Friday, February 12, 2010

A QUIET TIME

CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
It has been a few weeks since I put anything on this blog and that has been because the weather has not been cooperating.  Actually it still isn't.  I was going crazy waiting for a nice day to just get away.  Today isn't the best day for going hiking but I couldn't wait any longer.  I wanted to be at Indian Boundary Lake at sunup so that I could take advantage of possibly photographing an otter swimming.  I didn't get the early start I intended on and that is probably a good thing as the roads to the mountain lake were frozen and covered with ice; black and otherwise.   As the truck climbed up the Cherohalla Parkway through the forest; the snow along side the road became deeper and deeper.  Many trees were along the roadside sawed into pieces indicating that they were blown or fell across the roadway during the previous high winds and heavy snows.  The Cherohala climbs to over a mile high and the weather is unpredictable at that altitude.
It is mighty big country up here as can be seen from the above photo.  I pulled into the parking lot at Indian Boundary Lake and immediately noticed I was the only person there.  The sound of quiet was deafening. 
I decided to walk clear around the lake.  I believe the entire lake is only 98 acres so it shouldn't take that long.  I was in no hurry anyway.  I slung the camera around my neck and set off at a brisk pace.  As the trees became larger, I slowed down in case there might be some photo opportunities with birds.  The birds were scarce on this cold day.  Animals won't move around in frigid weather unless it is out of necessity.  Nature has hard wired them all to conserve precious energy.  It was difficult to even turn up a bird.  But, one did turn up.



I could hear the lackadaisical thumping of a woodpecker pounding against a tree not far away.  I waited and waited and eventually he landed far up on a tree in front of me.  I had a difficult time getting a clear picture of him because of all the limbs and sticks between us.  I did the best I could with the situation.





He was really working that tree over.  What a beautiful bird!  The pileated woodpecker is a wonderful bird to watch.  They are impressive with their ruby red head and glossy feathers.  The pileated are feared to be vanishing up in the Pennsylvania forests.  As a boy, I can remember seeing many of them.  But, later in years when visiting the big woods of Central Pennsylvania it was rare to see one.  Downys and Flickers with the occasional Red Headed Woodpecker were the birds that are prevalent according to my memory.  But, here in Tennessee the pileated woodpecker appears safe.  I'm certain it is because of the plentiful  habitat they and other species of birds enjoy.  We are most fortunate to have them to watch.

This old termite eaten stump is riddled by hungry woodpeckers.  As the stumps and dead falls rot;   the termites move in followed by the woodpeckers.  It's the natural way of life in the forest.  Everything in the forest makeup is dependent on something else.  And when that chain of events is broken; something suffers.  Usually the intervention of humans creates negative influences in the natural course of things.  Ok;  I won't get started.



The trail that follows the lakeside is an easy trail to walk.  It is designed for folks of all ages and ability.  Usually trails of this type disgust me as they invite multitudes of tourists to invade the delicate forested areas surrounding the lake.  But then, this place is designed to be visited.  The campgrounds are some of the best I have ever seen.  The summer months will bustle with visitors and the otters will hide during the day and come out during the quiet of the night.  And when Winter arrives all will be held in the cold, tight clutches of that season.  But, today this is all mine.  My footsteps are the only ones I hear.

The pathway travels close to the water's edge and crosses small streams with rustic foot bridges. 












We walk past wetlands that were created by the raising and lowering of the water level of the lake.  Trees, large and small, have fallen into these wet areas and are left to decay creating life giving nutrients to countless critters and insects.








The views are grand from practically any point on the trail.  The lake with the mountain backdrop will make anyone stop in their tracks and stare in awe at this jewel on the mountain.









As we walk along another foot bridge must be negotiated.  I say negotiated because the wood is covered with solid ice.   Don't ask me how I found that out.









Once past the last footbridge, the trail directs me through a canopy of green created by dense growths of rhododendron.  A charming bench beckons one to sit and relax.  Maybe in the Summer months but, not today.  The temperature is cold and I am motivated to keep moving along.







I am very glad I decided to come up here.  The air is crisp and fresh and the scenery is perfect in all directions.  Not one old can or bit of paper lays anywhere.   (Yet)  The trail stays close to the lake.  I am continually searching over the water's surface for an otter.  It's not looking good today for otters.

That's ok.  I can be content just looking at the views.  They are all spectacular.










I was beginning to think I was alone out here











This is a familier spot.  I was covered up with dragon flies here last Summer.  I remember driving the canoe into the grass to park it.  The dragon flies were everywhere. 









Splendid scenery!
Ok;  I gotta get a picture of a wild critter here.  This is the best I could come up with.  He's a beauty!
He's a common little bird but, no less important than the mightiest eagle
A handsome fellow.
The trail rounds the lake and comes back on the far side of the water.  The walk is nearly over.  This lake is made for a canoe.  How I miss being in that boat!
I complain alot about the intervention of people into the wilderness.  It's not that I don't like people in the forest;  it's the fact that folks from the city seem not to be educated in wilderness eticate.  I doubt they know the difference between a black rat snake and a copperhead.  And, many leave their trails littered with the same type paper cups, food wrappers and aluminum beverage cans that they litter their own city streets with.  It isn't always the case but, it seems to be the usual result of visitors who come to the wilds from the cities.  Oh well;  as a wise (maybe he wasn't) old man said once; (it is what it is.)
Another great day has come to an end.  The snow is really falling up here and I am concerned about this old 1991 two wheel drive Ford truck's abilities on ice covered roads.  I hope you enjoy the photographs and until next time;   help a dog.  Please don't turn your back on a lost dog.  The nights are frigid for them.  They feel the pain of cold just as we do.