With a few days off from teaching, I decided to pack in to #24 for two nights and then head up to #30 for the last night. Wednesday afternoon found me in the park heading up the trail from Elkmont. I arrived near sundown and after setting up camp and eating supper, I got to bed early.
The next day was going to be a long one. I wanted to hit up Fish Camp Prong on day one and wanted to explore into sections I haven't fished yet. I got a reasonably early start although not too early. The water was cool enough that there isn't much point in getting on the water at sunrise.
I wanted to get the Fish Camp "slam" so I started on the lower portion and fished my way up. It was slow for awhile until I saw a few yellow stoneflies hatching and tied on a Neversink Caddis. Almost immediately I was into fish including several rainbows and the first brown. The brown having been caught, I got back out on the trail and started upstream to look for brookies.
After walking for awhile, I got back in and started fishing. The action was really inconsistent and I spent most of the day switching back and forth between the Neversink Caddis, a Parachute Adams, and a double nymph rig. The fish would turn on to one pattern for awhile and then it would just go dead...really strange.
After finally picking up a tiny brookie to complete the slam, I headed back down and decided to fish up LR from the Goshen Prong trail bridge to #24. I got in at the bridge and started working upstream and things really started picking up. The fish were loving just about any dry now so I was having a great time. Several pools yielded 3-4 fish with some being fairly nice sized. Finally I could see the orange of my tent and was somewhat relieved. A long day of fishing will make you tired and ready for a good hot meal.
As I climbed the bank towards my tent, I did a double take. Something didn't look right with my tent. As I got closer, I saw that the pools were either bent or broken and then I saw several gashes in the tent. Upon closer inspection, it seems a bear decided it would be fun to tear up my tent while I was gone. One of the webbing stake loops was ripped completely off the tent (the tent itself being what actually broke) and 2 out of 3 pools were broken and the third was bent. One broken poll had punctured the poll sleeve and made a large gash in the tent itself. There was some sort of moisture (bear slobber?) on the side of the tent along with some mud.
Apparently, some moron decided to bury some trash very close to the spot that I happened to pitch my tent. The bear had dug it all up and then apparently walked over to my tent and tried to climb it or something. Please, if you are going to do a backcountry trip, PACK IT IN, PACK IT BACK OUT...
Based on where the polls were broke, it looked like the bear tried to lay down on the tent. It was still semi-standing but it won't be any good to me. Thankfully the bear didn't go so far as to get inside and chew up my sleeping bag and thermarest so I guess there is a bright side...
I decided to pack everything up and head out. On the way down, no more than 300 yards below the camp, I saw a good sized bear that showed absolutely no fear at all of me. I clapped and waved trying to make it run off but it just stared at me. Since it didn't seem aggressive, I snapped a couple of pictures and then hustled on down the trail.
Anyway, I ran into a guy from the wildlife divison on the way down (hunting pigs) and let him know what happened. He said #24 would probably be closed in the next day or two so if you're planning on a trip up there, check to see if its closed first...