Thursday, November 19, 2009

CHALLENGING MOMENTS

you must click on the pictures to enlarge them


This new blog is a continuation of the original.  The blog site has made changes to procedure and I found it necessary to start this new blog site.  I have imported the entire original blog to this one.  The format is a bit different.  I have to learn how this works all over again.
The blog site has changed many processes for posting pictures. I only recently found out about this. I'm not certain what the first completed blog entry will look like on this new site. I guess we'll both be made better aware at the end of the entry. If the wheel isn't broken; don't fix it. It wasn't broken.
I did place a link on the old blog site that leads to this one.  Thanks for your patience and understanding












I was looking forward to this trip for two weeks. I wanted to load the canoe to the max with camping gear just to see how it handled and how much additional weight I could stow aboard if needed. I also wanted to try out a couple pieces of new gear I procured recently. Douglas and I arrived at Calderwood Lake at around 9:30AM today. We couldn't hope for better weather conditions. After a brief look about I proceeded to unload all the "stuff" that somehow must fit into a sixteen foot canoe. I sat the canoe on the ground and turned to look at the contents in the back of the truck. Then I looked back at the canoe. Then another glance at the stuff in the truck. Douglas earned a look also. Would this work? I quickly attached the stabilizers to the boat. They require no more than a minute to fasten onto the gun wales. Next the OZ tent. Whoops! It will not slide under the center seat. Without Douglas; it would work. But he needs a space to sit in. There was no other alternative but to remove the rear seat from the boat. The tent package slid nicely under the center seat and nested on the bottom of the canoe dead center.




All the other gear was thoughtfully placed into the boat. I lay a tarp over the OZ tent so Douglas wouldn't soil it with his muddy feet. The boat was in the water as I loaded it. I stepped in and extended the left stabilizer and pushed away from the shore with the paddle. I then knelt forward and extended the right stabilizer and paddled to shore until the bow barely touched the embankment. Douglas made sever feints at getting in due to the small space he would be confined in. He wasn't sure where he was to go. Finally he hopped off the bank and into the bow and laid down on the uneaven surface below him. We were off.






The very first thing I noticed was that the (Secondary stability) of the canoe was like I have never experienced. This boat did not need the stabilizers even with Douglas on board. Of course he wasn't moving around either. He had no place to go. But, the canoe did not have any tendency to roll at all. I felt the additional weight at the paddle, however. It wasn't a bad thin but, I knew I was moving a lot more weight through the water than normal. Lets see; I would say the boat was carrying about 500 lbs altogether. The canoe did not appear to displace much more water than normal, although the bow did have a lot more ballast than normal. Douglas is 80lbs and the end of the OZ tent was under him. The canoe neveer steered better. The weight of the gear and Douglas trimmed the boat perfectly. We were making about 2 1/2 to 3 miles per hour paddling gently. Douglas slept the whole way to the camp spot.


He is used to an engine and his level of excitement increases and wains with the variation of engine RPM's. A canoe paddle is dead silent and he was rocked to sleep to the music of water gently lapping against the side of the boat.



It was an uneventful trip to my favorite camp spot on the hill located half way down the lake. The trip took about an hour of steady paddling. The boat bumped the embankment nose on and Douglas hopped onto dry land. I then put the canoe along side the shoreline and tied it off front and back.

I will never again camp where I have to carry the contents of a canoe and then the canoe itself up hill. There are other camp sites that sit lower on hill sides and I shall use them from now on.






I did successfully drag it all up the hill. The first order of business was to set up the OZ tent. The Forest Service has created designated tent spots, it seems, and I spread the thick ground cloth upon one of those spaces. The tent was unwrapped and ready to go.




I have the set up procedure captured in photos below and above. Once opened up, as shown above, the left side of the tent bundle is pulled out to the left as shown below:




Then the right side of the tent is simply pulled out (pivoted) out to the right.




One can see the opening that one walks through in the center of the two sides. All that is needed is to grab a handle located inside the tent at the peak where you see the two sides come together forming the top of the "A" and pull the tent up around you. Simple. And it only takes 30 seconds.





There it is. Very simple. There also is a canopy that can be pulled out if needed. A small fire can be had under it or one can simply sit and enjoy the scenery out of the sun and rain.


The poles used to hold the canopy up are the only free standing poles supplied. The tent itself is built around its own framework. I went back later and straightened up the sagging canopy.


