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Rewinding, Relaxing, Rattlers, and Raindrops

Started by Yallerhammer, May 27, 2018, 12:46:48 PM

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Yallerhammer

May 27, 2018, 12:46:48 PM Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 13:05:20 PM by Yallerhammer
I've been in a very busy time at work, and dealing with serious health issues with my elderly mom lately. I really, badly needed a bit of back-in-the-mountains-alone time in the worst way. So, I headed back into the Smokies yesterday morning to see if I could find just that.

The bigger streams here are still high and mostly unwade-able and nearly unfishable from the torrential rains over the last week, so I decided to hike back into a tiny little creek that I haven't fished since I was a teenager. I didn't really care if the fish were there or not, as long as I was there.

Breakfast of champions:

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Off the pavement and onto the gravel. Found this 6' black rat snake crossing the road:

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A couple miles further along, and I spied this mama grouse out for a walk with her chicks:

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A trail. Let's see what's up it:

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This cliff is somewhere around a hundred  feet high:

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Found some ancient Mayan ruins:

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Actually, it's a giant chimney about 40 feet tall, made from dry-stacked rock. Several people could sleep in the fireplace. It's all that remains of a big lodge that operated here back at the turn of the last century.

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I was walking on up the trail, looking up and admiring the giant old trees, when I looked back down and saw that I was about to put my foot down onto this:

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It was an old, beautiful yellow-phase mountain timber rattler with thirteen rattles and a button. He was about five feet long, and about as big around as my wrist in the middle. He was very calm and docile, like most timber rattlers. He stayed stretched out across the trail until I finally shooed him off so I could walk by. He protested a little bit, coiled up and shook his rattle a few times, then crawled off into the rhododendrons.

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I walked until I could hear water, and then cut off straight down the mountainside down into the hollow. There at the bottom was this little creek:

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It's tiny, and mostly tunneled with rhododendrons, crossed with deadfall trees, and has a high gradient. The creek mostly consists of little plunge pools separated by waterfalls anywhere from a foot to thirty feet in height.

Let's see if anyone's home.

First cast into the first pool:

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I fished on up the creek, and almost every pool yielded one or two pretty little rainbows:

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The little trout were plentiful and hitting my fly greedily. There for a couple or three hours, I found exactly what I came for-everything ceased to exist except for me, the stream, the woods, the trout; and the moist, green, living, breathing landscape around me. No people, no cellphone reception, just the woods and the flowing water.

I worked the little creek for about a mile, until it became even smaller and rougher. Eventually, I was spending twenty minutes wriggling through tangles of rhododendron, dog hobble and stinging nettles and climbing over cliffs and deadfalls twenty minutes for every five minutes of fishing. I decided to grade back up the mountainside to the trail.

As I walked through the woods, I noticed this in my path:

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A pretty black-phase mountain timber rattler. This one did not want to be my friend at all. As soon as I bent down and pointed the camera at it, it immediately flew into a coil, and sung loudly and continuously at me for ten minutes, bluff-striking every time I leaned in to take a pic. This one was probably the most aggressive, ill-natured timber rattler I've ever encountered in decades of stomping through the woods. I have no doubt he would have bitten me if I had given him the chance. The black ones are usually more short-tempered than the yellow ones, but this one must have been having an especially bad day.

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I hiked back out to the trail, and back down to the truck. I stopped at another little creek on the way home that I hadn't fished in several years.

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The sky was getting dark, and thunder was rumbling; but before the afternoon thunder-washer hit, I managed to catch a pair of fat, heavy recovering stogger browns, one 12", the other 13".

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These had both begun life in a cement pond and taken a ride on a hatchery truck to get to the water; but they both had sense enough to make a long journey of escape upstream from the murky lower reaches of this stream to a better life in cleaner, faster, wilder waters. They fought hard and put a good bend in the little 3-weight, especially with the current from the high water. I finally netted the 13-incher three plunge pools down from the one I hooked him in.

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By the time I got him unhooked, big raindrops were splatting down, the breeze was turning the leaves over showing their silvery undersides, and thunder was rumbling ominously. So, regretfully, I headed back out to the pavement and home, my eyes still watching the mountains through the windshield wipers and maze of raindrops running down the side windows. I was physically exhausted, but I felt like a completely different man than the tensed-up guy who had first climbed in the truck early in the morning.

People in the city hire therapists and psychiatrists and spend money on spas and resorts. I suspect all they really need is just a little back-in-the-mountains-alone time. It works wonders. The only drawback is that the mountains put a spell on you and keep drawing you back into them. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, my eyes are usually still fixed on the mountains.

Fin.
Women want me, doughbellies fear me.<br /><br />Little Debbie Prostaff

Beetle

 'c; 'c; 'c;

Great report.  I've seen more snakes this year than I can remember but none hold a candle to those two!    Curious if you were wearing boots or waders with all those snakes around. 


Yallerhammer

Quote from: Beetle on May 27, 2018, 13:24:33 PM

'c; 'c; 'c;

Great report.  I've seen more snakes this year than I can remember but none hold a candle to those two!    Curious if you were wearing boots or waders with all those snakes around.

Shorts and wading boots. The snakes don't bother me near as much as stinging nettles and yallerjackets. You can just step away from a snake. :)
Women want me, doughbellies fear me.<br /><br />Little Debbie Prostaff

Phil

Sweet trout report, Yaller. I can't wait to get down there in a couple of weeks. Nice scenery, too!

" The snakes don't bother me near as much as stinging nettles and yallerjackets." Yep, me too. That's why I wear long pants wet wading.


itieuglyflies

Great report.......the snakes just help keep these special places wild and your senses on high alert.


Yallerhammer

Quote from: itieuglyflies on May 27, 2018, 15:26:29 PM

Great report.......the snakes just help keep these special places wild and your senses on high alert.

Yep.

Women want me, doughbellies fear me.<br /><br />Little Debbie Prostaff

NCsporksman

Hell of a walk.

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Onslow

You're not very yellow for going out in the deep mountain woods with the unstable weather....and holy crap rattlers.  I have yet to encounter a live rattler in the wild.


driver

I have spent countless hours in the woods. And uave never seen a rattler in  the wild. Not fair! Maybe one day


Yallerhammer

Quote from: Onslow on May 27, 2018, 19:16:23 PM

You're not very yellow for going out in the deep mountain woods with the unstable weather....and holy crap rattlers.  I have yet to encounter a live rattler in the wild.

I've probably seen a hundred or more over the years.

Women want me, doughbellies fear me.<br /><br />Little Debbie Prostaff

Dougfish

Very nice, Hammer.
Snakes instead of flowers. Cool.
Damn nice feesh, too.

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"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? " -Oddball, 1970

"I don't wanna go to hell,
But if I do,
It'll be 'cause of you..."
Strange Desire, The Black Keys, 2006

Yallerhammer

Quote from: Onslow on May 27, 2018, 19:16:23 PM

You're not very yellow for going out in the deep mountain woods with the unstable weather....and holy crap rattlers.  I have yet to encounter a live rattler in the wild.

That powerline right-of-way "no see feet" stretch of the trail into the creek in your last TR looks like an excellent place to meet a rattler or copperhead. :D

Women want me, doughbellies fear me.<br /><br />Little Debbie Prostaff

BrookieHunter

I've yet to see a rattler in the wild but this report makes me wonder how many I've walked right past without even noticing them.


Stone-Man

Damn nice report - Yaller

Good flicks also.  Nice snake pics,Bro !!!

JT


troutboy_II

First class report!   0:0

/"\Thanks!

Trouitboy



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