Before the Fires / by Dave Hileman

This is my favorite photo from when I spent four days in the Smoky Mountains at the end of October. The drought was in evidence every place you went as streams were flowing much slower and lower than had been seen in a long time. The leaves were mostly brown except near the source of water like these in the background. Even this photo was taken from a rock in the middle of the stream. A local professional photographer who makes his living with photos from these mountains told me he had never seen "that rock before." Besides the displaced wildlife, scared hills and destroyed buildings, all that will survive, regrow or be rebuilt, there were fatalities. Remember them and those who fight these fires in your prayers. This section of the park near Tremont, as far as the reports I have read, remains untouched by the fires.