Wednesday, July 21, 2010


click on photos to enlarge
It sure felt good to feel the resistance on the paddle as I pulled against the water.  As usual, I had Calderwood Lake to myself.  I love weekdays.  My only regret is I had to leave Shade and Happy at home.  Douglas always gets the first choice when it comes to camping.  The air was cool next to the water.  I could feel the temperature difference on the hand that grasped the shaft of the paddle.  This trip was a last minute decision, so no great plans to do or accomplish anything were made.
I grabbed the backpack tent because it is quick and easy to pack and carry to and from the boat.  I heard there was a chance of rain tonight but I probably won't be that lucky.  I love storms!
We paddled into Slick Rock Creek and set up camp.  The shoreline back here is so cluttered with rocks and boulders that it is hard to beach the canoe.  I can't imagine the Boundary Waters of Minnesota being any worse.
Setting up camp for me takes about ten minutes.  I've done it countless times over a lot of years.  It actually requires more time and effort unloading the canoe.  Douglas immediately ran to the rushing waters of Slick Rock Creek while I labored with all the stuff and secured the canoe.
The tent erects very quickly although not near as fast as the OZ tent.  The canoe was brought out of the water and supported upside down on two logs for safety.
I had just recently applied a new coat of gel to the bottom on this canoe and already, from this trip, she has accumulated new scars.  Oh well;  it's made to be used and use it I will.
I had better go check on Douglas.   I know he's upstream having the time of his life.  He really enjoys these cold mountain streams with current in them.  Douglas loves to fish.  At least he demonstrates his prowess at minnow fishing.
Douglas stares at the prey beneath the surface.  Look closely on top Douglass head.  A butterfly has found a precious flower from which to gather nectar.  However, this flower, sweet as it is, has no nectar. 
Douglas charges through the water lunging at the minnows and the butterfly stays put.    I will attempt to upload a movie of Douglas fishing in this stream at the end of this blog entry.  He is intelligent, persistent and is pure innocence.
Tonight we will both lounge in this pool together.  Right now;  he stops for a rest in the cool water of  the stream.  This is dog heaven to him.
He is so funny and interesting to watch.  His rests are short lived and it's back to chasing trout.
If you look hard you can see what Douglas is so excited about.
I had ordered and received a water treatment tool and I just filled up my nalgene, quart bottle.  I have used this brand purifier years ago but, have since misplaced my old one.  I bought the same brand, after careful investigation, that I used when I backpacked back in the eighties.  It is called a "First Need."
This particular unit will pump two quarts of delicious water in one minute.  It's amazing.  No more paying for gallons of water to take camping.  I highly recommend this filter to anyone serious about camping, hiking and backpacking.  I thought I had something great back in the old days.  This thing is simply light years ahead of that old technology.
I am so lazy this afternoon.  I got home from work and mowed the lawn before it rained last night.  That, after standing and walking ten to eleven hours a day on the showroom gets to me after a week.  The three days off per work period is generous and much appreciated.  The heat has a lot to do with my lackadaisical attitude also.  It is shady back here in Slick Rock Creek but, there isn't a breeze blowing and the humidity is high.  I think I'll just sit here and arrange and care for some gear.
You know I'm lazy when I take my own picture.
But, I'm never too lazy to get up and love on Douglas.  He's a sweet pardner. 
Strange thought----Wonder how many people go two or three days without talking to another person?  My longest period of being alone has been for thirty five days when on a motorcycle tour around the United States back in the seventies.   Never said a word to anyone the whole ride.  Of course, I didn't stop long enough to meet anyone to talk to either.  Personally;  I savor the experience.  I don't have to keep a conversation going by adding worthless chatter.  Of course, a good friend with common likes is welcome company.  It's just that I don't meet folks who appreciate it "out here" like I do.   To most, camping is all about the tent or the gadgets and the real purpose is lost in the hi tech equipment.  Good equipment is necessary but I view it as a means to reach an end which is the immersion of myself into the environment and not have things break due to poor quality.  A casual evening in a tent in the yard or along the road at the lake is wonderful if time is limited.  But out here;  the equipment is a fundamental necessity to safely enjoy and extend the experience of the wilderness adventure.  I guess I never really knew anyone so intense about it all.  Well;  there was one friend who loved to hike, fly fish and bicycle with me.  We really back packed hard back in the mid eighties but, he moved to Colorado.  I've been alone in  many outdoor endeavors ever since.
I guess I just can't compromise on my beliefs.  The only friends who see it my way all the time, every time are my constant companions Douglas, Shade and Happy.  They are the best friends I could ever find.
What a joy to shed this artificial skin and slip gently into the cool water.  Such joy!  A natural cleansing of the soul, not to mention the body as well.   The sun falling in the sky and the temperatures are just perfect.  I think I'll sit here on this rock in the middle of the pool and just watch it.  Douglas thinks I'm nuts.
The cool water gently massages tired muscles and washes away the sticky feeling accumulated throughout the day.  I glance down at my watch and notice a tick slowly moving up my arm.  Do they never let up?  Just a bit longer.  Just a bit.
It is getting dark.  I am done with clothing this day.  I reluctantly pull myself to the waters edge and slowly walk back to the tent.  I sat down in the chair without drying off.   The temperature is somewhere between warm and cool.  What a joy not to care about anything.  There's no one here but me and;  of course Douglas.  I am thinking of my plans to paddle across Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia in September.  I've about got it figured out too.  But even more;  I'm putting together a motorcycle trip of a lifetime.  One last fling on two wheels.   That one is still in the thinking stage.  A ride across the entire United States on dirt roads.  I have done it countless times on asphalt over my lifetime.  Never on dirt and gravel roads.  I think it can be done.  We'll see what happens.
It's 8:30 PM and darkness is near upon us.  The soft, late afternoon light is almost gone, soon to be replaced by the moons glow.   I have time for one more soak in the stream.  I can't let it go.  Douglas is already in the drink.  His water world is at my eye level.  He abruptly stops and lunges;  his head submerges.  I plunge my head under water and catch a glimpse of silver sheen as the fish scurries away in haste.  Probably a trout but, had the attributes of a bass.   I think trout.  I believe Douglas is getting closer to perfecting his fishing skills. 
It feels so wonderful to sit on this big rock in the middle of a dark, dusky, cool pool of fresh mountain water totally naked.  Naked, by the way, is normal.  I have absolutely no intention of dawning clothing until morning.  This is living!  This is, to me, exhilaration.  Gee Whiz;  wonder what my buddies from work are doing in the bars in Knoxville tonight?  I've been on some camps here in Tennessee but, this particular camp out with Douglas is the finest.
My clothes lay on the ground and appear to be just so many rags tossed about to lie here and there.  I am so comfortable in my nakedness that I am hesitant and reluctant to put them back on at all, and I won't until morning.  Damn that canoe!  See what it does to a man?
A soft fog is settling upon the water and I guess I better turn in.  It's been a grand evening spent in a glorious place with a special friend.

