Saturday, March 19, 2011


It figures;  I no sooner get into the stump field and the wind comes up blowing the canoe precariously close to protruding stumps and underwater obstructions.

This week has been physical torture for me.  A bulging vertebrae disk on the lower spine has caused continuous, excruciating pain in my right leg.  No sleep and pain drove me to the chiropractor.  One push on the lower spine by him and instant relief.  Two more successive visits and I'm almost fixed.  He said, "now, don't lift anything and don't sit in one position for a long period of time."  OK; so here I am on the other side of Tellico Lake in the canoe.  I can't help it.
I scanned the lake from the roadway a couple weeks ago and determined the water level too low to paddle across the lake to Citico Creek.  Today, however, indications are that the lake had a little more water in it.

I decided to try to pick my way through the stump fields to Citico Creek.  The rising wind increases the probability of colliding with stumps both under and above the water line.

This end of the lake appears foreboding and desolate.  What should be covered by at least two feet of water is not.
All the dry, brown areas you will see should not be visable.
This looks like a good place to enter the stump fields and try to weave between the pesky stumps without running onto mud flats that are too shallow for even the canoe to glide across.
This area of Tellico Lake fails miserably satisfying the definition of lake.  The area is a marvelous wetland.
 I ran aground four times trying to get between the tree stumps.  It is very shallow out there.  I did find a tiny channel that was just deep enough for the Mistral to cruise over.  I was not paddling.  I was pushing the canoe with the paddle in the mud.  The wind is strong enough and the depth so unreliable that I didn't take many photos while going through this section of water.  I just couldn't sit the paddle down for a moment.  After a half hour of trying to find deep enough water to get the boat through;  I finally found Citico Creek.  It didn't carry enough water to float the canoe.  The entire area looked like a serious artillery barrage took place here.
The shots above and below are whats left of Citico Creek where it flows into Tellico Lake.
I beached the canoe and stepped out, expecting to feel pain.  No pain!  Alright then;  I'll just wander about here on this desolate ground and see what I can see.
I was disappointed to see that Citico Creek was not of navigable depth.  I'm sure it is much deeper back in the mountain.
Silt and rubble are washed down Citico and deposited at the mouth of the creek.  Over the years the deposits have accumulated to a height that holds back much of the creek water.  When the lake level drops the water from Citico becomes distributed across a  wide bed of mud and gravel diminishing its depth and size at its mouth.  I'm sure it's deep enough to put a boat on farther back upstream in the mountain ravine where it runs.
Above and below is Citico Creek;  the same beautiful creek I paddled last year in the Champlain canoe.  The water is barely deep enough to cover my boots.  Too bad this waterway has to be affected like this when the lake is drawn down.
This piece of real estate appears desolate but, there are waterfowl breeding here and water life and amphibians of uncountable numbers.  And, it's not really hard to find beauty back here.  One just has to look and -----see.
These are deer tracks.  They lead straight into the lake.  Back where they exited the woods, they were spaced wide apart.  The deer was taking a longer stride.  He was running.   
This was why he was running.  I'd bet my last dollar a coyote has been on this deer's trail.  His foot prints are directly on top of the deer tracks back at the woods.  The deer probably slowed down as he neared the water to check his back trail to see if he shook his follower.  Either that or it's a wild dog.
Not all is lost on this endeavor.  I am sitting here on this forlorn spot listening to tree frogs, geese and song birds.  The sun feels good on my face.  I'm not looking forward to the return paddle trip.  There is no way to recall or find the exact route I took to get way over here.  Only trial, error and judgment will get me back without grounding on the shallow river bottom or running up on some stump covered with three inches of water.
The shot below was taken with the Elph camera.  That camera wasn't made for fast subjects but, I think it did pretty well.
It is pretty in places back here.  Even the barren shoreline is attractive if looked at in the proper perspective.
Last year I floated the canoe up to this stand of cat tails sneaking up on wood ducks.  That was a great, fun day.
The Mistral somehow looks out of place here.  I think there needs to be more than one boat in the picture.  One boat appears lonely and infinitesimal.  Two boats would be indicative of comradeship and happiness. That's me alright.  I'm just totally full of comradeship.  Bet ya didn't know that was a real word did ya?
The water flowing out of Citico Creek appears clean and clear.  The soil it carries is filtered out through the billions and billions of tiny pebbles and acres of sand as it flows toward Tellico Lake.
One more picture and I'm out of here.  It's going to be a trick to get through all those stumps and debris to the deep water on the other side of the lake.  That canoe sure does look lonely, doesn't it?
With luck, tonight, Douglas, Shade, Happy and I will be camped on Calderwood Lake with the Gheenoe.  My lower back aches but the leg is working fine.  That's a positive thing!  If I can successfully lift the canoe onto the truck cap when I get back;  I believe all will be fine.

