Monday, December 29, 2008

INDIAN BOUNDARY LAKE AND OTTERS

click on photos to enlarge It's 11:30 AM and I have paddled my canoe three quarters of the way around this 100 acre lake. Indian Boundary Lake is a man made mountain lake that is located approximately fifteen miles up the Chirohalla Skyway from Tellico Plains, Tennessee. I wanted to experience this lake in the colder months before the tourists arrive with the warmpth of Spring. It is a mountain jewell. No motorized boats are permitted and it offers the flavor of wilderness to those inclined to seek out that experience. I fall into that catagory. The South end of the lake contains very narrow water "pathways" barely wide enough to allow passage of a canoe. I followed on such a water trail for what seemed like a half hour only to be halted by a tree that had fallen across the water path bank to bank blocking further travel. This exploration is great fun! As I was cruising the shoreline; an otter appeared from nowhere. The inquisitive little rascal circled my canoe, constantly submerging and surfacing in an attempt to discover what this strange aborition was that had invaded his space. I tried my best to get good photos of him but he is a quick little guy. I paddled on and noticed that the little imp was following me. He would continuously surface and disappear. Then he finally disappeared. After another forty minutes I started thinking about my new furry friend here in the lake and wished he would appear again. And he did. This time he had a fish in his mouth. He submerged with the fish in his mouth and reappeared at an undercut in the lake bank by a brush pile. I sculled the canoe over his way silently and watched for a photo moment. I could not only see him eating the fish, but could hear him eating. Loud crunching and munching sounds were coming from under the bank's overhang. I snapped picture after picture hoping that at least one or two would be ledgeable. I desperately need a high quality camera. The photo conditions were miserable. It was bright sun on the lake and dark, dark under that overhang. I tried flash and I tried digital zoom. Digital zoom with this camera is terrible. But I clicked away. If you look closely at the photo above one can see the fish and the otter's face fairly well. I'm taking a lot of pictures of this otter because I may not have another opportunity to capture one on film for a long, long time. I have been roaming these lakes for four years now and have never had the pleasure of meeting one of these sweet guys.

The otter held the fish and stared at the canoe. He wasn't spooked by it. He acted curious. Then he munched and crunched and occasionally would look at me and emit a growling sound much like a dog. I was totally enthralled by this creature. He ate the entire fish and I guess he figured he'd had enough of me. He quickly bolted out from under the overhang and into the brush.
But even then; his curiosity made him appear again and growl at me from the safety of the brush pile.
And then he circled the canoe, popping up here and there. I became giddy and started to chuckle softly. He surfaced again; barked at me and was gone. This was well worth the trip up here. Wow! What a morning! I noticed a very picturesque piece of shoreline and decided to go ashore and sit awhile and maybe eat some trail mix. This canoe is great. It is so easy to maneuver; and it's quiet and nature friendly. I love the quiet of it. Hunger strikes and a bite to eat is in order. Ah, for a hearty meal. Don't get any better than this. The area I am in must be covered with woodpeckers. Their sounds are almost deafening. They are flitting among the trees, woodpeckers and flickers, everywhere. One bird in particular ends his rat, tat, tat with two resounding solid thuds. It's as if the bird is loosening up the wood with his preliminary hammering and then finally slamming his bill under the wood as a chisel to pry the loosened wood apart. Amazing birds. The Champlain canoe is handling flawlessly. I am feeling really capable with it and good about it. The paddle strokes are easy and come naturally to me now and require no thought. I tested my ability to maneuver in the tight confines of the water paths I spoke of earlier and found that experience pleasurable and non threatening. As I stated in another blog entry; the challenge is entering and exiting the canoe. I do so much want to do a couple overnight trips in the canoe just to be sure of my abilities. That will happen soon. I do, however, miss Douglas. This whole experience is lessened greatly without his presence. I am really afraid to put him in the canoe. He is a hundred pounds of movement I'm not sure I can handle. I need to esxperience this boat fully loaded, which will make it sit lower in the water, thereby making it more stable. Perhaps then his additional weight wouldn't have as much negative affect. Happy is no problem as she only weighs thirty pounds. I'll figgure it out. I have the Gheenoe for Douglas, and I've got some trip ideas for that boat that will surely include him. This lake is amazing! Pristine beauty surrounds me in every direction. And it has otters in it. What a morning! I've got to paddle back. I have a date with Douglas for this afternoon. He needs his time in the woods to stretch his legs. How silent I can move! It's time to leave. But I'll certainly be back again and again. This is a dream scape!! about otters: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lontra_canadensis.html