Even in the mountains we couldn't hide from the deluge. Heavy rains foiled our plans to explore an unnamed blue line rumored to hold trout up to 20 inches, instead pushing us further down the road on a search for dry ground in a temperate rainforest. Mother nature did give us a few windows, brief as they were, to do some roadside exploring.
By now though our base camp was getting a little soggy. A pervasive odor of wet dog permeated all of our possessions, and with a forecast calling for humidity levels upwards of 90% we knew our state of mustiness was unlikely to change in the mountains. At the doorstep of the Smokies we decided to grab a motel room and air things out for a night. I've learned that on these extended road trips, despite well-intentioned efforts to maintain a sense of order inside the vehicle, you will inevitably reach a point at which the entire interior will have to be gutted and repacked from scratch. This is as much a matter of personal hygiene as it is an attempt to maintain a certain level of sanity.
The next morning we rose to a late summer sun fighting through thick haze - the proverbial "smoke" on the smokies. Rechardged and repacked, we headed into the park. We weren't the only ones looking forward to getting back on the water.
Before we could wet a line, we'd have to wade through a cesspool of Made-in-China Americana in the gateway tourist trap of Gatlinburg. Thankfully, once we found ourselves between the stream banks, that scene quickly faded to memory.
As is almost always the case, the further we got from the road, the better the fishing. With dusk settling in and a fish ready to eat behind every boulder, I wondered if perhaps we should return the next morning to test the theory further down the trail. But at the bottom of the mountain there was more exploring to do, and the luxury of returning to the drift boat was too much to resist.