Guided Trips


Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Suppressing the Pain

Training began to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon a few months ago.  Our group did several long hikes together, including a few with as much elevation gain and loss as you can come up with here in Tennessee.  Nothing here in this part of the country can prepare you for the grueling hike into the Grand Canyon however.

We started out the hike fresh and excited to reach our destination.  The deep snow at the top cloaked the rim and upper canyon walls in a blanket of white, giving us views that many people don't get the opportunity to see when they visit the Grand Canyon.  The various shades of sandstone contrasted beautifully with the gleaming snow.  As we reached the edge of the rim to begin hiking, the clouds were slowly breaking up to reveal the icy blue sky behind, adding more color to the scene.  Shafts of sunlight split the air above the canyon illuminating our destination below and then fading again as the clouds moved by.

Catherine McGrath Photograph

The upper trail was in great shape due to the fresh snowfall.  Instead of layers of filthy mud where the mules had been trampling the trail, the fresh blanket of snow provided the perfect hiking surface.  By the time we had descended to Indian Garden however, we had dropped below the snow line.  The first three miles or so of trail soon gave way to mud in abundance.  Below Indian Garden the trail was in great shape again though.  The trail was firm instead of muddy. 

As we descended the Devil's Corkscrew, quickly losing altitude as we closed in on the river, our muscles began to burn with the unaccustomed hiking.  By the time we reached the river, everyone was sore to some degree.  Thankfully, my heavy pack never really bothered me too much.  Occasional adjustments kept my hips and shoulders comfortable for the most part.  Finally, after several twists and turns along a small creek, the trail emerged at the Colorado River.  Our excitement was soon tempered by the realization that we still had to hike a mile or so before reaching camp.  Still, the worst of the trail was behind us and we closed in on camp as the light was fading. 

Catherine McGrath Photograph

We reached camp before dark and quickly pitched tents and got settled in before full dark came on.  Soon members of our group were spotting various animals running around in the deepening shadows including foxes and even a ringtail.  Our food was safely secured in the ammo boxes provided for that purpose.  While hiking we didn't have time to be sore.  The views did a magnificent job of suppressing the pain, or at least distracting us enough so we didn't notice.  However, once in camp, we took Ibuprofen to ease the pain in our legs, and after a good supper, we all went to bed to sleep the sleep of exhaustion.  The next two days would be packed with adventure, and we needed plenty of rest to prepare for the good times ahead...


  1. Loving it so far and looking forward to seeing some of those gorgeous trout from the bottom of that Canyon. Thanks for sharing.


  2. James Marsh1:05 PM

    I know, you couldn't help it, could you. You just had to do it, didn't you. You just had to make me jealous. Well, you did a good job of it. I'm jealous.

  3. Ben,

    Glad you're enjoying it...this was an awesome trip and I'm enjoying reliving it as I recall the events...


    Bright Angel is a place I'm sure you would really enjoy. The hike down was brutal really made riding a mule down sound attractive, especially by the time we arrived in camp all sore and tired...

    David Knapp



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