The hardware supplied is of the highest quality I have ever seen supplied with a tent. The thought put into the design of the hardware and the tent itself is to manufacture a tent that is totally reliable and dependable with longevity built in.



A simple rope tensioner is designed to work fast and be strong. Look at it's simplicity. Uncomplicated and totally reliable.

The canopy poles are designed to extend and lock with a simple twist. Their height can be adjusted to suit uneven ground thereby keeping the canopy level or, if desired, it can be set with a slight pitch to better shed water.










The stitching is amazing! I could find no defects anywhere on the tent. And the fabric is heavy and totally waterproof.


There is a window in both the left and the right side of the front flaps. See above.

The flaps are held down with velcro. Simply pull them open and roll up the covering.

















The hinges that allow the tent frame to expand into its form are strong and durable. This thing's made for the long term.



The braces located at the corners of the tent are formed perfectly. They are round so as not to injure the tent fabric.



The frame pieces on the left and right sides slide; one piece acting as a stationary rail and the other sliding upon it as the tent is picked up off the ground. When locked; they must be manually moved in order to dissasemble the unit.







The above shot will give an idea of the soundness of the design. It's strong. The trade off is that the tent is heavy. The weight is 30 pounds. But then; I'm not carrying it on my back. Just up a hill or two. Whew! Below is the OZ tent with canopy up.






I will insert the link to the American vendor soon. I don't have it handy right now but I promise I will get it in here. Incidently; my canoe is a sixteen footer and the big tent was impossible to slide under both the center seat and the front seat. I had to remove the front seat from the boat. Other canoe makes may not have this difficulty. A 17 foot boat would be a breeze. The OZ tent is made in a smaller version also. I highly recommend this tent to canoeists who paddle flat water with no portages anticipated. Portage situations are best left to pack tents due to their low weight and packability. But; my goodness what a great tent!
Actually without Douglas I would have rested the front of the tent on the front seat and pushed the other end as far as it would go under the center seat. Everything would have worked out fine. The model tent I have is the RV2. There is an RV1 that may have been more appropriate for a sixteen foot boat.




The American OZ tent dealer information is directly below. They are professional and processing is very fast.








  • USA - Family Tent Camping








3708 Lakeview Dr. Winnebago, Illinois 61088 USA Phone: 866 917 4083 (Toll Free) Cell: 815 289 9043 Contact: Randy McCauley Email: sales@oztent.us Email: support@oztent.us Web: www.oztent.us





He swims in the lake and then blasts around in the woods at top speed.























Go dance in the water my golden son
then roll in leaves and have your fun
Bath in the purity of this place
breathe deep its beauty and it's grace






  • I just saw him jump back away from a ravine and then cautiously re-approach it again. He just now jumped backward again. My worse nightmare! If he uncovered a copperhead snake and would be bitten; he would die for sure. There is no way I could get him to help. I yelled at him "NO, NO". I calmly said "sit boy; sit." And he did. I ran as fast as I could to him. There about five feet in front of him was a black rat snake. I was releaved. The snake remained fixated on Douglas. No damage could be done here to either Douglas or the snake. My boy would approach with curiosity; not intent to harm. I went back for the camera. What follows is an interesting series of photos.

















 

 He is poised;  ready to strike





The snake lay along side a trickle of water in the damp soil with his eyes on Douglas. They were in close proximity of each other. The snake would rear back and extend the forward part of it's body about a foot high and strike at the dog. I clicked away with the camera. I could not get a clean picture of an actual strike because everytime the snake would lunge; I would jerk. A natural reaction that is hard to control. I finally talked Douglas into coming away. I had thought that snakes would be dorment by now but, was incorrect in that thinking. I am so glad it was not a venomus snake. Calderwood is noted for it's copperheads and rattlesnakes. I thank Maw Nature for giving my boy a black rat snake to enjoy for awhile and not the other type.




 The Strike.  Douglas and I both jumped at the lightning quickness of the snakes strike.  Yep;  I jerked the camera and got a blurred picture.  I'll do better when I run across a rattle snake or copperhead.  Promise.













I only brought tennis shoes with me this trip and wished for my hiking boots after seeing that snake.












Hunger strikes! The stove and fuel bottle in the photo date back to the eighties. They burn hot and are reliable. However; the msr pumps for the fuel bottle is of very poor quality. (MSR; I hope you read this.) This, the latest pump, is the third one on that old fuel bottle. I bought it two weeks ago. Would you believe it; this one seeps fuel around the plunger. It's brand new. I have a low tolerance for poor quality. I may throw it out in the yard with all the other items, electronics and mechanical, that have been constructed of less than acceptable quality.  Looks like we have chunky chicken soup coming up.






