Tag Archives: River

EPA Responsible for Colorado Mine Spill

The Environmental Protection Agency has admitted fault and apologized for accidentally spilling more than three million gallons of contaminated water from an abandoned mine shaft into Colorado’s Animas River on August 5th. This mine spill has leaked arsenic, cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, and many other contaminants from the former Gold King Mine shaft into the river that flows south into New Mexico.

A yellow river with three kayakers in it.

The chemicals and heavy metals from the Gold King Mine spill initially turned the water a deep yellow. [Image: http://www.seattlepi.com/]

Last week’s spill came when an EPA team was investigating a 200-gallon per minute leak at the Gold King Mine and working to install a pipe to drain rising water and ultimately slow the leak. Unfortunately a loose dirt barrier led to over three million gallons of toxic water exploding into the river. The EPA workers did not expect the water to be so high, meaning that the pipe wouldn’t have worked anyway.

As the toxic plume continues to flow at a rate of five miles per hour, Colorado, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation have all declared states of emergency. The Animas River and San Juan River, one of the Animas’ tributaries, have been officially closed for drinking, fishing, rafting, irrigation, and any other access until further notice. As the plume is moving toward Utah, it changed from a deep yellow hue to a lighter green as the chemicals clear up.

An overhead shot of a greenish river.

As the chemical plume moves into Utah, it’s changed colors to a lighter green. [Image: Courtesy of Angie Wingerd/Ignited Imagery from http://denver.cbslocal.com/]

Colorado is home to more than 20,000 abandoned mines that have riddled the landscape into an unpredictable shell and are consistently leaking toxic waste into nearby rivers and tributaries. Approximately 9,000 of the mines have been cleaned up, however, there are about 14,000 that still need to be addressed.

For many, this disaster calls to mind the 1978 Emma Lake Incident where the effects of decades of rock mining in the high San Juan Mountains were experienced. On a day where no workers were present, the lake broke through a tunnel of the Sunnyside Gold Mine, located about 70-feet underneath the lake. The entirety of the lake and its sediments shot through the tunnel and along Cement Creek, knocking over a 20-ton locomotive in the process.

Ducks wading in a yellow river.

Ducks in New Mexico wading through the yellowish water affected by the Gold King Mine spill. [Image: http://www.usnews.com/]

Retention ponds were being installed over the weekend in order to trap and test the contaminated water. In the meantime, nearby households that rely on wells and many smaller communities that relied on these rivers are all at risk of contamination. At this time, it has not yet been determined if the water poses a threat to humans, wildlife, and plant life.

Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park

Contributed by Katie Levy of Adventure-Inspired

Buzzards Rock Trail through the woods [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Buzzards Rock Trail [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Aside from napping (as long as I’m not driving, of course), one of my favorite ways to pass the time on long drives is to put on a good podcast. It seemed as though everyone in the world was talking about Serial, a spin-off of This American Life around the turn of the year, and on a long drive from Philadelphia to Vermont, I got through almost all 12 episodes.

One of the most mentioned locations in the podcast is a small recreation destination 20 minutes west of Baltimore, Maryland – Patapsco Valley State Park. To me, the park became infamous thanks to Serial, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit. There’s a lot more to Patapsco Valley than Serial’s listeners might realize.

About the Park and Getting There

The Swinging Bridge over Patapsco River at Patapsco Valley State Park [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

The Swinging Bridge [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Patapsco Valley State Park is Maryland’s oldest state park. Historic sites like Elkridge Landing, Bloede Dam, and Daniels Dam are among the numerous historic sites visitors can learn more about. The park covers over 16,000 acres along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, and the park headquarters are easily accessible via US-40 West at the Hollofield Area. Other park areas include Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove, Hilton, Pickall, Daniels, and McKeldin.

In the southern part of Patapsco Valley State Park, the Avalon, Orange Grove, and Glen Artney areas offer visitors the chance to see the remains of old mill towns, picnic, hike, and camp. Orange Cove is home to a swinging bridge and the popular Grist Mill Trail. To the north, the Hilton area offers more picnic shelters and hiking trails, as well as a nature center, playground, and camping. It’s popular among the locals, given its close proximity to the town of Cantonsville, and among mountain bikers. The Pickall area, open seasonally, is home to large picnic shelters, playgrounds, basketball courts, and access to the Patapsco River for swimming.

