Friday, November 10, 2023
HomeHikingBackpacking and Fishing within the Wild River Wilderness

Backpacking and Fishing within the Wild River Wilderness

The Wild River Wilderness is the wildest designated wilderness space within the White Mountain Nationwide Forest spanning New Hampshire and Maine. I hadn’t been up that manner for just a few years so I deliberate a backpacking route that adopted the river from the Wild River Campground to its supply at No Ketchum Pond on the foot of Carter Dome Mountain with the intention of Tenkara fishing alongside the river’s upstream boulder gardens and cascade

As I pulled into the hiker car parking zone subsequent to the campground, I remembered the primary backpacking journey I ever took within the White Mountains some 15 years in the past. We’d dropped automobiles at this lot after which shuttled to the Rattle River Path outdoors Gorham, which is on the AT. From there we’d traversed the Mt Moriah and Carter Vary, descending the Black Angel Path earlier than crossing the Wild River over the bridge on the Moriah Brook path junction. That bridge has since been worn out by the large floods that accompanied Hurricane Irene (in 2011, I consider) and the one manner throughout the higher a part of the river now could be to ford it.

Hurricane Irene ravaged the Wild River
Hurricane Irene ravaged the Wild River

The proof of Irene’s passage remains to be evident alongside the Wild River watershed with huge erosion injury alongside the banks and lots of the trails. Whereas I’ve hiked extensively within the area for a few years, I’m nonetheless in awe of the injury brought on by that storm. Big boulders the dimensions of homes litter the stream mattress whereas large piles of lifeless timber, swept apart by the maelstrom, rot alongside the river sides. When you can observe all this from trails that run excessive above the river, it’s an much more spectacular sight standing down alongside the riverbank with a fishing rod in hand.

Whereas my purpose on this journey was to fish the Wild River, I needed to hike upstream first to Perkins Notch, some 8 miles south to its supply, which might give me the chance to do some fishing alongside the way in which and scope out a number of the wilder sections. This included two facet streams, Spruce Brook and Pink Brook, which drain the Carter Mountain Vary and feed into the Wild. I didn’t have any agency plans about the place I might camp though I deliberate to offer the designated tent web site at Perkins Notch a looksie to see if was any extra interesting than the final time I’d camped there with Guthook and my good friend Steve a few years in the past. Again then the water supply had been fairly sketchy and the positioning closely used, however it’s so distant, that there was an opportunity that it had recovered or been upgraded.

A vegetation choked section of the Wild River Trail.
A vegetation-choked part of the Wild River Path.

Being in a wilderness space, the Wild River Path will get considerably much less upkeep than the extra closely used White Mountain trails to the south and west. Whereas the path junctions are signed, there are not any blazes, and a number of the much less frequented sections are closely overgrown. I’d wearing anticipation of this with lengthy pants and a protracted sleeve mountain climbing shirt as a result of I knew I’d need additional safety in opposition to the shrubbery and bugs, in addition to solar safety whereas fishing the river.

I handed by the campground and headed upstream following the Wild River Path up an outdated logging highway to the Black Angel Path junction and river crossing, stopping often to fish some cascades and runs within the river that had been straightforward to get right down to. I caught some smaller brookies and acquired loads of hits, however nothing just like the motion I’d had throughout the earlier two weeks within the Pemigewasset Wilderness or the Dry River Wilderness Areas.

The Wild River was operating actually low, due to this yr’s drought, though that appears to have grow to be an annual prevalence throughout the previous few years. I like to inform my mates that Tenkrara fly fishing is drought-proof, which it’s to a sure extent as a result of it’s splendid for fishing pocket water and boulder gardens which might be troublesome to fish for those who had a reel and a floating line to take care of.

The Black Angel ford was a rock hop.
The Black Angel ford was a rock hop.

I crossed the Wild River on the Black Angel Ford by rock hopping, which was sudden as a result of it’s usually a knee to mid-thigh ford. The world across the ford was a well-liked campsite, and whereas there are just a few flat spots nonetheless for tents, it seems to be just like the forest service has been felling timber to make it tougher to seek out an open house to camp. There’s a superbly good campsite, the Spruce Brook Campsite, a brief distance upstream with a wonderful swimming gap out entrance which is a greater place to camp anyway.

Old sign at the East Branch Trail junction
Previous signal on the East Department Path junction

I continued heading south crossing Pink Brook and after that the Eagle Hyperlink Path Junction which runs as much as the Baldfaces in Evans Notch. From right here till the East Department Path junction, the Wild River Path is fairly overgrown. with sections bordered by shoulder-height bushes which have overgrown the path, so you’ll be able to’t see your ft while you move by way of them. It’s the identical story with the lavatory bridges additional alongside, that are lined by lengthy grass: you actually don’t need to fall off them into the swamp beneath. A part of me enjoys these sections despite the fact that they verge on bushwhacks. They’re a delicate reminder of the relentless energy of nature over man’s works!

I crossed the Wild River once more on the East Department Junction, the place the river is about 15′ huge and barely qualifies as a stream. The water at this finish was stained crimson, from the tannins within the soil and vegetation.