I really needed everything you see in the photo.  Essential!  Well, it is essential.
















I had heard that rain was moving in tomorrow. I want to spend two nights out here but as usual; I have to play it by ear. I am concerned more with wind than I am with rain. If I paddle 2.5 miles per hour into a wind that is blowing 20 or 30 miles per hour; well, you get the idea. It can be done but I don't want to try it carrying the load I have in the canoe. Douglas is having a great time out here. I become happy when he's happy.








Come sit beside me golden boy,
 
        
you know you are my pride and joy.
I lay my hand upon your head,
you look at me theres nothing said.
The look of trust is sheltered there,
You know that I'm the one who cares,
I'm here for you thru thick and thin,
Clear down the line until the end.  And forever more
  





We just returned from a very steep climb up the mountain behind us.

















Douglas decided half way up was far enough. Of course I was ready for the summit but, I let him call the shots.






































The views are spectacular from up here. We are high above the lake. The cliff side we climbed is near verticle and I have to brace my foot against a tree stump so as not to slide down. The leaves are very thick on the ground and act as ice would act under foot.


























We walked back into camp from the left along the lake and I saw something that turns my stomach.













 Junk!  Great Scott;  Junk!


































I found the secret spot where campers and fishermen toss away their garbage. I knew that when I saw the first Forest Service camp area built on this lake that litter would follow. There never was a can or bottle along these waters. I just knew that when a camp spot is formerly installed, the lazy campers, hikers and fishermen would start to leave litter. And they now use these accessable Forest Service camp spots and the lazy bums are too stupid, ignorent and uncaring to simply take their junk on back to their slovenly lairs; I mean houses with them when the leave. This disgusts me! Is there no spot anywhere that ddoes not contain the garbage of mankind!? Propane cylinders, beer cans and bottles. How appropoe! Interesting how the ignorants throw their garbage behind a boulder. I guess they don't want to look at it themselves. Out of shight out of mind. Amazing ignorant slobs. Brains full of possum crap. Don't laugh. It's a direct reflection on parenting; or lack thereof. It is what it is I guess.  It isn't pretty;  is it?













 It is almost 5PM and the soft light of late afternoon has passed.  A chill is in the air and the breeze has picked up a bit.  Tonight should prove to be a sweet time.  Douglas takes a dip in the lake before dark while I gather fire wood.













There is nothing like a fire and hot coffee on a chilly night. Douglas is walking the perimiter of the camp and making a lot of crunchy leaf noises as he moves along. The fire is a nice touch to the end of a great day. The flickering light creates a somber mood in me.

















Four distinct screech owls are conversing somewhere out there in the dark. Two are across the water and two are on this side of the lake. It is pitch black now. Only my little fire and my old Colman lantern illuminate my page enough for me to see and write. The wind is picking up too. Yes; it would be enjoyable to share this experience with someone but those folks are busy crawling out from under piles of domestic responsibility. I wonder why it is that everyone waits until they are knocking on the undertakers door before they attempt to fullfill their aspirations? There is always something preventing the camping or fishing trip. The kids this or that or the wife has this planned or that weekend promised. I don't know what it is. But, I'm never lonly as long as I have Douglas, Happy or Shade with me. Douglas is the main guy though. He came to me first and I guess that makes him number one priority. I do wish my two friends that I used to camp with back in Pennsylvania could be here. Keith and Terry would thoroughly enjoy this country. I miss those two backpack, camping buddies very much.

















This is so great! Fire, coffee, writing, photography, great camp and my best friend Douglas, who is lying beside me here under the awning of the tent.

















He is the sweetest friend! I can always count on him and he on me.













 I'll tell you; I got my OZ tent over here, and my canoe is over there, the kitchen is down there and I'm, under my awning right here. What a deal! I have everything I need right here on this little spot of earth. I think I'm ready to be totally ascimilated into the wilderness; into nature itself. I think I shall become invisable. OK; enough is enough. We'll continue in the morning. "Douglas! Come inside." I'm not used to all this space in here. It's like Vahalla.
Thee wind has really increased velocity. I can hear the water splashing against the shoreline and the wind blowing through the trees. Weather predictions; useless. No accountability to it. We'll see what the morrow brings. "Douglas; get back in here. Good boy."





