Saturday, August 7, 2010


Shade, Douglas, Happy and I pulled into Slick Rock Creek only to find a tent on our favorite spot.  Early to mid week are the best times to be on this lake.  there were no motorized boats, canoes or kayaks in the area so I believe they are hikers.
We would mosey on down the lake and try to get the second choice spot as these camp sites go.
We were in luck.  No one was about.  We would camp here for the night.  There are no creeks for the kids to play in at this site.  I am sorry about that.  I'll try to boat them into a creek later.
They absolutely love these boat rides.
I had a new off shore anchor system I wanted to try out this trip but found it unnecessary at this camp site.  However, it is necessary at the Slick Rock site.
The boulders lining the shore would cause tragic damage to the hull on the Gheenoe.  All the system requires, is one end of  a giant bungee cord  tied to an anchor.  The other end tied to the boat on a rope cleat on the stern.  I motor to shore jump off and tie the boat off to a tree.  I unload the boat and untie the bow line from the tree and hold on to it.  The bungee pulls the boat out to the anchor.  When I want to leave I pull the line attached to the bow eye and pull the boat back in to shore and get on.  The bungee pulls me back out to the anchor.  Easy and simple.  I wouldn't trust it in heavy current or stormy weather but, I would back in the cove of Slick Rock.
This little dog, Happy, will not ever leave my side for more than a minute;  even on this boat.  She's the most dedicated little girl imaginable.
And, dear Shade.  Ever loving Shade.  Big goof Shade.  I love her.
And last but not least is the main guy;  Douglas.  Ever on watch for danger;  constantly taking depth readings and relaying the information back to me from the bow.  And;  remaining aloof as usual.
So, those are the players.  The story continues.
I pulled the Gheenoe along shore and sort of wedged it between two trees  and placed rubber bumpers between the trees and the boat.  This is one tuff lake to beach a boat.  But, I got it safely tied off.
There is a different tent on the scene this trip.  It is called a Spring Bar Tent.  It is named such because the top of the tent is shaped by spring rods and the tension is held by the two vertical adjustable poles one on each side of the tent.  It's difficult to explain.   The tent is a slick piece of engineering though.  It has the same dimensions as my OZ Tent but, does not have the bulky internal frame built into the tent as the OZ does.  This tent must be staked down prior erection of the sides.  It took me two minutes to set it up.
You can see in the picture below how the vertical pole grabs the spring rods that go through loops in the roof.  Tension applied by the pushing up of the poles raises the tent.
Both the Spring Bar and the OZ tents are magnificent tents of the highest quality.  The Spring Bar, however, is the tent of choice for canoeing.  I would have used the OZ tent this trip with the Gheenoe accept I wanted to do a camp with the Spring Bar to try it out.
The only problem setting up is the existence of those log site enclosures that dictate the usable space for a tent.  They seem to be made for back packer tents.  I really hate them and prefer to be left alone to my own devices as to site selection and tent space.  But, it is what it is.
The zippers and stitched seams are of the highest quality.
It has a large front opening and a huge window in the rear.  It's a very comfortable, secure habitat.
Below is another picture of the brace across the top of the roof.

Below is a side view.
The above shot shows a wrinkled end due to the fact I needed about six more inches of area on the ground to make the tent really taut.
I brought a tarp along to make a canopy for evening enjoyment.  I love to sit in my chair under the awning and watch what's going on down at the lake and in the woods.  I was able to rig it to the Spring Bar.  I ordered two collapsible tarp poles and they came just in time for this camp out.  The tarp awning worked out pretty good I'd say.
I simply placed guy ropes on each pole and pulled them taut.  I had no rope adjusters so I used an old knot I learned to tie in the boy scouts.  Yes Paul;  that's where I learned how to tie it too.  I'll put several pictures of this knot here for those interested to study.  One can shorten a length of rope instantly with this knot and it will hold forever.  It's a good one to understand and know how to tie.  It's uses are many.  It is called the Sheep Shank knot.
Here is a really clear shot of the Sheep Shank knot.  I darkened the background out to exemplify detail.
And one last shot showing one end of the knot.  It's an easy one to tie.
Not a bad set up if I do say so myself.
I sloped the tarp to shed rain if we got lucky tonight.
 A large power boat just ripped by.  They're here.  Darned.  I have to go down and re-rig the Gheenoe so the wakes don't toss it into the bank.  No muffler on his engine either.  What a dunce.!
These butterflies are all over the place.  Pretty little things.  As usual;  I'll have to look them up.
Silver Spotted Skipper.  Yep;  I knew it all the time
I'm kind of giving up on the Okefenokee Swamp paddle trip.  The swamp is so regulated that I fear I won't be able to lose sight of people.  And, I'd rather sleep in a floating canoe than camp on a platform with tourists.  And furthermore;  I damn well know they would bring their wretched boom boxes with them, and cell phones.  I'm the last person they'd want to share a platform with if they had radios and cell phones.  The gators would eat well.  No;  I think I'll pass on that swamp experience.  A shame. North Georgia has a couple rivers with flood planes that extend miles back into Cyprus swamps.  I could really get into that.  I've got to figure it out soon.  My vacation is in September.