Grist Mill Trail follows the Patapsco River at Patapsco Valley State Park [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Grist Mill Trail [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

In the center of the park, the Hollofield area offers beautiful overlooks, camping opportunities, picnic shelters, and is home to Patapsco Valley State Park’s headquarters. The Daniels area is, according to the Maryland DCNR, the least developed area of Patapsco Valley and offers paddling and angling opportunities visitors won’t find elsewhere in the park. If you’re into disc golf, the McKeldin area in the northern part of the park is a great place to stop. The area also has camping, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, and picnicking opportunities.

As a note, if you’re planning on visiting the Hilton or Pickall areas, be aware there’s a service fee. You’ll also want to make campground reservations in advance, which is a cinch with the DCNR’s online reservation system.

The Grist Mill Trail, Bloede’s Dam, Buzzards Rock and More

Grist Mill Trail passes by the Patapsco River in late winter at Patapsco Valley State Park [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Grist Mill Trail [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

We spent the majority of our visit to Patapsco Valley State Park between the Glen Artney area on the northeastern and the Hilton area. After parking in a gravel parking lot, (39.251820, -76.764220), we walked down Ilchester Road to the northwestern end of the Grist Mill Trail and followed the trail along the Patapsco River to the Patapsco Reservoir and the Bloede Dam.

Sawmill Trail passes through winter woods at Patapsco Valley State Park [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Sawmill Trail [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

After spending some time exploring around the dam, we continued down the Grist Mill Trail, crossed the river on a suspension bridge for a bathroom stop where the Cascade Trail meets River Road, then crossed back over and backtracked along the Grist Mill Trail. After making our way back up a good majority of the way back to the car, we turned right on the yellow-blazed Buzzards Rock trail, following it up to an overlook. We followed the Saw Mill Trail back down to the Grist Mill trail and back to the cars. It was an easy, fun, and beautiful two hour excursion in the park.

Overall, if you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend a visit to Patapsco Valley State Park. If you’ve been, what are your favorite parts of the park to explore? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Catch Monster Trout

Larger trout behave differently than smaller trout because they require more energy. For example, large trout aren’t going to target small flies as often as small trout do. This is because the energy return from feeding on small flies is less for large fish than it is for small fish. Therefore, catching monster trout is going to require a few tactical adjustments. Here are some tips to help get you started:

Fish Big Trout Waters

Yellowstone river [image: www.nps.gov]

Yellowstone river [image: www.nps.gov]

That secret stretch of mountain stream is great, but it’s probably not going to produce many fish over 20 inches. There is simply not enough food. Focus your attention on larger rivers and lakes where adequate food supplies grow big trout.


Big streamer, big trout [image: www.current-works.com]

Big streamer, big trout [image: www.current-works.com]

All trout eat small aquatic insects, but only smaller trout eat them exclusively. Salmon flies, large stonefly nymphs, imitation crayfish, large streamers, imitation crayfish, and baitfish are all excellent options for targeting big fish. Power hitters often strike out, but they also hit homeruns.

Timing and Weather

Night fishing [Image: www.simmsfishing.com]

Night fishing [Image: www.simmsfishing.com]

The guy who catches a monster trout at noon with a nightcrawler is the exception not the rule. Whereas smaller fish feed throughout the day, larger trout are more selective and prefer the low light conditions of early morning or late evening-sometimes even the dead of night. On bright sunny days the monsters, especially the browns, tend to go into hiding. Target those days on the water when a front rolls in or days when a summer shower whips these fish into a feeding frenzy.

Spawning Season

Spawning trout [image: goeddelphotography.com]

Spawning trout [image: goeddelphotography.com]

According to Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (1653), the brown trout is “a fish that is so like a buck, that he also has his seasons.” Indeed, browns become more aggressive during the fall months when they move out of lakes and up rivers to spawn. More big browns are caught in the early fall than at any other time.

Suggested Gear List: 

  • Streamer Flies
  • Wading Gear
  • Sunscreen

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and more!