Friday, March 23, 2007

stunt pilot buck jones

Tell me Mr. Buck Jones, where is it that you go? You and your flap, flap, flappin' little leather wings, dipping and diving and swerving and flying around my head at noon. Don't you know little buddy, don't you know that bats aren't supposed to fly around during the middle of the day? You probably have rabies. I'm glad you don't bite me.

I hit up Gravity Head on Friday night with Ryan, Yaniv, and Chris then left directly from New Albany on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, yet again, I decided to take 441 straight through the Smokies because I wanted to go to the fly shop in Cherokee. I knew it was a mistake but I always forget about how bad the stupid fucking traffic is in the Gatlinburg area. Sean and I hiked into the site at the bottom of Forney Creek, slightly less than 3 miles from the end of the Road to Nowhere. Luckily I had packed steaks and a growler of Bell's Hopslam to ease to my frazzled nerves. Sean had a good bit of single malt and we got pretty tight that night. We cooked the steaks on sticks over the fire.

The wild pigs were real bad in camp. The ground was all torn up throughout and the little bastards even had the nerve to come rooting around while we slept. The rooted up the area where we cooked and where I was laying next to the fire.

Sean I explored the area on Sunday, walked down to where Forney Creek empties into Fontana. Pretty weird landscape. Ran into a group of backpackers that were on the wrong side of the river and too chicken shit to cross it. Who knows how they got there.

I did a good bit of fishing that day but only ended up with a 6-7" rainbow under the bridge at the junction of Bear Creek trail and Forney Creek trail. But I did catch it on a Hares Ear nymph I tied myself. Which was pretty cool.

After a couple pulls on Sean's signature backcountry whiskey vessel (a metal fuel bottle), he set off down the trail and I hit the creek again but came up fishless. There was a pretty serious hatch on, maybe Blue Winged Olives, but the fish just weren't feeding on the surface.

The next day I hiked up Forney Creek about 4 miles to the confluence of Jonas and Forney Creek. It's a neat hike which goes past some old logging camps and early white settlements. I spent the mid-day with a bat I named Stunt Pilot Buck Jones. I seriously think it had rabies. I also spent about 2 hours fishing up Jonas Creek which was extremely brushy. It was tough making my way upstream. But the little fish were hungry and I missed a lot of strikes. I think mainly because they were so little they couldn't get the hook in their mouth. But also probably because I'm slow.

Daniel showed up sometime in the afternoon and we fished a bit I think but not too long. He had stopped to see Sean on his way up and Sean told him about the steaks so lo and behold he packed some in too. That was cool. So we cooked steaks (on a grill this time) and shot the shit about his new life as a PhD student at Clemson studying fisheries biology. He told me some cool stuff about Shad and fish ladders.

The next morning we headed down the creek a couple hundred yards to a big, deep pool I found the day before and fished around it for a couple hours with no exciting results except that I lost 4 rechargeable batteries out of my camera in the creek. They went deep down under some rocks and I couldn't retrieve them. Nothing like pollutin' to make you feel good about yourself.

We decided the fishing in the Smokies sucked and that we'd head down to Panthertown where I knew the fishing would be better. The hike out was on the longish side for a fishing hike, ~7 miles, and the first bit was pretty uphill and the last bit was pretty down hill. The worst part was that Daniel had to hike the whole thing the day before going the other way. But we did run across Silas the Horse Wrangler.

We were seated on the trail after the long uphill having a drink and a snack and we hear something loud coming around the corner. I yell "HEY BEAR! HEY BEAR!" Thinking it might be a bear running down the trail at us. It turns out if was a dude on a horse with a pack horse in tow. He laughed at me. He says, "You thought I was a bear? That shit don't work man. The Park Service tell you that's what you're supposed to do. But it don't work."

He had long gray hair and long gray handlebar mustache. The rest of his face was very freshly shorn however. He wore denim overalls and no shirt. His small but obvious gut hung out. He was quite good on the horse though. There were trees across the trail ahead. He noted that the trail crews were lazy and that he knew because his brother worked 'em. He rode his horses down into the hollow and up the steep side around the trees and back onto the trail. He might have been Eustace Conway for all I know. I'm just going to call him Silas the Horse Wrangler.

Daniel and his serious vehicle.

Act II sometime soon.


D Hanks said...

Cool Dude. I'll try to get up my pics soon... I'm just so damn busy!


catherine said...

so i know i just hung up the phone with you, but i hadn't gotten to the Eustace reference, which made it all that much better. thanks.

John said...

Great post. We're heading up to Forney Creek as part of a cross country trip and I stumbled on your post while researching the area. My ancestors were the first non-indigenous settlers in the area. Looking forward to checking it our for myself but glad I found your post as well. Thanks. John. Finding

Matthew D Dunn said...

Thanks John. I'll be in Vancouver this summer. Maybe I'll find something good to do on your website.
Have a great time in North Cackalack.