Murphy's Law: "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong"
(Can't take credit for that one, that was all Justin's idea)
After arriving at the Oconaluftee visitor's center at 7:00 to fill out our permit for campsite #53 on deep creek, we found out that the campsite was closed due to aggressive bear activity. At this point, i should have known things weren't going our way. We didn't see anything about that on the parks website when we looked thursday midday, but that doesn't really matter i guess. Since we had such good luck there on our fall trip, we decided to go lower on deep creek and fish the bend. That was an area we didn't get to fish in the fall and figured it would be a good stretch to fish since it gets so far away from the trail.
After setting up camp, we started fishing about 12:00. I started off with a dry/dropper combo of a stimulator and a yellarhammer softhackle and justin tried one of his own flies, a carolina wulff (i think). The temperature was warm and the water temp was about 61. Fishing was, at best, sporadic throughout the day. I used the same combo to catch the majority of our fish as i found nothing else that they were keyed in on. There were no major hatches occurring and the fish just didn't seem to be looking up. I had my short bamboo rod with me since we were planning going up high for specs, so i couldn't really throw heavy nymphs to get to the bottom. Had i brought another rod and been able to dredge the bottom, i think the results would have been better. The fishing wasn't bad by any means, just not what we were expecting. Plenty of fish were brought to hand including one nice 12" brown that smacked my stimulator the instant it hit the water. We both thought it was about a 16" fish when it was fighting but it was a little smaller than we thought and guessed it at about 12". It put up a heck of a fight on my bamboo rod, though!
This is where things began to get interesting. After fishing until about 6:30, we returned to camp for supper only to find that my stove won't work. I fiddled with it for a minute and could get nothing, but no big deal right? We'll just start a fire.....wrong! It had rained that morning and all of the wood was soaking wet. We tried and tried but couldn't get anything going, the wood would just smoke when the flame hit it and it would go out. This posed a problem due to the menu of dehydrated meals for supper that was supposed to last us until sunday. After a rather bland supper of roasted almonds (lance crackers and jerky for justin), we made a plan to pack up the next morning and head out to fish straight fork all day and head back home saturday night. If only that plan had worked out.....
We awoke about 4:30 saturday morning to some moderate rain and lightning, although it was short lived and the lightning wasn't close. After a quick nap, we woke back up at daylight to find it lightly raining again. We started to execute our plan of packing up when the bottom fell out, this time accompanied with close cloud to ground lightning. It's hard to explain the feeling of being caught out during something like that knowing that you are basically helpless. There were several strikes that hit so close that the noise it made hurt my ears a little. I'm sure some of y'all have experienced a similar and probably worse situation and know what i'm talking about. After tearing down the tent and packing out in record time, we began our hike out with a little haste and packs that felt like they weighed 10+lbs heavier due to everything being rain soaked.
The creek was up, we were filthy and soaking wet, and our nerves were shot so we just decided to chalk this trip up. We would like to think that everyone has had at least one camping trip like this in their lifetime, but maybe it is just us. We did learn some valuable lessons about extra rations and an extra stove, though. I'm just glad we didn't do our trip that we had planned on doing: 12 mile hike down from the dome to upper hazel. It would not have been fun to find out the stove didn't work that far back! I got home and noticed that was about the only spot in the park that received rain that morning, but oh well, when things aren't going you're way the seem to snowball and accumulate exponentially.
Will post some pics when i get home, hope y'all were able to get out and enjoy the weather this weekend.