My buddy and I drove up from Georgia Thursday with the intent to camp at #24 and fish for a couple of days before driving to Pigeon Forge to meet up with the wives and kids Sat. evening.
After stopping in at Little River Outfitters and chatting with Bill (and picking up some necessary items), we headed up to the trailhead. We chatted with a ranger at the station when we got our permit, and proceeded to the trailhead.
As we started up the trail, it began to rain. No problem. Put on the rainjackets and continue on our way. We passed a couple of hikers on the way up. The water looked good (a little on the high side), but good.
The rain continued the entire hike up (so much for 20% chance of showers), and the water was beginning to rise.
By the time we got to the campsite, rough creek and Little River were getting up there, and we had to wade across rough creek. That is when things got interesting.
We looked at the first campsite on the right. I was contemplating going up the trail and checking out the other sites when my buddy Lee said "Scott, come here." I had a feeling I knew what he saw, and went over to see a bear about 100 yards up the trail coming down towards us. We moved over to the left of the trail, and it spotted us. This is when I expected the bear to take off, just like the other bears I have seen in the wild have done. Only this bear had other ideas. It just came ambling down the trail eyeing us the whole time.
It went into the campsite and sat there staring at us from about 40 yards. I wasn't panicked, but was looking for a rock just in case. Lee was fumbling through has bag looking for his camera. He has been a hunter all his life and has harvested one bear, but this one was as close as he had been to one on the ground. As he looked for his camera, I watched the bear. It was a mature bear, not a cub. It looked at us and then started walking toward us. When it got to about 25 yards, we both stood up and hollered. It took one more step, and we both threw rocks. It slowly walked back into the rhododendrum and then sat and watched us. I told Lee I wasn't camping there, and we started to hike back down.
On the hike back down we saw another full grown bear crossing the trail about 1/2 a mile above the trailhead. It saw us and took off running. Now that's the way a bear is supposed to act!
When we got out, we reported the bear to the Rangers. They said we did the right things, and they filled out a report.
Somebody has obviously fed this bear or left food, and it ate it because it definitely associated us with food. That is a shame. I don't know what will happen to it.
It turned out o.k. though because it poured down rain Thurs., Fri. and Sat.
I heard they evacuated Elkmont, so maybe it was a good thing we didn't stay up at 24.
We did fish some on Friday off the quiet walkways on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon and above Elkmont. The water was high, but I managed 4 small rainbows.
We will be back though. Beautiful up there!