 Morning arrives and we take a stroll around the camp one more time.  The weather looks less than desirable, but the lake looks like it shouldn't be too much of a problem to navigate unless the wind picks up.



























  You may be wondering what the "challenging" part of this blog entry is all about. It follows shortly.. The morning brought with it an overcast sky and high wind. The water was near white cap proportions and occasionally white caps would appear only to be flattened by wind shear; the blowing of the wind across the water in high velocity gusts. The wind appeared more of a gusting wind and not the steady onslaught that drives paddlers crazy. Paddling against a steady high velocity wind is an effort in futility. Those winds can prove dangerous and best be avoided. I started to take the camp apart. The tent was dismantled, kitchen things placed into their pack and all the assorted items rounded up and put away where I'm sure I will never find them again. I picked the canoe up and walked down to the lake with it, my lower back complaining all the way. It was set upon the water gently and the bow and stern lines were tied off so the boat would stay in position while I carefully loaded the cargo back onboard. I checked the camp area to assure I left nothing of my presence, unlike those who came before me. "Oh boy Douglas. This is going to be an interesting morning." If the wind would continue acting as it was now; I could keep close to the right shoreline and remain in less turbulent water. Things seemed calm there. I loosened the lines and stepped into the boat. A nearby tree offered a handle for my hand to hold everything in place until Douglas could bring it upon himself to voluntarily squeeze back into his place on the point of the canoe. He is such a good boy. He stepped in and settled down low, laying on the front of the OZ tent bundle. I pushed away from the tree and the bank and we were off.




We moved slowly down along the shoreline where the water was smooth. The canoe was quite manageable under the current wind conditions. Fifteen minutes into the run and quite a way upstream a furious gust of wind arose and hammered into the front of the canoe. It instantly drove us toward the shoreline. I extended the paddle as far out into the water as I could reach on the right side and frantically paddled in an effort to turn the canoe left and into the face of the wind. The gust subsided and the canoe became manageable once more. Wind gusts were arriving more frequently now and they were of varying strengths. As the water channel bent around to the left we became totally vulnerable to the winds punishment.









The canoe now was on a long open stretch of water resembling a bay with no barrier to slow the winds velocity. When the wind would diminish; I was paddling with a fast cadence, often switching from left side to right side with the paddle. Fancy and cute paddle strokes would not work in this mess. It was lean forward, plant the paddle in the water and pull hard in conjunction with paddle pries off the gun wale’s to keep the boat travelling in an acceptable direction. We were making good time when I saw what I didn’t want to see. Far out in front of us the dark water had a light gray color on the surface and the gray was moving rapidly toward us. Wind shear! I have never experienced this phenomenon before while in a canoe. The wind was blowing so hard over the water that it tended to smooth the peaks and valleys of the washboard surface to a smooth texture. In short; the waves of surface water were blown smooth. The gray shade of water extended from shore to shore and if we stayed where we were, the force of it would surely push us against the rocks of the embankment. I turned the boat sharply left and out into the main lake as far as I could and turned the nose directly into the oncoming wind shear. I only hoped it would not last very long. It would be impossible to hold it on course or hold it stationary for long. I’ll never forget the vision in front of us just before the shear hit the boat. The water all around us was displaying choppy waves and of a normal color and texture. What was approaching was a variation in color from gray to white and it resembled an enormous dirty bed sheet being pulled rapidly toward us. That was the analogy of the moment. As it came closer the roar of it could be heard. Actually the wind blowing through the trees on both sides added to the sound because the shear was not a thin layer of blown wind at water level but, the entire canyon, bottom to top, was filled with the huge gust. The trees were bending as far as I could see up the cliffs on both sides. One second they were strait and the next they were bent precariously in the direction the massive wind gust was blowing. The noise of the coming wind was ominous. I was as ready as I could be. I sat leaned forward a bit with the paddle extended and laying on the pack in front of me, the blade pointing toward the bow. And then it hit the boat. We were instantly thrust rearward. The boat remained pointed strait into the wind for approximately ten seconds. Then in an instant the force pushed the front of the canoe on the right side and the frail craft instantly spun around sideways and was thrust down the lake. The paddle was put into the water on the down side and a series of very powerful pries were performed to turn the boat back up stream. (Pries are using the gun wale as a fulcrum for the paddle shaft to be pulled against in order to thrust the blade of the paddle against the water to achieve a more instant direction change.) Every pry I accomplished would attempt to turn the boat but the wind would eradicate any corrective action I took. I increased the pry stroke cadence and added five sweep strokes at the end of the pries. It was no use fighting this. I did not have the power in my arms to succeed. At the moment of my concession to the invisible force; it stopped. The shear was replaced by rapid short gusts of wind. I pried the boat back around and put it on course. We were blown at least a hundred yards down the lake. The canoe nosed around and I paddled for all I was worth to make up lost distance before another blow came through. The paddle was planted and the boat pulled to it; four pulls on the left side and four on the right side with pries in-between. My arms were not tired but my lower back was starting to remember an accident I had when eighteen years old. We were making good time. We headed back to the shore line and traveled the edge of it. Slick Rock Creek cove was just around the next corner. As we approached that corner; the wind once again arose. I was paddling but going nowhere. We were holding a stationary pattern. We were running in place. It is so hard to make up lost ground; in this case water. I would keep paddling until I could not anymore. I felt good. The pressure of the wind force varied from forceful to gentle. I took advantage of the gentle moments paddling with every muscle I had. I would gain fifteen feet and the forceful wind would stop us dead and the paddling continued to hold position. As the wind would slow; the canoe would slowly move ahead. It was amazing to watch this folly. Then, in an instant, we were swept to the left and toward the center of the lake. The current was moving us. We were directly in front of the Slick Rock Creek cove and the currents were moving strangely. It was as if they were moving out of the cove toward us carrying the boat along with them. Pries were applied with sweep strokes to pull the front of the boat back on course.