At last;  some real water!
 The ride to Calderwood Lake was uneventful accept to say that every human being in the world was driving on Route 129, The Dragon.  We loaded up the Gheenoe and were off.  I turned the boat into Slick Rock Creek Channel and cruised up to our favorite camp spot.  A tent was already there.  I knew we should have come up here in the morning.  I just knew it.  It's the weekend too and that is not my favorite time to be on the road or the water.  Oh well;  we would make for the hill side campsite.
Like I said before;  these dogs are the luckiest dogs in the world.
Something told me I better put some smoke to the engine or someone would beat us to the hill side camp spot.  I hate to have to be in a rush.  I am not a weekend person.  There's too many people out of doors that are competing for this spot or that area or that parking spot or camp spot.  If I would have thought this over a bit more;  I would have stayed home and gone for a motorcycle ride.  But then;  that wouldn't have given my kids here any quality time.  I'll pretend it's their camp out.  Ha;  it really is, you know....
I really like running on this lake.  It just is the only lake I can get a feel, a flavor,  of true wilderness.
Oh, I know it's not true wilderness.  Through the week it seems to be though.  Through the week it's quiet here.  All the critters can be heard without interruptions from outboard motors and loud yacking of the human ilk.  And, it's clean.  A good representation of the various water mammals can be found here.  There are also a large population of my favorite duck, the wood duck.  "Hang on guys we're gonna make time!"
The hill side camp site appeared on our left in no time and, it was vacant.  Oh;  perish the thought of lugging all that stuff up that hill to the level ground.
As the Gheenoe neared the shoreline I threw the sea anchor overboard.  It's nothing more than an anchor with a fifteen foot bungee cord tied to it.  The other end of the bungee is, of course, tied to the boat.  Then I pull up to the shore, jump out and tie the bow line to a tree.   Actually, I pull up to the shore twice.  The first time all the dogs gang off the boat and the bungee pulls it away from shore.  Then I have to drive to shore again to get out myself.  Funny to watch I'd say.  When the boat is unloaded;  I untie the bow line and hold it until the bungee corded anchor retracts against the boat and the Gheenoe is pulled back away from the shore.  I then simply tie off the bow line to the tree.  When I reload the boat I'll pull the Gheenoe back in to the shore.  Easy.  I did not want the boat to be too far out in this lake.  I tied the bow line short to the tree but, the bungee cord had quite a pull on it.  Perfect!
Oh, this hill side!  Everything is heavy as I carry it all up this hill.  I'm using the canoe Duluth Pack which holds every camp item needed.  The idea is to stay organized and have it all in one spot.  That bag is heavy!  I'm splitting the stuff up into two bags when I get back.  If this doesn't kill my back;  nothing will!  I wish that tent was standing.  It only takes thirty seconds to put up but, making camp is time consuming and all I want to do is rest up.  But, the camp needs made.
It's amazing how fast this tent goes up.  It really is up in 30 seconds.  It uses an internal framework that is permanently attached to the tent.  The tent is called an OZ Tent and it's made in Australia.  She's a big animal though.  Weighs about 30 lbs.  But, neither the Gheenoe nor the Mistral canoe cares.  I do, however, when lugging it up this hill.  I quickly broke out the Whisper Lite stove to heat up dinner when I looked across the lake.  There was an otter.  He was swimming toward the shore and was climbing out of the water.  It is so very dark I doubt I can get him with the camera.  I'll try though.  I quickly push "increase" the ISO higher and fire away.
The shots are sadly lacking but, there are otter in Calderwood Lake.  There are beaver here also.
The moment of excitement waned and it was back to dinner.  I prepared Bushes Baked Beans for myself and when that was over;  I mixed a can of Alpo in with two cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew and mixed it up for the dogs.  Of course a preheat to the temperature of about 90 degrees was in order before serving.  They went nuts over it!  I got to thinking;  "I'm eating baked beans and the dogs are enjoying beef stew."  I laughed out loud.  I like pulling out the stops for them.  They're great friends.  
I finally got a fire started and settled into my favorite chair.  I looked up where the lantern usually hangs down from the porch roof and it wasn't there.  I forgot to get batteries for the lantern on the way up here.  I would write by flashlight.  I had to rig it to the lantern hanger and angle the light so it hit on the page of my journal.  Seems to be working.
Yes the awning roof is tilted.  I know.  If it rains I want maximum run off.  By the way;  look closely at the chair.  I ordered leg extensions a couple months back from the same company who makes the chair (Kermit Chair Co.)  What a great addition!  What comfort!
Somebody has taken it upon themselves to increase the size of the fire circle.  I guess it's called a fire circle.  By the looks of it;  the thing could rival an Inca temple.  I hate these damn monstrosities!  Why on earth anyone constructs these obnoxious visions is beyond me.  I mean;  look below at the fire I have.  It's warm and pretty to look at.  It's all that's necessary.  There is no need to construct a two story fire dwelling for a camp fire.
The sciatic nerve has been quiet during the entire voyage here and even while carrying all the heavy gear up the hill to the site.  I can feel distant aches in my right thigh, but that's all.  Morning will tell the tale.

