Tag Archive 'landslide'

Sep 05 2020

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Landslide

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It’s just about the right time of year for an early afternoon mayfly hatch on the Cotton Brook, so I hiked a mile beyond the access road gate then bushwhacked to the mouth of the stream. When I crossed a heavily silted stream cutting through the woods, I knew something was terribly wrong. Upon reaching the mouth, all I found was a pile of dead trees that had been washed downstream and a carpet of silt and loose rock where the brook had been.

With this much silt and debris, I figured a landslide had to be nearby. I walked upstream expecting to see it just ahead. I walked twenty minutes before catching the first light filtering through the forest.

Upon reaching the landslide, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve seen plenty of landslides on mountain streams during the past 35 years, but nothing like this. Half the hillside was denuded and nearly every living thing on both sides of the brook had been swept away. So much for a mayfly hatch. So much for rainbow trout.

Once I was above the landslide and back into the cover of trees, the stream cleared out. I casted my fly into pools for an hour or so, getting a few rises from small brook trout, but my heart wasn’t into it. I couldn’t help but think about the frequency of landslides during the past decade or so, and wonder how big the next one would be.

I could rant on about how we need to act now before things get really bad, but everyone with any sense already knows this. Core samples from ice caps make it clear what’s happening. Anyone who denies climate change is delusional. To understand what exactly climate change means, one should look at the Geologic record. During the history of this planet, the climate has taken some severe turns. What we call the balance of nature is a tenuous thing, indeed. Survivability is questionable, and billionaires talking about colonizing Mars does not console me at all.

This morning I read online about the Cotton Brook landslide. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation website tells the whole story and warns about another slope failure there. Their message is clear: stay away. As a fisherman, I had already decided to go elsewhere. Again. This is becoming a common refrain. I imagine that my great, great grandchildren won’t be able to go trout fishing at all.

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