Townsend Wye

There are several terms that you will hear while you are visiting the Smokies and it helps to have an idea what those terms mean.  It helps to let you in on the place names so that it becomes easier for you to find different areas around the Smokies and follow the directions that the people of the area might give you.  One of those terms is a place name:  the Townsend Wye.  This is the area where Lamar Alexander Parkway and Little River Road intersect.  It forms a ‘Y,’ thus the name.

The shape that the road makes is where this area got its name and it has been called that since these roads were established with the founding of the National Park.  Little River Road from Sugarlands continues past this point to continue toward Tremont and Cades Cove.  Lamar Alexander Parkway is the main road that leaves Maryville and runs through Townsend.  The intersection of these two roads does in fact make a ‘Y’ shape and like many roads that make that shape around this area it is known as the Wye.

AT this ‘Y’ or Wye is something a little special.  As you come out of Townsend, the area to the left is a parking area next to the Little River.  This is the parking area to one of the best tubing rivers in the Smokies.  It is also home to a gently sloped grassy hillside that is a perfect spot for a picnic or for a place to sunbathe   During the summer months, the parking lot here is full of cars and the grassy areas is covered with bodies looking for a place to spread out a blanket and enjoy the sunshine.  Especially if you have spent time in the sometimes chilly water, laying in the grassy and luxuriating in the sunshine is a welcome change.

The most important thing to take away from this is the fact that you are going to hear people refer to the Townsend Wye as a reference point and in directions while you are in town.  For instance, if you are in Maryville and you are asking how to get to Cades Cove, someone is going to say to you to go to the Townsend Wye and take a right.  When you are in Townsend and you are trying to go to Elkmont, they are going to send you to the Wye.  And of course, if you are tubing with any of the tubing companies in Townsend, they are going to tell you that they will drop you off and pick you up at the Wye while you are spending the day tubing all day long.

Ticks and Lyme Disease in the Smoky Mountains

In Townsend, Tn and the Great Smoky Mountains ticks are to be taken very seriously and can be a public health threat. Ticks feed on the blood of three different animals during their development, injecting their saliva that in turn causes intense itching that doesn’t let up.

If you ever get bitten while hiking or camping in the Smokies, take every precaution. Some people can even have severe allergic reactions, and infected ticks can transfer hazardous pathogens.

Throughout the tick’s life cycle, from the larva to nymph to the adult stage, each feed on mammals, including humans. Some stages of the lone star Ticks can be found from March through October in the Smokies. Individual nymphs and adults usually attack themselves to humans and animals by way of overgrown vegetation along trails and wooded areas.

However, hundreds of tiny seed ticks or larva will attach themselves to anyone unfortunate enough to pass by a newly hatched egg mass.

Adult American dog ticks feed on larger mammals, including humans and dogs. They occur throughout the Southeast and can be dispersed by wildlife. The American dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever; fortunately the proportion of infected ticks is very low. The American dog tick however does not transmits Lyme disease.

The blacklegged tick has recently caused concerns – a carrier of Lyme disease in the eastern United States. It has been found on humans in Kentucky. Deer trails in and around Daniel Boone National Forest were where they were found. These ticks are especially treacherous as they are active during the winter-spring months rather than the summer feeding time characteristic of other species. Tennessee is one place where increased numbers of the blacklegged tick have been found due to deer movement and mild winters.

For states like Kentucky, this marks the first significant presence of Lyme disease. While blacklegged ticks are fairly common in the South, incidences of Lyme disease are pretty low compared to regions in the Northeast and north-central United States.

Recommendations for dealing with nuisance or potentially disease-bearing ticks include wearing protective clothing and applying repellents to skin and clothing when you’re going to be outdoors for lengthy periods of time, especially in wooded areas. Additionally, thorough self-inspection where ticks are known or suspected to be active is invaluable. Ticks frequently wander on the body for an hour or more before feeding, and if infected, must feed for several hours before a pathogen is transferred. Detection and removal are important parts of a protection strategy.

Diseases that might occur from a tick bite and its symptoms are relatively general. Anyone who experiences fever, headache, a rash, joint or muscle pains or swollen lymph nodes within 30 days of a tick bite should report the bite and see a doctor immediately.

The Smoky Mountain Brook Trout

The Smoky Mountain Brook trout sport wavy lines, on its dark, olive-green back – it’s their most recognized characteristic. It’s also a literal camouflage in that the brook takes on the appearance of flowing water which allows the brook trout hide from predators that lurk above.You’ll also notice its pale yellow spots and a few small red spots if you’re lucky enough to catch one.

A main giveaway that you’ve caught a Brook trout is the white edging along its fins. However, they can be a definite disadvantage when it comes to keeping hidden from predators.

Brook trout swim efficiently in water as shallow as the depth of its body due to its length. They have the ability to maneuver around and through a variety of obstacles, which is an asset in capturing food no matter how deep the water.

You’ll find brook trout in colder, clearer streams. They’re also seen as the most cold tolerant of all trout found in the Smokies.

Brook-trout populations reach as far south as Georgia along the Great Smoky Mountain chain, but have been steadily declining since at least 1900 and probably earlier. And not only is it due to what is the most common thought – the more adaptable rainbow trout. Overfishing, as well as logging, was prevalent and destroyed many of lower elevation habitats and the more accessible areas of highland streams that the brook had come to rely on.

Logging was essentially eliminated with the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1936. Still, brook trout populations have continued to steadily decrease in the area. Accordingly, rainbow trout that were first introduced into the regional streams in 1910 have slowly displaced the remaining brook trout, thus sending them higher and higher into the area’s headwater streams. These headwater areas are thought to be the brook trout’s last refuge among the Great Smoky Mountains as the upstream movement of the rainbow may be finally limited by physical barriers such as waterfalls or other obstacles created by park employees on the brook trout’s behalf.

The brook trout is at its best in waters with a temperature range of 40 to 68 degrees. Still, brook trout feed at temperatures as low as 34 degrees.

Somewhere between 72 and 77 degrees is where you’ll find a brook’s tolerance. Usually this is reached at some point during the summer months. There are of course exceptions during this time, like to avoid a predator or hunt. During this time brook may navigate into warmer waters but only for a short time.

Brook trout generally have the shortest life span of the various trout species, usually living on average 4 years. Their overall growth is dependent on such natural factors as water temperature, habitat, and competition from other fish. The brook will rarely weigh more than three pounds, even in productive waters, by the end of their third year of life.

The catch-and-release process seems to provide the brook trout with a lot of stress at spawning time. It’s widely thought that the brook should be left unmolested during this season, even though some brook trout waters permit year round fishing.