Douglas and Shade tore off up the steep cliff behind me in chase of some illusive forest creature.  Dear Happy remains at my side, ever devoted, eyes constantly focused on my every move.  she is a little treasure.  She's a yippy, yappy little girl but then, what girls aren't?
I shined my light far up the hill side and I see the eyes of Douglas and Shade.  They're laying in the leaves up there.  I think my dogs are becoming wild.  Not really.  They are enjoying the magnificent freedom they have this night to the maximum.  They are out of the yard!  They're in the wilderness.  I'll let them alone up there.
The sky is full of stars and the evening is of a pleasant temperature.  The gentle breeze with short gusts holds promise of rain.  Let it come if it will....
The dogs have drifted back into camp.  Douglas, ever the loner, stays out near the edge of the light and stares into the night constantly looking.
Happy joins him but, he'll have none of it.  He's a tough one to figure out.
Shade is panting and goes to the water, steps in and sits down.  Goofy Shade!  Love her!
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I tend to ramble on about this or that.  I enjoy quiet.  and, when I'm surrounded by the sounds of silence, I think a lot.  Tonight I'm wondering how the cranes will fare in a year and a half when the hunting season topic again arises.  I'm thinking about how long my health will hold out and how much healthy time I have to explore and wander over the wilderness areas.  Oh, I'm in really good shape for my age I think, just shy of 65 years old.  But, we can't maintain ourselves forever.  This spring has been a wake up call for me on the health issue.  The doctor says the disks between the vertebrae are thin and the bone displays "normal" artheretic appearances.  "Nothing abnormal for a guy your age, he says."  funny thing;  I never considered myself a candidate for artheretic anything.  Maybe I'll buy some prune juice and bananas on the way back home.
Calderwood seems to be getting busier and busier with each year that passes.  Of course, today is the first nice day after Winter that we've had and maybe folks are enjoying it en mass.  Most all are back at the boat launch in campers and tents.  As far as I know, the campers at slick Rock Creek and myself are the only ones out on the lake camping.  That's one too many inhabitants.
If it starts getting too busy here;  perhaps I'll investigate the Joyce Kilmer Memorial forest shoreline that is kissed by Santeelah Lake.  Now, that's a pretty piece of water for sure.
It seems, when I'm on Calderwood, that the photo opportunities present themselves either early morning or early evening.  Both time periods present low light situations.  I think that wildlife on Calderwood actually act like wildlife was intended.  the busy lakes below are clogged with the constant boat traffic comprised of fishermen and members of Satan's children better known as jet skiers.  The wildlife, I believe, has become nocturnal in nature because of it.  The Tennessee River seems to be the exception.  Spring has always been a smörgåsbord of photo ops on the Little Tennessee.  Bald eagles, loons, osprey, herons of every type, cormorants and my old friend the king fisher all flourish there.  Beaver are no strangers either.   I can always count on a black vulture or two on any day.  I do need to check on the bald eagle nest in the near future.  I believe the young are hatched by now.

