Saturday, December 25, 2010

CHRISTMAS DAY

click on photos to enlarge
Yes it does snow in Tennessee.  This is highway 411 South heading toward Vonore and the old state park where the Carson/McGee ruins lie.  I slept in late today and didn't get a very early start on things.  The snow was really falling this morning.  My imagination saw me in the canoe on Calderwood lake paddling the snow covered shoreline.  However;  I doubt I could have driven to Calderwood as there are gates situated at points along route 129 that can be closed in snowy weather thereby preventing car travel.  Last I heard there is over four feet of snow on top that mountain where Calderwood Lake resides.  The above picture shows a small amount of snow along the road.  It appears that Tellico Lake and South only got about an inch that actually lay on the ground.  From the town of Greenback North, there is about four inches.  I hung around the habitat here trying to decide whether to take out the canoe or just go with the dogs.  The snow was more rain than anything and I didn't feel like bundling up and pulling on a rain suite over everything just to go for a two hour canoe ride.  I opted for the dogs.  We headed for the old ruins.  Douglas was excited.
The road through the old state park was blocked by a gate.  What's with all the gates in Tennessee?  Everything has a gate on it.  Cherohala Skyway has gates on it;  route 129 has gates on it;  Blue Ridge Parkway has gates on it;  Great Smoky Mountain National Park has gates on it.  I guess those in power don't believe the common citizen has enough good judgment to decide weather to drive in bad weather or not so to be sure we don't hurt ourselves;  they just shut the gates and keep us out.  OK;  I understand.  There are many of us who like to Winter hike and camp.   I can imagine leaving Calderwood after a camp out and driving toward home only to find I was locked in on the wrong side of the gate that someone shut.  The answer is bolt cutters I guess.  It hasn't happened yet.  Yet!
 I drove to the same trail we hiked on yesterday, only today we'd take a fork in the trail that would lead North along Tellico Lake.  I wish I'd known the gate was shut on the old state park to save me that drive.  I watched the fuel needle slowly move toward empty during that wasted trip.
There was very little snow on the ground.  Everything was more wet than snow covered.  The air was cold and wet.  That isn't a good combination.  We didn't walk an eighth of a mile and I was getting wet under my winter coat.  I had cotton garments on.   When on a real hike I use poly clothing or wool.  I was getting chilled even after only hiking a half hour.
I've ranted previously about the topic I'm about to bring up.  I've made mention in this forum about it a couple times.  I come from a hunting background.  I was born and raised on a farm in Pennsylvania so you can imagine my likes and dislikes while growing up in that rural setting.  I loved guns and hunting.  Furthermore;  I was taught not to kill what you won't eat.  It stuck with me.  I also was taught good hunting ethics.  Don't shoot at birds on the ground, don't shoot deer while laying down or swimming (illegal anyway), and leave the forest like you found it----clean and undisturbed.  These are just a very few things I had been taught.
Tennessee and Pennsylvania are no way alike when it comes to hunting practices.  For instance;  State Parks and hiking trails are strictly off limits in Pennsylvania.  Here in Tennessee the old state park is open to hunting.  Even the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest opens to hunting during bear season.  The mountains along the Cherohala Skyway are open to bear hunting here in Tennessee.  That is in the National Park.   What's with that?  I bring this up because every year I see deer offal on the Glendale Hiking Trail  (East Lakeshore Trail). It happens every year at deer season.  It is a disgusting state of affairs to walk down the trail into a pile of deer guts right where one must walk.  This is a public hiking trail;  not a deer hunters trail for cleaning dead deer.  If this were Pennsylvania the entire trail would be protected with a "no hunting zone" that would extend 150 yards out on each side of the trail.   You think I'm lying?  Look below.

Click on it to enlarge.  There you come down the trail after Christmas dinner with the kids and Rover and walk up on this pile of guts.  How wonderful!



