In Appalachia, you usually hear the river before it ever comes into view. The natural topography and dense woods covering the Blue Ridge Mountains can conceal relatively large streams from view. But, we're at the top, and up here in the "balds" there's no place to hide...unless you're a brook trout.
The riverbed is an oasis for all manner of wildlife. The surrounding balds drive wildlife to the refuge of the trees and their underlying water source; much like this Northern water snake.
Sparse pockets of rhododendron still line the stream banks in true Appalachian-fashion, but take just a few steps from the river and blueberry bushes, tall grasses, and picture-perfect views are all that remain.
Concealment is key, and any hint of a shadow or a ripple sent upstream will result in a spooked hole, or two. walk softly, and carry a big stick—bamboo is the real ticket.