another had brought me to this fairytale location and delivered the rewards I had sought. 

"Become aware to the reality of the world you live in... so choose to spend your time and energy doing the things you love, not the things you don't."


  1. This is a great post, and that is a very special place!

    1. Thanks RM, it is a very special place Indeed.

  2. Well done on all counts; writing, photography, exploring.

    1. Thank you Mike, it was a lot of fun to be there and to recount it in writing.

  3. Amazing. Thanks for sharing. I will likely never know where this is and I'm fine with that; I'm just happy to know it exists. By the way, I love the photo of the raccoon prints.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, I liked seeing those prints, too. I never share locations online, however, I have been known to take people to such places here and there when fishing together :)

  4. Great looking specimens. No Suntech HMR30 on this trip?

    1. Excellent point there... these days I'm finding it harder and harder to choose that over my Oni type III, not sure why. I should have brought it with me. And there becomes exposed the issue of owning too many rods, I think? ;)