Here's a better shot on the right.  The shoreline is twenty feet off the trail to the right.  It would have been a simple matter to drag the quarry that short distance and leave the guts next to the water.  Vultures and crows would have done the rest.  But the lazy SOB doesn't care about anyone else but himself.  This is the same responsible hunter we are supposed to believe will be able to tell the difference between a sandhill crane and a whooping crane when the new sandhill crane hunting season opens.  The whooping cranes teeter on the edge of extinction and flock together with the sandhills.  TWRA states that Tennessee hunters will be given guidelines that will allow them to determine the differences between the two species.   I bet the guy who left the guts on the trail could care less.  He is probably the same guy who shot the "Hiking Trail Boat Landing" sign with a shotgun the second day it was erected two years ago.  I personally elect not to hunt and I have no problem with people hunting legally.  I do have a problem with so called hunters who act like back woods dolts when it comes to hunting ethics and elect to stay that way and have no common sense;  no hunter ethics.  Those hunters, unfortunately, are the ones who make the lasting impressions on the folks who don't hunt.   I am affected by this to the extent that I am reluctant to turn my back on a man in the woods with a gun laying across the crook of his arm.  And if Douglas or Shade are with me;  I really worry.  If someone will blast away at a brand new sign on the hiking trail;  a dog is nothing more than a target to them and something to shoot at.  You all know how I feel about Douglas and Shade.  How do you think I would react should I see them shot?.  Anyway;  its Christmas and I'll just walk around the gut pile and continue on down the trail.  As a final thought on it;  this sandhill crane hunt comes to mind.  The excuse is made that other states hunt them so why not Tennessee?  What is this;  follow the leader?  There is no challenge to shooting a slow flying crane in any way shape or form.  It's like shooting something standing still.  And, I wouldn't doubt that many cranes will be killed while standing still.  After all;  today I've been shown the caliber of hunter that will take part in that hunt.  I envision him standing and holding three limp cranes by the neck from outstretched arms with a smile on his proud face.  Probably toss em in the trash barrel after the camera picture.   I saw his ethics on the trail today.  Actually;  I'd be ashamed to kill a crane.  Let's see how good he is on a Pennsylvania Ruffed Grouse!  Ok;  I'll let this go.  It's Christmas already!
Shade just has to roll in the mud.  She's actually trying to dry off.  I'll have to coax her back into the water before she gets in the truck for the ride home.  The ground is more wet than it is covered with snow.  I tried walking next to the water on the shoreline but the mud caked on the soles of my boots.   No matter; the trail is fine.

This trail must have taken years to cut.  It goes clear out as far as you can see in this picture on both sides of the cove above.  Then it branches off both left and right on the main lake channel.  It is a beautiful walk in the summer and in Fall.
The views up through the woods are pretty with the brown leaves highlighted  by the green plants and the white snow.
If you look closely at the following picture;  you will see three farm silo's sticking out of the lake.
I copied and cropped the above picture.  It is below.  I have much better shots of those silo's else ware on this blog.  I am constantly reminded of eminent domain when I see those three silo's.  The below shot isn't very good as I had to really enlarge the cropped area.
What else is under that water by the silo's you wonder?  How about a farm house and barn?  They have long since washed away but the foundations are there and can be seen from a boat floating above them.
I'm not going to do the entire trail loop tonight.  The sun is going down fast now and it will be about dark when I get back to the truck.  I could have done a canoe paddle today while it was snowing but it would have been a wet ride.  The snow melts as it touches the ground, and me.  I'd have been soaked.
Now, if I had a mission to get out there for a reason to a camp spot in the canoe, I'd dress accordingly and hit the water rain, snow or shine.  But to just go out and paddle for a couple hours is not worth the major effort required to do all the preparation to get on the water.  I would have loved to be in a canoe on Calderwood Lake this weekend though.
I have heard the weather is going to warm up in the fifties late next week.  Ah ha!   If it does that,  I will definitely have that Mistral canoe on either Calderwood or Indian Boundary Lake.  I'm dying to photograph otters on Indian Boundary Lake.  Below is an example of an otter on Indian Boundary.

I'm almost back to the truck.  Tomorrow, Sunday, is a work day.  I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  Please check out this blog from time to time.  I promise some unusual posts in the near future.  See you later.