Friday, July 2, 2010


click on photos to enlarge
 Citico Creek has been a destination I have wanted to visit in a long while and today would be a good time to try to find it.  It's the holiday and every boat in East Tennessee will be on the lakes churning them to a froth.  They will not, however, be able to squeeze up the narrow confines of Citico Creek, if it's what I expect it to be.  I had heard of Citico Creek before but never put any effort forth to find it.  I'm sorry I didn't focus on it previous to this date.  The Gheenoe is in the shop getting a small, splintered hole repaired.  That leaves me with the canoe only.  But, I needed to be off the big water and across the lake before the big boats showed up so, I set off early to find where Citico Creek empties into Tellico Lake.

I asked a couple guys at a boat ramp about the creek and their directions were sadly lacking.  It sometimes amazes me at the lack of ability for some folks to articulate and idea accurately.  Oh well.  I put the canoe in the water a half mile above the boat ramp and paddled toward the biggest notch in the mountain on the far side of the lake.
The notch I headed for is in the above picture.  If there was a creek of any size;  that notch should be where it flowed.  I had to use care crossing this part of the lake because stumps littered the lake bottom and the water was very shallow.  The center of the lake only had ten inches of water depth.   There were many stumps just under the surface that could upset the canoe if it rode up on top of them.  
 I would have to paddle around an island that lay dead ahead and it would be a straight shot to the notch.
As I approached the far side of the lake under the big notch, I tried to find a cove entrance.  The blow downs and dead falls were so many I couldn't discern the location of the creek entrance.  I had to paddle around the fallen debris and navigate close to shore at times, carefully dodging the underwater stumps.    I paddled over to that little island you see in the shot below and went around behind it.
The mouth of Citico was there.  It lay just around the corner of that little point of land with the cattails on it.
It is very deceiving territory out here.  That is the mouth of Citico Creek above.  Can you imagine trying to find that at night?  The creek was a welcome change to the big lake.  I instantly relaxed the paddle cadence and simply cruised along admiring the scenery.
My paddle cadence changed to "paddle as necessary. "  I took it very slow and easy.  This water way has an interesting aura about it.  The environment is filled with dead falls, tall grasses and slow moving water.  The water is cold which is a contrast to the main lake which is about 86 degrees.  Everything was quiet and calm.  The surroundings reminded me of a great swamp.
The trail was narrow in some places with many tiny channels that branched off, mostly to the right.  The water depth constantly changed from very shallow to deep.  The color green is the predominent color.  And, it is the richest green imaginable.  This is fine canoe water.
I paddled into one of the tiny offshoot tributaries and it took me back to the main lake.  I instantly turned and retraced my path back to Citico Creek. 
I don't think it possible to become lost back here unless one gets caught on the water at night.  But, it makes me think about Okefenokee Swamp.  I was lost in there back in 1974.  That's a blog entry for another time.
This Esquif Champlain is very well suited for paddling this narrow waterway.  It turns super fast around stumps and obsticles protruding from the water.  Below would be a great spot to throw up a tent.  I'll certainly remember it's location.
I decided to take off to the the right on another little tributary just to change the pace.   The canoe squeezed through a space not much wider that it and we entered a large pool.  The area did have an exit, although very tight, but I decided to sit on a stump and jot a few words in my journal.
This little pool was great.  I would allow the canoe to float and simply wrap the line around the stump I was sitting on.  It wouldn't go anywhere.
Two humming birds just landed on a stick in front of me and my big camera is on the canoe.  A valuable lesson was learned.  Gotta be ready at all times.  Funny thing;  there's not a flower bloom in sight.  Why are hummers back here?
I noticed a few great places to camp.  The river banks are mud with no stone present.  That makes a soft landing for a canoe.
The water does get shallow though, as can be seen above.  After the brief stop;  I went on up the creek (with a paddle.)
I noticed a fallen tree up ahead that had the bark freshly chewed off it.  I went over to check it out.  It looked like beaver sign to me.  Upon closer inspection, one can see where the teeth marks have scarred the wood.

This whole area is infested heavily with Chiggers.  Those rascals are probably watching me from the bank just waiting for me to set foot upon their turf.  "Not today you devils!"
The water has progressively becoming more shallow as I move along.  I bet I will have to stop the float soon, or portage around something.  I don't want to do that today.  I know where the creek is and that is good enough for this morning.
It sure is green out here.  It is so bright, rich green that it dominates one's thoughts.  Unusually green!   The canoe is just about to touch bottom.  We're about done for on the float up the stream.
I think I can get at least to those deadfalls ahead and I'll turn around for a peaceful paddle back toward the lake.  I should be able to see around the corner ahead and maybe get a view of what's there.
This is it.  There's no sense in scraping the bottom of the canoe on the gravelly bottom and scratching the gel coat.   I'll turn her around here.
I miss my dogs now.  The stops I make are not boring but, they are lacking the enjoyment of watching the dogs having a good time.  I will return with a dog or two again.
I'll cut through that little waterway ahead.   It simply bends around back of that green island and back onto the main creek.  It will be simply a little diversion from the bigger water of the creek.
It won't be long before I get dumped into Tellico Lake.  I can already hear some large boat ripping along at break neck speed and the distant sound of a country tune blasting in the distance from a boom box.  The noise box is probably on that boat dock I passed prior launching the canoe.  I noticed an absolutely beautiful reed bed with cattails and a tiny, shallow little water course that wound through the tall grass.  I was compelled to nose the canoe into that little water trickle and park it for awhile.  
 I sat there surrounded by green.  There was green on all sides of the boat. 
 What an interlude!  I looked and I saw.
 Just a bit of color to keep it interesting..
Well;  it's time to race for my life across the lake.   I'll wait until I can't hear any boat engines and pour the coals to the paddle.  And away I go!
 I was in the process of pulling the canoe up onto the grassy bank when a ski boat blasted by at about fifty miles per hour.  The oncoming wake was awesome.  If I continue to mess about on these lakes on weekends;  I certainly will get swamped in this canoe.  It's just a matter of time because  drivers of large, fast boats are absolutely negligent when it comes to being polite.  It doesn't seem to matter if your in a canoe or any smaller fishing boat.  They act ignorant, rude and are in total disregard to a smaller boats safety and rights to be on the lake with them.  Bigger rules in their eyes.  I guess it's true.  They just don't care.  Anyway;  below is a nice wake from a ski boat that would have pushed the canoe against the bank hard had I still been in the water.