An amazing thing has happened!  Douglas is down at the waters edge.  I can see him silhouetted by the moon light against the water.  All of a sudden a huge splash of water appeared in front of him.  A beaver was passing and smacked the water with its tail.  The beaver slammed his tail on the water nine times with approximately ten second breaks.  Douglas never moved.  Imagine that;  a curious beaver!  I've never seen or heard of such a thing.  The rascal has the audacity to calmly swim away on top the water.  Douglas would have none of that.  He quickly entered the water and gave chase.  He was actually gaining on the critter when the beaver gave one more splash and disappeared beneath the surface.  Oh, to have that in the camera!
Happy has just entered the tent through the small opening in the netting I unzipped for her.  She's laying on my sleeping bag.   What a wonderful pup!  Shade is by my chair and Douglas is, well, out there somewhere.  He's not too far but he's out there beyond the fire light.  He's becoming harder and harder to read.  Shade appears at the snap of my fingers.  Douglas requires whistling and cajoling.  I don't understand.   He's been sitting on the bank for a half hour just staring into the water where the beaver was.  I walk up to him and pet his head and he slowly walked into the water and gently swam out and along the shoreline.
It's morning and I'm awakened by the sounds of a woodpecker cutting down a tree and an owl hooting out his dismay at the racket.  The steady breathing of the little dog laying at my chest seemed reassuring to me.  I moved to get up and excruciating pain shot up my right leg.  No matter how I turned;  the pain occurred.  This is what I feared.  I could not find relief in any position I assumed.   I finally could stand and work my way through dressing myself.  The pain slowly subsided as I shuffled around the leaves outside.  The pain hit again as I moved to sit in the chair.  I laid down and that didn't help.  I made a fist of my right hand and placed it under the offending vertebrae and rolled over onto it.  The pain instantly ceased.  I got up without a pain symptom.  Now's the time to dismantle this camp and get out of here in case the pain returns.  I carried the heavy bundles down the hill and loaded them onto the Gheenoe without problems.  We're out of here!
The boat ramp area was full of trucks, cars and people.  I've never seen so many kayaks in one place.  What is this!?
I finally got the trailer backed into the ramp and the boat loaded.  I just wanted out of here.  What in the world is going on?  As we drove away and out the little boat ramp road;  I saw a van.  Oh no!  Read it yourself.  Someone finally discovered this lake a perfect place to guide kayaks on.  Gotta love the almighty dollar.   I'm afraid this is just the start.
And where did all this construction metal come from?  Now what?  I'm afraid Calderwood is about to get a new face.  A shame.  A damn shame!