11/18/08

Changes Underway

Major changes have taken place the last few days in the trout streams of Great
Smoky Mountains National Park. For one thing, they have gone from being too
warm for this time of the year to being too cold for this time of the year, almost
overnight.

Just three nights ago, I woke up to a strange sound - heavy rain. It rained so hard
in Pigeon Forge (less than a half mile from the spur) that I thought the streams may
be flooded the next morning. I am disappointed to report that quite to the contrary,
the ones I have seen are right the opposite being flooded. The streams are still
very low.  

Yesterday, Angie and I went into the park to check things out and to enjoy the
beautiful snow covered mountains. Driving up the Little Pigeon River, we were
having a difficult time spotting any water. It appeared almost like it did during the
hottest part of the summer from some vantage points along the road.

I don't know what the official stream level of the West Prong of Little Pigeon River is
at the time. What I do know is that the streams reacted to the rain with a rise in
water levels for only a very short time and quickly returned to their very low status.  
The mountains seemed to have just swallowed the rain in one quick gulp.

Almost every time in my life that I have made a bold statement about something I
actually knew little about, I soon found out that I was wrong. This time I am going to
make a bold statement about the water situation in the Great Smoky Mountains and
hope that I will later find out that I was wrong. I am going to state that what has been
the average stream levels for the past few years are not going to be the average
stream levels in the future. The average stream levels are going to decline. I would
not be surprised at all, if the streams never return to what is presently considered
"normal" water levels.

Now that I have put that in writing, lets hope that I made a very stupid statement.
Lets hope that the streams return to normal during the next few days, weeks,
months or at least during the next few years. Currently there is about six inches of
snow in the headwater area of most streams and when that melts, it will may help
the water levels some but not much.

One other thing we noticed was a lot of bears eating everything they can get their
paws on. The first one we spotted was huge. We did not get a picture. The next one
we spotted was much smaller so I decided I would get close to it and shoot some
video. When I climbed the steep hill to get closer and peeped over the huge
boulder that provided cover for my approach, I discovered two bears. As you
probably guessed, the other one was much larger. No, I did not take any video. I
got back to where I started from in a hurry.


Copyright 2008 James Marsh    
All Images are Thumbnails.
Click to see larger size
Bear at a distance
West Prong
Little Pigeon
West Prong
Little Pigeon
Walker's Camp
Prong
Mountains At A
Distance
Taking GPS
Coordinates at  
Various Snow
Depths