 Then the wind struck yet again and we paddled in place once more but were pushed backward. The front of the canoe would go left and I would correct it. Then, it would be blown to the right and another correction would be needed. All the while there is no force from the paddle to gain forward movement. All the energy is expended to keep the boat under control. Should I just paddle into Slick Rock Creek cove and sit this out? We have enough food for another day. The shelter was on board and the best to be had. But, what if tomorrow were the same or worse? We would continue on. Just another half to three quarter’s of a mile and we’re home. Once past the cove of Slick Rock; the right side embankment acted as a blocker to the wind. The water was quiet thirty feet out from the bank. Any further out and it was the usual turbulence. Douglas finally stood up in the bow and the boat wobbled as he stretched his legs. “Sit boy! Sit! Please, sit boy”. That’s all I needed; Douglas to fall overboard and me making the attempt to get him back in the boat with this mess going on. We were coming up on the last bend before we were home free when I could see the gray color on the water again. No, not another one! I paddled over to the shore and grabbed a tree limb that was hanging over the water. The shear blasted past us. We were protected by the curvature of the embankment that formed the bend in the lake. I thought to myself, “You won’t get me this time.” The gray water whisked on past and I paddled with everything I had across the lake on an angle that would put us at the tiny boat dock at Calderwood Camp Ground. The wind played evil tricks on us as we pushed across that last piece of water. I was getting tired. I am paddling using strong strokes and it seems the boat is not making way as it should. Then it hit me. A release from Cheoah Dam is occurring and we are actually going against that current. Actually the current was pushing against the right side of the boat because we were pointed across stream and down toward it. I could only paddle on the left side of the canoe. And the closer to the dam we got; the harder I paddled. I couldn’t believe this. I couldn’t go up against that current combined with the wind. The current pushed against the side of the boat and turned us. I could not correct the course. All this way; the entire struggle; only to end up being washed against the bank. Luck prevailed, however. The canoe was washed into a quiet spot near the bank. My sweeping paddle strokes and pries became effective and I moved the canoe slowly up the side of the bank to a grass covered area and touched the nose on ground. “Douglas, Out!” I finally stepped into the very shallow water and pulled the boat to the edge of the grass and tied it off. I sat on a log and looked down the lake from where we had just come. A long way. A very long paddle indeed.





Did we bring all that stuff?





This looks better





 “Come on boy. Let’s load all this stuff in the truck.”




I did manage to photograph a sinister looking camp that wasn't there the day before.   There are some strange people out in the hills.





Thats it for this blog entry.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did living through it. 




Incidently;  this blog may have a slightly different address as I had to import all the data from the old blog into a new one.  I believe the original blog is still there but all the data has been copied to this new blog.  Thanks for your interest and I hope you keep watching my activities.  Until next time;  be kind to a dog.