I should stop here and explain a little bit about what it’s really like trying to wade down the rocky-bottomed cold rushing brooks and streams in this neck of the woods. I know quite a bit about navigating through such terrain from the many years I’ve spent fishing for native Maine brook trout. Most fishermen take to the center of a stream or river with a pair of heavy-duty rubber boots and chest waders and a fly rod. These usually angle for Browns Rainbows or spawning Salmon. I’m not like most fisherman. I’m not so overly serious about the frills or my success. For me it’s more about the adventure and being deep in it away from everything and everybody else. I fish small brooks and streams with a medium spin cast reel and a worm on a hook. It usually being summer my attire is a t-shirt, shorts, and a good quality pair of Velcro strapped sandals, which typically provide fairly good traction on the rocky stream-bed. In this way I wade slowly down stream casting and dragging my worm across deep pools and shady spots where the trout attack it. The thing to be cautious of the most in navigating such course is to go slowly, find footing and shift your weight to step only when the footing is firm enough to do so. This is mostly done by feeling your way, because the stream-bed (though it might lie under fairly shallow water) is often difficult to see. One can see the deep pools that would put you waist deep and so avoids them. The rest is hidden in the combination of tree shadow, interposed with slashings of sunlight blazing off rippling and rushing waters. In some spots making out the bottom is nearly impossible. It’s also best to keep to areas of the stream where large rocks protrude so that you can use one as a hold or as a break should you begin to lose balance. It’s happened many times that I almost went over but there’s always a rock nearby I can throw my weight towards to avoid going all in the water. If you don’t keep your eyes open, if you don’t go slowly, if you are tired, weak, have had a beer or two and unbalanced, whatever… you are asking for trouble. The rocks and boulders that line these brook and stream-beds are of varying sizes. Ones as small as baseballs that will roll your ankle, all the way up to big middle-of-the-stream boulders the size of Volkswagons. Some are sharp, some are smooth, some are slimy and slippery with algae or mud where the water is slow; some are protruding at sharp odd angles that stretch deep into the stream-bed, a secret dark cold and dangerous vise of angled granite to lose your leg in as a large trout that sat there darts away. If it’s rained recently and the woods and rocks are wet too this just makes things that much worse. I often come back from these excursions a little banged scrapped and bruised. Luckily that’s all it’s been.
Back on the Temple I winced in pain as I tried to twist my ankle slowly from the chasm it had wedged itself in. I pulled it out hissed and began dragging the kayak toward the pool and the bend. I was moving pretty quick from the pain and my kayak was banging and bouncing along up and over boulders loudly behind me. I didn’t care. At the pool I sat her down and plopped my ass in. I leaned back and let her drift breathing a few sighs. As I wound into the cutbank where the water was real deep I floated directly over a school of 15 to 20 good sized brook trout. Though I’d brought a pole and some worms with me I left them where they lie. I’d been down on the stream for a good 45 minutes by now and had barely managed 100 yards. I decided it was best to leave these trout and make up for lost time. There could be more fishing later. After surveying the pool I nosed the kayak towards a drop of fast water through two large boulders hoping this would be a short flue to more navigable waters.
My ankles both bad and compromised from former sprains were numb from the cold water that they were almost exclusively in now…
It wasn’t. Out of the kayak again I was. Again I dragged a scraping banging bouncing and now heavy kayak down this slippery sharp rock bed. This isn’t the same as navigating with just a rod in one hand. The kayak was a whole other obstacle to consider and overcome in my delicate balancing act. For the next several hundred yards this is how it went. I was in and out of the kayak multiple times. My feet were being banged and scrapped but I was still on both of them. My ankles both bad and compromised from former sprains were numb from the cold water that they were almost exclusively in now. At a few points coming down a small drop in the stream and over a large boulder my kayak spun over behind me and it’s contents spilled out. I’d gather them up and trudge slowly forward. There HAS to be deep water somewhere ahead! I slipped and banged my knee. That was it. I’d had it. I was bitching and fussing up a storm. It was time to get the fuck out of here, but I had to calm down. The problem was that I wasn’t quite sure how far down I was. I didn’t know how far to the road I was, and the embankments were still too steep and me too tired to drag a kayak up over them. I ate my energy bar and considered my options. There weren’t many and after the energy bar hit me I found I was still feeling too bullheaded to give this up. I was soaked through in my shorts and though it was in the upper 50’s I felt completely warm in just my T-shirt. I was still good to go I thought. I took a long swallow of water dragged around another bend and finally, mercifully, the embankments receded and I found some decent water!