I just looked down the hill to the Gheenoe and noticed Old Glory missing off the back of the Gheenoe.   Flag pole and all is missing off the stern.  I must have caught it while making the approach to shore passing under overhanging tree limbs.  Maybe I can see it on the bottom close to shore in the morning.  I think maybe we all better keep an eye on Old Glory lest she disappears from all of our views.  Just a passing thought.  By the way;  the ant is carrying a decapitated spider's head.

Three boats with about 50 horsepower motors just blasted by.  I have to go back down to the boat and check the rubber bumpers again.  I guess the weekenders are arriving.  No sense worrying about getting shots of eagles, beavers or otters this trip.
They blast up the lake and back down and back up and back down, full throttle.  Hurry sundown.
This lake should have a limited motor size on it.  It isn't a wide lake at all and too narrow for these morons to be running huge engines on.  One of the boats was sporting a 225 horsepower Mercury.  That's nuts.  Wonder why the wildlife people of North Carolina don't apply simple logic and common sense to their laws?   Actually, this should be a no engine lake.
I've had a passing thought come and go about selling the Gheenoe.  It's a fast way to get places but then;  I'm never in a rush anymore.  I am thoroughly addicted to canoes..I thought it might be a passing fancy but it's gotten into my psyche.  I enjoy paddling a canoe much more than running the lakes in a motor boat (Gheenoe).  The only down side to the canoe is I can only take one dog, well, maybe two if the second one is small.  I don't know what to think.  I paid cash for the Gheenoe, and it is good to explore new areas quickly.   A canoe is so slow it would take weeks to explore a big lake to determine what kind of critters are on it.  For instance now;  I have to protect the hull of the Gheenoe from being bashed against the shoreline by the wakes from the idiots blasting by with no consideration.  A canoe would be right here beside me on dry land.  I'll keep thinking on it.  Two things are in the Gheenoe's favor;  I can take all my dogs on it and the boat is paid for.  That's a plus and a half.  And;  I like the damn thing.

OK;  now for some Dinty Moore Stew.  Can't wait.  What's this.  Oh no!  I left my eating utensils, fork, at home in my old cooking pot.  I got a new cooking pot and forgot to put the fork and spoon inside.
 No problem.  I'll just whittle a spoon from a stick.
Let's see.  Whittle, whittle.  Ah;  perfect.  No sweat!
No can opener either.  No big deal.  I have my trusty pen knife.  It is due for a sharpening anyway so it won't hurt to cut open the can with it.  The dogs have to eat and I brought them some great canned food too.  Those dogs have it made with me.  They really do.
My problem is that I switch my camping gear from the shed where the canoe is to the house when I prepare to take the Gheenoe.  If I had one big cabinet to house all the camping stuff in one place I would have no trouble.  It's all just spread out in too many places.

A tree fell in the forest across the lake.  a loud Crump, Crump and a Kasmash!  In other words - break, crack, and fall down.  I don't see how even trees can stick on these near vertical mountain sides.  The shrieks of a pair of Osprey is loud.  I quick grab the camera and almost miss them.  They are flying down the opposite shore line.  a very difficult shot to get.
The photography is shabby but it's the best I can do.  I simply shot from the hip, so to speak.
So, lets talk about mowing grass.  Bet you can tell I'm sitting under my canopy in my super comfortable camp chair just writing away.  You're right.
The big zero turn mower is still at the shop getting its $1500 parts and labor wheel pump installed.  In the mean time the grass is about ten to twelve feet tall.  the four acres I mow is all hills.  I rent from the people and mowing reduces my rent.  Now;  I have a little self propelled Ninja lawn mower that I took to the lady's property to mow the grass in front, rear and sides of the house.  That part of the lawn is hill side also.  I started last night and wore myself out.  I retried this morning and the grass was still damp with dew.  The cuttings of grass plugged up the mower due to the moisture content.  Then the mower quit.  A quick examination of the mower indicated the air cleaner was dirty and plugged up with debris.  Off to Maryville I went to buy a filter and a spark plug.  Sixteen miles I drove to buy a $2.95 air filter and a $1.98 spark plut.  I installed the filter and plug and mowed on.  I wanted to come to Calderwood at noon.  I mowed three quarter of the front yard when the drive belt started slipping.  I can't blame the mower as this is brush hog country.  I shut it off and let it sit and came up here.  I couldn't take another drive to Maryville for a $6.00 belt.  What is with this grass mowing thing!  What?!  The physical torment and expensive upkeep of equipment is astronomical!  It's nuts!  To do the job right; I'd have to start mowing at 1PM when the dew is off the grass.  That's when the temperature is approaching a hundred degrees.  That means from 7AM till noon is "wait time" for mowing.  From 1PM till 4PM is mow time.  The day is shot.  It's gone.  All over cutting the damn grass.  OK;  I'll let it go..

