Thursday, February 12, 2009

CANOE LESSONS LEARNED

click pictures to enlarge At last the weather is cooperating. Sixty degrees and a lot of sunshine. I had the canoe on top the truck in record time. Today I will head South to Chilhowie Resevoir. Actually I want to paddle through the stump infested water at the tail end of Tellico Lake. Chilhowie Lake spills into Tellico Lake through Chilhowie Dam. The flooded stump field starts right at the bottom of the dam. The water was calm and smooth when I put the canoe in the water but someone decided to release water through the dam while I was half way across the lake to the stump fields. The water is extremely low over where the stumps are because the releases from Chilhowie have been few over the past Winter. TVA has been making repairs on the dam and all but emptied it. Therefore, the waters of Tellico have been down in depth also. But for the moment I have to deal with rather rolling water with a pretty fair size chop on the surface. Humm; the Champlain is handling it just fine. I usually paddle on the left side but now I am forced to paddle on the right side because the current is driving me upstream. Actually I'm really having to paddle hard to keep the canoe driving straight across the channel to the stumps and more shallow water. Interesting. The choppy water is contacting the boat on its left side and the roundness of the canoe's bottom is simply rolling up and over the small waves. Great! Another lesson learned. Chop of this size won't be a detriment to my safety. Of course; chop occurs in varying sizes clear up to and including white caps. Those would be nasty. Anyway; I made it across the channel and am in quieter water. I notice that geese are gathering on the now exposed temporary islands. They are preparing for Spring mating and are in the process of selecting partners. My paddle was striking the side of the canoe as I was fighting chop and disturbed a couple of island residents with my approach. A narrow channel of water that flowed between two islands allowed me to paddle around to the back side of the lake. The water became more shallow as I proceeded. Eventually the canoe ran aground in less than three inches of water. Amazing! I'm in the middle of a lake and in three inches of water. I could get out and walk. I could just push the canoe forward, barely, by sticking the paddle in the mud and pushing. I wondered if it would be possible to become stuck out here. If you enlarge the photo you can see the bottom. Yes, I'm in the middle of the lake. This could only happen to me. The canoe moved in and out of these shallow situations for better than an hour. Then at last I hit open water and could maneuver the boat as it was intended. It was a very interesting morning. I ran through strong current and adapted a paddle stroke to deal with it. I paddled into a situation where the canoe was practically grounded and polled through that. For awhile there I was thinking of portaging across that shallow water to deeper fare. I thought better of it though. With my luck I would step into quick sand. I think I'll go get Douglas and head for the woods. The photo above is of Shad breaking through the water down on Tellico Lake at the East Shore hiking trail. Douglas and I are walking the trail along the lake. Right now I'm sitting on the bank watching Douglas swim and having fun on the shoreline. The wind has stopped completely and not a leaf is moving. Old Sol is rapidly descending behind the horizon over toward the West. Doves can be heard from across the lake cooing out their forlorn calls. Somewhere behind me a screech owl contributes his comments to the oncoming evening. And there is a new sound I haven't heard before. It is as if a steady trickle of water were patting down on a plastic frizby turned upside down. Power lines! The damn power lines! I can't totally escape society even out here. Even electricity makes obnoxious noises. Amazing! The sun is going down quickly so I better be moving along. This has been a full day. A very full day. And I can't wait until tomorrow. Maybe Indian Boundary Lake and more otters. Incidently; there is a Nikon D300 in my very near future. No more excuses for blurry photos.