Friday, June 25, 2010


 click on photos to enlarge

A foot long fish thrusts himself vertically from the water only to re enter tail first.  Do fish ever swim to just have fun?  I wonder.   It's Thursday and I'm on a piece of water called the Tellico Blue-way.  The Blue-way is a water trail from the Ballplay boat ramp located below Vonore on Route 360 South.  I've been on the path for two hours now and I fear I've taken a wrong turn somewhere.  There are no road signs on the lakes.  I think, rather than become really lost, I'll paddle around and investigate the area I am in.
There are very few birds out today.  Actually I haven't even seen a squirrel.  The temperature here is 93 degrees and they're all in the shade.  I shouldn't be out here in this sun either.
I  simply wanted to taste the flavor of the place.  I suddenly got it in my head that I wanted to be on Calderwood Lake and in it too.  And that's where we would head after I get home.  I really enjoyed the canoe today and hate to put it away but, I can't haul my three dogs around in it.
I almost went swimming here at Tellico just awhile ago.  While messing with my GPS, the wind picked up to a gentle breeze.  It was blowing the canoe sideways.  I didn't care as the boat was positioned toward the center of the channel.
I happened to raise my head up in time to see I was on a collision course with a underwater stump.
Nothing I could do to miss it.  Hopefully I would float over it.
No luck.  The canoe hit it and almost rolled over.  The GPS that was on my knee dissappeared.
I could not see the GPS floating anywhere.  It is waterproof and will float indefinitely but, the case is black and makes the instrument difficult to see floating on the water.  I paddled in ever widening circles and finally came upon it.  Whew!  What luck!  I didn't want to buy another one of those.
An Osprey watches me intently.  He suspects mischief.
Bright sun, hot day and beautiful water can draw ones attention to navigational duties.  Ya just can't be lackadaisical while in a canoe.
I have to put the power to the paddle and get on up the lake.  Calderwood Lake is calling.
A little color added to the experience.
Just time for one more shot of a new friend who was hiding under the canoe's seat.
There's the dock.  I'll pick up some supplies on the way home for the Calderwood trip.
The drive to Calderwood took over two and a half hours.  That's crazy!  There is only one way to the lake since Route 129 is closed due to a rock slide.  It's a long, long way but worth the effort.  Fog was on the lake at 6:30 PM yesterday afternoon.  The ambient temperature is a lot cooler up here on this mountain lake.   As usual,  I have the lake to myself.
I hurriedly loaded the boat at the launch and shoved off.  What lucky dogs!  Where else can dogs ride on a boat every week Summer and Winter.  They were all worked up and looking forward to the landing on shore.  They know whats up.
We would camp at Slick Rock Creek.  Slick Rock is in heavy shade and the air is cool near the lake where the cold spring water flows in from Slick Rock Creek.  I put the tent up where the creek releases it's water into the lake.
One or two problems arose.  First;  I left the OZTent ground cloth with the awning poles and all the stakes in the truck.
Fortunately I carry the good old blue tarp with me wherever I go.  It would serve as a ground cloth.  No tent pegs?  I also carry the ultra light backpacking tent also.  Those stakes would work well.
It's all working out.  However, the flash light is home on the computer table.  I have to learn to slow down.  It's hard to cover all the bases when gathering equipment and handling three dogs at the same time.  Don't need a light anyhow.  The 357 Sig is equipped with night sights.  Actually, this little overnight is for the enjoyment of the dogs.  They have been sitting for days in the heat just waiting to escape to a cool mountain spot.  So, this is their day and night.  Let me tell you;  they made the most of it.
Darkness is coming on and the photography quality will be iffy at best.  The shots from here on will simply be to document the occasion.  It's nice to just take snapshots.  No pressure to be creative.  Well, not very creative.  That gray line in the photo is the fog on the main lake at the end of this cove.
I am soaking wet with sweat and am going to go for a swim when it gets dark.  Can you imagine this?  Can you?  The only sound is tumbling water.  I'm surrounded by my most loyal friends.  Shortly I'll watch the sun set while up to my neck in clean, clear, cool mountain water.  I wonder if the dogs will join me.  I bet they do.
They are so dedicated, so loyal to me.  Where I am-they are.  such great company!   They are amazing.  All of a sudden they come to full alert.
A loud shriek followed by what sounds like someone beating a blanket on the ground.   It has to be a Bob Cat.  Evidently it has made a kill on a large bird and the blanket sounds must be the wings beating on the ground.  The dogs only stare.  Not a whimper.
Goofball Shade will have none of it.  But, Happy and Douglas keep watch in the direction of the shriek.
I can hear sticks snapping and something being dragged through and over brush.  The sounds are going up the mountain side and finally all is quiet.  Shade heard those sounds and focused her attention in that direction.
There's nothing to worry about  I have the best guards on the planet.  They just don't say much.  But, that's ok by me.
The dogs are playing hard.  Running, swimming and doing happy laps over boulders and through water.  They will be beat tonight.  That's why I brought them here.  Their faces reflect happiness.  At home they display normal dog faces.  Out here they come alive.  They have energy and I know they are ecstatic over the experience.
These guys absolutely love the water.  The rocks are slippery and Douglas has difficulty finding purchase.
This is probably the pool I will mess around in after dark.  I can't wait.
Slick Rock is a magic spot.  I know other people come here but for now it is ours. 
The sun is falling fast.  Just a couple more pictures and I better get back to the tent.  No flashlight;  remember?
These water dogs have no fear.  I wonder if it's because of the breed or a high degree of confidence.  Just one slip and over each or both go.  Shade, Black Lab, and Douglas, Golden Retriever, compliment each other.  Shade is a charge ahead, bull in a china closet power dog.  She does everything with power and strength.  Douglas, on the other hand, is all finess and elegance.  His movement in the water is beautiful to watch.  Douglas usually slips quietly into the water while Shade gets in anyway she can, and powerfully.  They are both fantastic swimmers.  Shade swims faster but Douglas can swim further and longer.  They are both wonderful to be with and to watch.
I hope these pictures come out alright.  That little Elph Canon is a good camera but, I'm curious how it does in very low light to near dark.  I have no tripod with me.  The two shots below show lines in the rocks.  I wonder what created them.  Odd.
 I need one more tent at some point.  This OZTent is great with the Gheenoe or truck but, I need a canoe friendly tent.  I will find something that packs small and opens big like the OZTent.  I have found it.  It is called a Spring Bar Tent.  It resembles the OZTent but does not have a frame built in like the OZ.  It packs smaller.  I believe the pack dimensions are 28" long by 18" diameter.  It's $438.00.  Sure not affordable at this time.  But, this wilderness thing is what I do.  It is a passion.  I deserve the best equipment I can afford. That, however, is the key word----Afford!
They are all so tired!
They've been swimming constantly and running happy laps all evening.  Its good for them to be exhausted.  They can lay in this cool place and enjoy being contented dogs.  I'm glad for them.
Every now and again I'll feel a damp, cool nose touch my arm as one of them comes over for a pat on the head.  It's usually Happy.  and so the evening proceeds.  The beautiful shoreline is becoming dim across the water.  I like to fool with the camera in odd situations.  The sun is almost gone.
There is mountain Laural and rhododendrons over there.   What beautiful wall paper!
One more shot.  These should be interesting pictures.  If they aren't;  I have a delete button on the camera and computer.
The air is cool and sounds of water cascading over rocks is the background music.  Somewhere a lone bird twitters away for minutes at a time.  The sky, my ceiling, is clear through the tree tops with wispy white clouds.
I think I'll go get wet in the pool I showed you previously.