The Wild River at the East Branch Trail stream crossing
The Wild River on the East Department Path stream crossing

The Perkins Notch Tent web site was 0.6 miles farther alongside and it has modified since I used to be final there, however not likely for the higher. There are two new earthen tent pads and not less than a dozen pre-existing websites scattered round them. There’s additionally an “consuming space” which seems to be prefer it’s been the positioning of bonfires, with downed timber scattered round it prepared for burning. I went to scope out the water supply I remembered south of the tent web site, but it surely was ow a puddle.

I checked my Far Out Information app for the Whites which lists water sources and the map confirmed a seasonal spring 0.3 miles farther alongside the path. There was a trickle of water out there there, however you’d want a sponge to get it. So I backtracked to an unsigned herd path I’d seen 0.6 miles again (down the path) that was heading to the “pond”, which is an enormous swampy space with open water within the center. No Ketchum Pond, as it’s named, normally covers far more space when it has water in it.

That herd path was fairly muddy and clearly human-made as a result of folks had lain sticks over the muddy space, a typical factor in New England, to maintain you from sinking into the mud. I hadn’t been certain after I began down it and didn’t need to meet a moose coming down to fulfill me! The trail led by way of swampy vegetation and grass, ending at a patch of strong floor, which was simply sun-dried mud.

No Ketchum Pond
No Ketchum Pond

I acquired water out of the pond by wading into it and sinking into the muddy backside, scooping undisturbed water (with out suspended solids), with my cook dinner pot, and pouring it right into a 2L comfortable reservoir I carry. I filtered a liter of the crimson tannic water and stowed it as backup for the 1/2 liter I had in one other bottle. I suppose that is the closest dependable water supply to the tent web site now. There’s one other higher one 0.3 of a mile down the path (0.6 from the tent web site) that could be a small stream, which is the outflow of No Ketchem Pond. The Far Out app has this stream, however not the herd path to the “pond”.

I made a decision to skip tenting on the Perkin Notch Tent web site, which was too beat to hell for my style, and headed again to a pre-existing tent web site I’d handed about 1 mile north. It wasn’t precisely flat, however nothing a 4″ inflatable air mattress couldn’t paper over. I pitched my tent, made dinner, and skim for some time till I fell asleep to the sound of the river trickling just a few ft from my tent.

I really enjoy using the X-Mid 1 Tent.
I actually take pleasure in utilizing the X-Mid 1 Tent.

I slept a bit late the subsequent morning, however nonetheless managed to interrupt camp by 8:00. Till now, my purpose had been to establish that time the place the river was sufficiently big and had sufficient overhead clearance to fish, with out my line and rod getting caught within the timber. That turned to be near Pink Brook, which I fished some time earlier than following it right down to the Wild River. The confluence of the rivers was a pleasant cascade that held some good brookies. The water there was a deep crimson.

This level on the Wild River was lastly the proper measurement for some correct stream fishing. It was operating low however there have been nonetheless loads of pour overs, cascades, and runs to fish. I used to be fishing an elk hair caddis fly that I’d tied myself which seems to be lots like a white moth when it floats on the floor of the water. The river depth was by no means greater than three ft with many rocks uncovered, making it straightforward to maneuver from pocket to pocket in the hunt for trout. Extra water would have been good, however I used to be nonetheless enthralled by the great thing about the scene.

I was enthralled by the beauty of the scene.
I used to be enthralled by the great thing about the scene.

I feel that is the primary journey into the Wild River Wilderness the place I spent as a lot time off-trail as on-trail. That’s the character of small stream fishing. There’s loads of bushwhacking alongside the banks of rivers, sloshing within the water, and hopping from rock to rock to get to the perfect trout habitat. Making your personal “path” could be very completely different than following one other that somebody has laid out earlier than you.

I’m no stranger to bushwhacking. However like trails, most of our bushwhacks are goal-oriented with the only real objective of climbing a peak to examine an inventory. Whereas fishing catch and launch on these small streams is a sport like peakbagging, you’ve gotten a lot much less energy to affect the end result by sheer pressure of will. If the fish aren’t plentiful, it helps to calm down and soak in the great thing about the place as an alternative.

More enticing trout habitat
Extra attractive trout habitat

I labored my manner down the Wild River till near Spruce Brook with out a lot as a success, earlier than as soon as once more catching brookies as I labored my manner up Spruce Brook. I feel the Wild River, along with low stream, was simply too heat for the fish to be very energetic. That might clarify why the facet streams held extra trout – they had been in all probability simply colder.

Undeterred, I continued working my manner down the Wild River to the Black Angel ford and crossed the river once more, hoping to catch another fish on the river earlier than the day ended. However that didn’t occur. So I soaked within the surroundings and was content material with that. I’ll simply have to return again within the autumn when it’s colder and there’s extra water.

You don’t need to catch fish to enjoy fishing.
You don’t have to catch fish on a regular basis to take pleasure in fishing.

I’ve discovered that I take pleasure in breaking rivers or streams down into smaller components that I can discover in depth. There’s far more to the Wild River and its feeder streams that I didn’t get to expertise on this journey, however this was a satisfying foray and only the start of a deeper relationship with this mighty and wild river.

Keep it wild
Maintain it wild

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