A pileated woodpecker is hammering on a tree somewhere up the hill behind us.  Small pieces of debris and leaves can be heard landing on the tarp I'm sitting under.  all are comforting sounds;  natural sounds;  soothing sounds.  The dogs are comforting to me.  They are sticking close, laying about.  I've got three of the best companions imaginable.
I heard a story today from a friend who's brother saw a car dragging a dog behind it.  He got the car pulled over and the driver jumped out and offered an aggressive posture.  When notified he was dragging his dog behind the truck; the driver said, "It's my dog and I'll damn well do what I please with it."  The driver was from Georgia and the dog was gone, it's body half ground away.  Imagine the terror and supreme pain that little dog endured.  It's incomprehensible.  The Sheriff was notified as I understand and legal action levied.  That Georgian driver is a lucky sole.  Had I witnessed that cruel act I would be in jail right now facing attempted murder charges.  I wouldn't have killed him but he would never walk again on his God given legs.  I guarantee it.  I look at my sweet dogs and appreciate their undying dedication to me.  They count on me.  I could never divorce myself from their trust.  Never.

I look at Happy laying by my chair, her little feet, her small body, dedicated to me only----and I think of that inhuman act of dragging a little black and white dog behind a car to it's death, it's feet ground off it's legs and then the legs from the body and finally the body torn to shreds.  I am motivated to do even more for my dogs, my friends.  They will have a swimming pool in the yard before tomorrow night.  I love each of them. 
Crickets and Cicadas are chorusing.  Night has finally arrived and the boats are gone back to the dock side camp ground where they can smell each others smoke and listen to the chatter of all the people until they can't keep their eyes open.  I am wide awake and in tune to the sounds around me.  Finally the wilderness experience occurs.  The fire is bright.

Boom!  There they all three go.   Pitch dark, they, all three, charge silently across the hillside along the lake.  They'll probably lead a bear down to camp.  That's all I need.  
They've all returned.  Not one bark.  Nothing.  Funny thing.

3AM.  something crashed through the camp down by the Gheenoe at the edge of the water.  The crashing of brush and limbs woke me up.  Both Shade and Douglas are gone.  Happy is with me.  I haven't heard a bark or any indication anything was coming through.  Were the dogs frightened?  Dogs will bark at loud cars or strange people but, sometimes they are cautious at strange sightings they don't understand.  One night a herd of Llamas charged Douglas and he did not bark.  He took a stance beside me and stood there with me making low guttural growls.  I think this is the case here.  Shade is a follower.  She will emulate Douglas in such matters.  Likely both dogs were perplexed at the smell and the sound of the intruder.  My first thoughts were that a bear stumbled through the edge of camp while simply walking the shoreline.  Both dogs appear suddenly out of the dark and lie down.  I can't wait to check for tracks to see what that was down there.  If a bear got scent of the dogs he would run for it.  I may never know but, it's sure peaceful at 3:30AM out here.  I'm up now.
An owl is hooting very close to the tent.  He is immediately answered from another located in a tree down by the water.  Two screech owls communicate constantly.  How great!  A bull frog is croaking incessantly on the shoreline across the lake.  His sound carries all that distance perfectly.  The night insects are filling the quiet night with their music.  Wow!  the quiet combined with the night sounds is deafening.  
The sentinel------------

Douglas is growling.  I think we're getting a return visit from the crasher.  All dogs appear on the alert.  Guess I better get out there.  I could hear a grunting sound further out than what the light will reach.  The huffing sound of a bear is not present; not to say it isn't a bear.  I am assuming boar.  I think I'd rather have the bear.  A bear will run from the scent of a dog, most times.  a boar will often face off with a dog.  Multiple boar together could prove interesting and possibly disastrous.  I would protect the dogs with everything I had if need be, and I had it in my hand that moment.  The dogs all stared in the same direction and just sat there.  I'll go back to my chair and not look for trouble.  the excitement added a bit of drama to the evening.  I'm proud of the dogs.  They don't chase large critters.  Probably a natural fear holds them in check.  Whatever the reason, they are all here and safe.  And they are all alert and facing the dark.  It's comforting.  There's really nothing out there that will intentionally do harm.  Key word is intentionally.  It's the accidental blundering into each other;  human and critter, that can cause problems.  The dogs have prevented confrontation.  I love to see the wild stuff in the light but at night;  I'll pass.  The big critters have the edge at night.  I can't believe I'll be walking behind a mower tomorrow.

Morning is upon us and it's time to break camp and load the Gheenoe.  Ha;  the kids are waiting.
I wish we didn't have to leave, and we don't but, I can't deal with the boats on the lake.  Just can't.  So we'll be off.
 Thanks for coming along this trip.  It wasn't a long one but a great time.