 The night passes quickly and the early sun awakens me.  I move slowly,  as I stayed awake late into the night trying to avoid ending the experience.  It's time to break camp and move on.  I see some wilderness friends have been up well ahead of me.
Well hidden;  these two Monarchs appear to be demonstrating affection toward each other.
The butterflies would normally have gone unseen.  One has to not only look but, one also needs to see.
There is always something to observe out here. 
They  are beautiful.  Just a couple more shots and we have to get going.
The sun was reflecting beautifully off the greens along the shoreline.  I wish we could stay longer.  However;  one 80 pound Golden Retriever in a cramped canoe is not what you want in the middle of a deep lake for extended periods of time.  He gets figity. 
The water was unreal in its smoothness.
A creature was crossing the lake up ahead.  I paddled slowly.  I thought it might be an otter.  Just when I brought out the camera;  Douglas decides to turn around and face the other side of the canoe.  Whoa!  "Douglas;  sit boy, sit!"  With camera in one hand and the canoe paddle in the other;  I tried to decide weather to sit the camera down and paddle or, put the camera away in the water proof box and just ignore the rodent in the water.  I was curious.  The little swimmer heard me raise my voice to Douglas and changed direction away from our previous intersecting course.  There wasn't much light and I shot at 1/1000th of a second.  The ISO was very high.  But, it would capture an image at least.  The picture will be grainy.  The furry critter was a beaver.
"Douglas;  sit down!"
The above shots were the best I could do through the fog and dealing with a Golden intent on practicing an intricate trapeze trick while in the canoe.
But then, just down stream a bit, was yet another beaver skimming along near the shoreline.

I apologize for the sadly lacking quality in the photography.  It's the best I could do under the circumstances.  It did prove out my suspicions about weather there were beavers on the lake.  I know the otters are here but have never seen sign of beaver.  I wonder where they are eating.  There are no chewed trees anywhere.  One thing for certain;  the wildlife viewing time is at sun up.

I hope you've enjoyed this outing.  I'll try to post that movie of Douglas fishing next.  Thanks for being interested in the blog.  See you next time.