Monday, August 30, 2010

CALDERWOOD FIRE

click on pictures to enlarge
I got word that the North mountainside of the lake was burning.  I believe they said it was a lightning strike that caused it.  I'm not sure how they can know that.  I rushed up Route 129 to have a look. The heavy smoke was rising from the side of the mountain that 129 (The Dragon) runs along.  No doubt the pine pitch was causing the dense smoke.  Officials decided to let it burn up hill until it ran into the asphalt of the highway and hoped the fire would burn itself out.  However, it seems they didn't calculate that the wind is fickle on Calderwood and a change in direction blew the fire across instead of up the mountain.  Very intelligent  planning there.  My activities occur on the opposite side of the lake and far up stream of the dam.  However, it is a shame to see any damage to this beautiful wilderness.  Below is a secondary fire just below the dam.  I don't know what that is all about.
If the movie uploads correctly, you should get an idea of the intense smoke that is rising.  Note that the fire is blowing uphill.  That has since changed and is now blowing toward the direction from which I shot this photo. 
video
I guess everyone in the world heard about the rock slide on the famous Dragon Road, (Route 129).  I thought I'd throw a couple pictures of the fix the state came up with.  From what I can see it still isn't very stable.  If you look closely you can see where the rock is gathering high up toward the top of the cliff and has created an impending danger of another slide.  Hopefully the screening that has been placed on the cliff face will hold back any nuisance boulders but, I doubt it will.

Look right in the center of the cliff (picture below) at the rock getting ready to slide down.  Great fix!


Yep;  driving in the mountains of Tennessee is always an adventure.  Vultures constantly circle over Route 129 hoping for easy pickings from motorcycle misshaps and what the vultures don't get the land slides will.  Interesting place.  Gotta be on top your game.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CITICO CREEK PADDLE 8/26/10

click on photos to enlarge
There's the little hole just large enough for a canoe to pass through.
I paddled clear across Tellico Lake and took the wrong waterway into the mountain.  Citico Creek runs parallel to the channel I was on.  I paddled through the narrow space in the river bank and onto Citico Creek.
This little guy poked his head up to see what the strange apparition was doing in his territory.  He is a Eastern Soft-shell Tortuous and very nervous.




The critter wouldn't allow me to come close to him.  Water turtles are the most apprehensive creatures in nature, next to Wood Ducks.














He was a handsome fellow and I enjoyed playing hide and seek games with him














The lake crossing was uneventful.  There are many underwater stumps in this area and they would upset a canoe easily if struck in just the right way.
This is what I mean by underwater stump:
I would think that the stumps would be removed before flooding the land but, what do I know.  This would be a great place to water ski, if you get my drift.
All I had to do was look for the big notch in the mountain and that would be where the creek lies.  I found it much quicker this trip than I did on the maiden voyage last month.  That notch is the one on the right side of the below photo.  Citico Creek lays there.
The water was smooth as glass when I put the canoe in the water.  The wind has picked up just a bit but is causing absolutely no problems.  This is a nice paddle across the lake.  Love it.
The shore line becomes confusing in this area as to just where the creek is due to the fact that the notch in the mountain is no longer visible due to my closeness to land.
The below photo illustrates how I stabilized the boat while fooling with the turtle in the first few pictures on this entry.
Well, it worked.  Boat never moved an inch during the turtle viewing.
 I can see the familiar area surrounding the creek mouth from here and I'll ease on over that way.
OK;  wrong channel.  I'll go on back to see whats there.  Citico has to be just behind that shore line in front of me.
There appears to be an abnormality in the shore line clear in the right rear corner of this little channel pocket.  
I'll shoot right on through and Citico Creek will be on the other side of that hole.
I took a shot while passing through the little cut.
The shot below shows how really tiny that slot was to find.   It would be hard to find it from the Citico Creek side of things.  The hole is bigger coming in from the other side of all that foliage.  Yep;  the little cave like dark area right in the center of the photo
There is a clear spot on the bank ahead and I think I'll pull over there and observe the area a bit and catch a little rest.
 As I look at the Champlain I notice the newness of her has diminished.  A good washing is in order.  That canoe has taken me on some grand rides and will do so many more times in the future.
It's a great boat!  She is a fast one too;  and quiet.  The quiet is more important to me than the fast part.
At first glance everything is green and void of critters.   Remember what I have always said;  don't only look but, take time to see.  It's the seeing part most folks miss out on.
Easy to miss if you just look.  But, when you really see what you're looking at;  everything becomes vivid.
Gorgeous;  and with butterflies also.
All of a sudden that plain old green landscape is transformed into a kaleidoscope of color.  Just need to know where to look.
Very easy to miss if ya don't see.  Looking's not enough.
A twig fell into the water across the stream.  Some leaves float down and gently touch the water.  But, whats this?  Looks like a huge butterfly or cicada has fallen into the water.  It is flailing about creating quite a stir.
I can't make it out even with the telephoto lens.  The wings appear transparent.
Oh no!  It's a bird.  A baby bird.  My heart jumped.  I scrambled for the canoe.  I wasted time watching and trying to figure out what huge insect was in the water.  I wasted too much time!
I pushed the canoe off shore and paddled hard.  The little bird was barely moving.  Harder and harder I pushed.
When I got to the spot I couldn't see him.  He was gone.  I was and am very saddened by this.  Things happen in the wilderness that are not pleasant and death is not always swift.  I guess the thing with me is that I watched that little guy struggle for all he was worth to save himself and I watched without acting.  When I figured it all out it was too late.  Had I saved him I would have immediately left the lake and taken him to a song bird rescue person located in Oakridge.  They rehabilitate song birds.  There is a raptor lady also.  I'll never forget the little bird's struggle.  Life ends for so many before they have a chance to enjoy their already short life spans.
It seems as though nature is trying to make me feel better after watching the ordeal with the little bird.  She is throwing colors at me.  She is attempting to cover the foul deed she just perpetrated on the bird in the water.  Nature is an unforgiving mother.
I paddled back into a dark, tight cove along this stream and I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was seeing correctly.  I stared at this scene for more than a moment trying to understand where what started and ended and where.  Stunning!
It's a game of reflections that maw nature likes to play on me from time to time.
I guess I better start paddling back to the main lake.  It's getting late and the dogs would like to enjoy just one more time at the lake.
I saw some wood ducks swim back into an isolated little turn off from the main stream.  I pulled the paddle hard and set it in the boat letting the glide carry the canoe slowly past the entrance to the tiny bay where the ducks should be.  As soon as the very tip of the nose of the canoe moved into the opening;  the ducks launched in unison and were gone.  They are tuff to photograph!
We'll break out onto the main lake any second now.  I'm sorry to see this little paddle ride stop.
I can tell I'm close as the water has the washboard affect from the wind on the lake.
And then it's just a matter of time to paddle across the lake to the truck.  All I have to worry about is big boats careening down the lake.
It's been a great little ride today.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Till next time;  please, please do a kind thing for a dog.  Please.  Stay safe....................