Saturday, January 8, 2011

DANGEROUS COLD WATER - Disappointment

click photos to enlarge
I just returned from Chilhowee Lake and thought I'd put this short entry on the blog while I thaw out.  I awoke this morning to a snow fall.  I quickly loaded up the canoe and tossed Douglas into the truck and sped off for Chilhowee Dam.  That's where the Abrams/Panther creeks channel empties into.  I was in for a surprise when I got there.
I had everything organized just right and all in it's place.  One thing about canoeing;  You have to have it all together at all times, especially in this weather.  The roads were clear all the way to the lower end of Tellico Lake where Chilhowee Lake spills into.  I noticed the water was roughened by the wind.  There was absolutely no breeze in Greenback when I left.  These tall mountains and deep valleys have their own climate and the wind is fickle. The view across Chilhowee was grand but, there were waves out there and that didn't bode well with me.
When we reached Abrams Creek channel;  Douglas, above, took off into the woods and waited for me.  He was all set to hit the trail.  He's smarter then me.  I surveyed the channel where it empties into Chilhowee.  Actually, the water was coming into the channel from the lake instead of the other way around.
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If it was this windy here;  it would be really windy up the Abrams Creek channel.  The valley that runs between the mountain sides funnels the wind straight to the floor of the valley and that floor happens to be water.  It's nothing special about this place.  That's normally how it works in the mountains.  The one place where the wind/funneling effect is exemplified is on Calderwood Lake.  That lake has super tall mountains surrounding it and the wind has a very expansive playground on the mountain sides to run rampant and whip itself up to strong conditions thereby making it a powerful adversary to a canoeist.
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 It just isn't worth it to risk capsizing in this temperature.  Maybe if Douglas weren't along it would be a different story.  He presents a wild card in the boat.  I do have stabilizers  (outriggers) that I use occasionally but didn't think to bring them due to the great stability of this Mistral canoe.  However, they would complicate navigation in the wind.   A thirty mile per hour wind can be a force to reckon with when using a paddle for propulsion.   Hanging items off the side of the canoe isn't my idea of streamlining the craft to make it high wind/water friendly.   This big 17.5' canoe is extremely stable and I normally do not worry about flipping over.  The combination of fast current, rough water, high wind and an 80 pound dog at the bow moving around makes me err on the side of caution.  We'll move on down the road.
I pulled into the boat ramp at Tellico Lake for a look see.  The water was really rough there with a white cap appearing from time to time.  Below:
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And, there he was, just ten minutes from the boat ramp.  He was walking down the road in my lane.  He turned and moved to the side as I slowed to a stop.  I noticed he had no collar.  What a beautiful dog! 
I got out of the truck and squatted down to look as non threatening as possible.  I called softly to him with a friendly voice.  Then I whistled.  He took two steps toward me and no more.  He was unsure.  A car approached and I was forced to leave.  I turned the truck around and came back to find him gone.  He probably went down into the woods.
What would I do with him if he would have come to me.  I don't know really.  That thought never enters into my mind when I find them out here.  All I know is that I have the power to prevent their horrible suffering from starvation and certain death.  If worse comes to worse for want of money;  I have a motorcycle and two canoes I can sell.  All the lost ones require is some food.  I won't deny them that.   The only sin the guy in the photo has committed was being born.  He is absolutely innocent.  But, he has gone; he did not wait for me.  I wish him well, and success in discovering a compassionate human who will be affectionate toward and bestow kindness upon him.

I think the canoe will rest in the shed for the next couple days.  This weather is just too unpredictable to drive the distances necessary to put it on the mountain lakes.  I think the dogs will appreciate an outing on the trail today.  Thanks for looking in again.  I'm sorry I couldn't get you on the water with me.  Till next time;  do something nice for a dog.