Yikes!  The water's cold.  How do dogs do it?
It's time for a fire.  There are a few pieces of dead wood lying about and I did bring fire starter.  I don't need a large fire tonight.  It's been a long day and I can't wait to turn in.
Perfect size fire.  I wish I had brought my tripod for the Elph camera.
Now to relax and just listen to the night sounds
Everyone's beat!  I'm feeling it also.  I'm glad I brought alone some extra clothes.  Amazing I didn't forget them.
Nothing like a hot coffee and honey.  What a nice day it's been.  A great fire and a hot coffee puts an end to the evening experience.  As usual;  Shade sleeps just inside the tent door, Happy beside me and Douglas just outside.  Great pals.  And nothing or no one can approach without these guardians alerting me.  The night is very cool.  It's great!
I awaken just before sunrise and go outside to my chair.  The waterfall lulls me into another half sleep.  I haven't been this relaxed in weeks.  No car or motorcycle engines, loud mufflers, boom boxes, music or useless human chatter.  The early morning reflective quality of the water is wonderful.  Mountain laurel is growing on the opposite side of the stream and is reflected perfectly on the surface.
I didn't notice last night but the flow from Slick Rock Creek creates a healthy slow flow of water to my front.  I would love another dip in this great stream but it is a cold experience.  Besides;  the camp towel is wet now.  Excuses, excuses.
Douglas is fishing.  He sees the movement on the water caused by insects and stares at the surface intently waiting for fish to appear.  He's amazing.  And, the sun isn't up yet.  What a dog!
By the way;  there are ticks up here along the lake.  I picked several off my arms and backs of my hands.  The chigger families probably haven't found their way into this lake it seems.   Thank heavens for that.
Everyone is lounging around while I pack all the camp stuff away.  No help from them.
The sun is almost up now.  I sure hate to take all this down.  It's all part of the experience. 
Even the boat looks ready.  I scraped a boulder getting it pulled on shore.  I'm afraid of what I'll find when I get home
Look what I found at the creek.  People are so dense!  What idiots!  How hard would it be to simply bend down and pick up their stuff?  Some folks should just stay in the city.  And yes;  I picked it up.
The channel leading into Slick Rock Creek is very shallow.  I noticed the water being dangerously low yesterday on the way in.  I know the Gheenoe just barely made it in here.  This is truly canoe country back here.  The boat was loaded heavy and all the dogs were on the front anticipating their departure to land.  The float out of here will be interesting. 
The fog is thick on the main lake.  A kingfisher flies past and mountain laurel blooms float slowly past the camp.  This is rough living.
This lake is spectacular.  I hope it stays that way.
People sometimes ask me why I (go out there alone.)  "Aren't you afraid of what might happen?"
I tell them there's nothing out here to worry about.  The things to worry about are in the towns and cities.  Out here is beauty and tranquility.  I guess a heart attack would be difficult to deal with but, one can't constantly dwell on what might happen.  Life's too short.  And then we moved down the lake to the put in and finalize a wonderful experience.  It wasn't a long trip but, a fantastic one.

And off we go for home