Monday, March 20, 2006

spring break epic 2006: part I (of III)

I'm back bitches. Spring break was awesome...and long. Now, however, it is time for school hell. Now until the end of the semester will be pretty much very very stressful, but such is life.

This spring break I did much backpacking, hiking, fishing, shooting of the shit, camping, drinking and other sundry entertainments. I spent 6 nights in a row in my new tent which was pretty cool. I was shooting for 7, but alas, it didn't happen. But we'll save that for part II. I also nailed down some plans for the summer, at least tentatively. I'm going to head back to Western to work on my master's thesis research some more in the hopes of getting some data that is publishable in a good journal. I think I could publish now, but I want to shoot for Evolution. But more on that in part III.

I got to Gatlinburg TN last Friday around 7pm and had a couple brews and dinner at the Smoky Mountain brewery. The beer was decent, a winter warmer and a pale ale, the food sucked. I drove up into the Smokies, stopping at the highest driveable point in the park, Newfound Gap (~5800') to take some pictures of the stars etc.

This is what a long exposure and some photoshopping will get you. Unfortunately the longest exposure by camera has is 15 seconds.

I then drove down the mountain into North Carolina and camped in Smokemont for the night. That was easily the worst part of the trip and I don't want to dwell on it. Several things were very frustrating.

Driving through the Cherokee the next day I saw that they put up new road signs, with both the english and the cherokee names. The Cherokee alphabet was invented by one man in the 1800s I think. Pretty weird.

After a frustrating detour to Bryson City, I met up with Sean and his girlfriend Krista and we left for Panthertown Valley.

Sean took us into the valley via a relatively little-used route along the north rim to Blackrock Mountain at about 4900'. This is Sean and Krista on the side of Blackrock. Fenian the dog is off to the left at the end of the leash. CLICK FOR A BIGGER VERSION.

This is the view looking south into Panthertown. Little Green mountain is to the left (east) and the back of Big Green is to the right (west). I'm not very good at stiching together photos...yet. Panthertown is really cool because it is a "hanging valley". The valley floor is very flat, as you can see, which is strange for southern appalachia where the vast majority of valleys are steep sided, v-shaped valleys. It's hanging because the average altitude of the valley floor is 3600'. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

There are several nice waterfalls in the valley. This is one of the more famous and accessible: Schoolhouse Falls. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

There are a lot of unmarked trails in Panthertown, some of them are very faint and some are non-existent. Lots of them go through Rhododendron "hells" like this one. We actually crawled right through that tangle.

Dr. Sean O'Connell:

I only caught 5 trout on the trip. I fished for probably a total of 10 or 12 hours, actually on the water casting. It was of course broken up into several smaller chunks of fishing. But 5 fish isn't so great, but it's not terrible either. I caught all of them on one small section of the Tuckasegee river in Panthertown. I won't say exactly where, because it was a pretty freakin' awesome spot, but you could figure it out just by looking at the pictures and a topo map. The cool thing was that allt he fish I caught were wild brook trout. They are such beautiful fish. I think the average size southern appalachian "spec" (for speckled trout as per the locals) is about 5 inches long. Panthertown's trout, for some reason, are much bigger. I caught one that was probably about 12" long. That's a big southern apps brooky.


This is the 12" spec I caught (ok maybe not 12"), it's jaw was even starting to curve up a little bit. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

They are remarkably beautiful fish. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

The place I caught four of the fish (the fifth was caught downstream about 200 yards on a much smaller section of the creek). CLICK FOR BIGGER.

Sean took some pictures of me fishing the pool. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

Sean skipped a lot of rocks.

This is a shot of the valley and the west face of Big Green. CLICK FOR BIGGER.


Anonymous said...

Mateo, I am living through you. It looks like you had such a beautiful trip! The fishing spot sure looks like a spot in Deep Creek, but I'll assume it's not since you said Panthertown...but were you just trying to throw folks off to keep it a secret?

Anonymous said...

oh yeah Mateo, and about the hipster blog before. i have tickets to see Wilco next month.

Anonymous said...

There's no way that fish was 12 inches long. You must have been using the same ruler that measured your cock as seven inches.

Johnathan Tam

Anonymous said...

I like the first part of the three part series. And by the way, ignore John. Man, who ever knew that guy could be so vicious? I always thought he was the nicest guy at B. Reed Henderson High. He was certainly one of the smartest, so maybe he's still smart, but just not so nice anymore?

Collin Hamilton

D Hanks said...

I think the falls you have pictured are called "Granny Burrell Falls". I actually slid down them on that first WCU outing to Panthertown.

Matthew D Dunn said...'s Granny Burrell Falls. Definately go fish there.