The day was overcast, but with no rain, and temperature in the 50s. This was the first decent day I've had to go hiking or fishing since the snow of December 18. So, I headed out from Waynesville through Cherokee and north on US 441 toward Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National .
I decided to scout the Kephart Prong trail, wearing my neoprene waders and carrying my hiking boots along for an easier walk back to the truck. Having not been up this trail, I wanted to check out the creek and the trail, for future fishing and hiking expeditions. I carried my small creek fly rod, an LL Bean 6'-6" 2-3 wt along just for kicks.
I followed the trail from the trailhead on US 441 on the Oconaluftee River to the northwest, following the creek with several foot log crossings for two miles or so to the Kephart shelter. At the shelter, the Kephart Prong trail turns into two separate trails, the Sweat Heifer Branch trail to the south, and the Grassy Branch trail to the north. These trails continue up to intersect with the Appalachian Trail north of Newfound Gap.
I hiked and fished up the creek as far as the shelter. The trout were not interested in whatever I had tied on, but I enjoyed a cigar and being outdoors after being cooped up in the house for what seems to be months with our brutal winter. Along the way I leapfrogged several times with a trail maintenance crew, with the sound of their chain saw punctuating the steady sound of the creek cascading to its confluence with the Oconaluftee.
At the shelter, I enjoyed my turkey pastrami with Lorraine cheese, a banana, and plenty of water. After swapping the heavy neoprene waders for my hiking boots, I headed back down the trail. The two miles to the truck were rapidly accomplished wearing decent boots and not stopping to fish.
All in all, a good day to be outside. But what day isn't???