There has been 10 years passed since I started going into the Cranberry Backcountry. The Cranberry Backcountry has a Wilderness designation, and is foot travel, bicycle or horesback only for 16 miles. It all started with a group of co-workers when I was first out of college. A few of them and a few friends decided to make the trek into the wilderness. I am hooked!! The initial trips have been in the latter parts of March, because of the lower crowds in the colder temperatures. That is the reason that I acquired the tipi with the wood stove last year. I have 2 trailers that I built to pull behind bicycles. The group that I go in with now has a few fly fishermen, so we switched to later in the year to get better action for them. In the years past, there have been several fish caught during our trips. The friends that used to accompany me have grown apart, and some now take their time off to pursue mid-western whitetail instead. Do I hold this against them, absolutely not! A different stroke for different folks is the way I feel. There is something about the sheer solitude of knowing where you are in the backcountry is a place that generations before us have enjoyed.
Another thing that amazes me about this place is the amount of older folks that still pedal their way into the backcountry. This year, I met a gentleman that has been coming in since the early 40’s!! That’s right, the 40’s! He is 85 years old, and rode 6 miles down a fork, which is where he camped with his family. He remembers the old Conservation Corps camps being in there. Their trip was to continue to the lower gate, another 7 miles, to another vehicle. We did have a partial scare this year, as another family was supposed to meet their 72 year old father at the base of a hiking around noon. The family stopped to ask us if we had seen this man, and we had not. Not knowing what kind of shape he was in, we thought to ourselves, who would let a 72 year old hike this trail alone? We offered any help that was needed to assist them. The majority of the group was off duty police officers, and had assisted in search and rescues before. Needless to say, we were not needed as the man had taken a wrong turn on the trail heading towards the bottom, and after a 4 ˝ hour mishap, made it back to his car at around 7pm.
The past 2 years, we have hired an outfitter to take our stuff and us in. This is a Godsend! He has a team of mules that pull a tandem axle trailer into the area. We can now eat more than Ramen and instant oats. We take our iron to cook on and anything from steaks to pork chops for dinners. This year, we bought $300 worth of food and supplies for meals. The term lightweight is not even in the mule’s vocabulary. He put 32 miles on the same team last Thursday! I highly recommend this outfitter to any group wanting to go in, and not have to worry about what is taken. This does not mean that you can take the kitchen sink, but I feel even a woman could go in and be comfortable. No pun intended for the sink reference.
The state had not missed any stocking this year due to the unseasonably warm temperatures we have had. I did not see any trophy sized trout in there, but they had put some decent ones in the put and take water. I landed several over 14”, as did most all of the group. I am still a spin fisherman at heart, but I did venture out with my fly rod this year. I took an afternoon and hiked into a native stream with 3 others. I was more than pleased with this decision! I landed 10 in all, from brookies to browns, all on dries. There are a few pics of the brookies, but the prettiest of the browns did not cooperate for a pose.
I will have following, pics of fish, scenery, camp, and the trip in general. I did not use photoshop on the pictures, but I did enhance the brightness/contrast in MS Office Picture Manager. A few of the pics were taken by other members of the group. I will entertain any questions to the best of my ability about the area or the outfitter via PM. If there are any pics that offend anyone, I am sorry. I had the well-being of the fish in mind, so please if anything offends you, please send a PM, and do not make this a post of arguing what is right versus what is wrong! Please ENJOY!! (I did!)