Friday, September 30, 2011


click on photos to enlarge
The entire area was somber and quiet as dawn approached this morning.

The wind was picking up and small waves could be heard lapping against the shoreline.
Cherokee Lake, affectionately known as the Stone Quarry, actually appeared beautiful in the dim light of dawn.  It was a short lived moment as the sun climbed higher and higher.

A sinister looking car pulled into the ramp area and parked near the woods.  Two rather scruffy looking characters sat in the front seat eyeing  up the state rig.  I wanted to get the boat in the water but thought I would see if I could wait them out.  All I needed this morning was a confrontation with two high class, professional thieves at an isolated boat dock.  No problem though.  Happy, the highly trained attack, guard dog was with me and she is renouned for her fearless, aggressive nature.

The sinister car with the evil people lurking in it.
It is a struggle getting from my little home in utopia to the shores of this rock quarry.  Interstate roadways make up a large portion of the problem and rural four lanes pick up where the interstate stops.  Cars and trucks dice for positions on the multiple lane highways as vehicles accelerate up side entrance ramps and plunge recklessly into the fast moving may lay with total abandonment holding expectations that the expressway vehicles can and will allow them "safe" entrance into the traffic flow.  Entrance ramp vehicles are supposed to yield to the interstate traffic;  at least that's how I was trained to drive.  Even the rural country roads become miniture race tracks for pick ups and cars at 5:30 AM.  It seems everyone is late for work every day.  And, so, as I trundle down the roads at this early hour, I am mentally taxed to be creative in my ability to dodge close calls and react to careless drivers.  I've never, ever, witnessed such horrible driving in my existance on this planet as I have in this East Tennessee area.  Also, I'm going to write a nasty letter to the auto manufacturers of the world and tell them to please go back to installing turn signals on the vehicles they build, just like they used to.

On the water at last
 All the stressful things disappear when the boat pulls away from shore.  I'm in command of my day.
Watching the sun rise on a lake is nothing less than a privilage.  Even the rock quarry takes on a certain look of , shall we say respectability, when viewed at the start of dawn.  The moment of beauty is short as the rocks and mud are illuminated by the oncomming sunlight. 

"Oh, Cherokee Lake;  the scars have disfigured your face and diminished your beauty but, I appreciate you lending me your waters to float upon."

As you can see, Happy is absolutely thrilled with this early morning venture.  She is a bundle of energy and springs about excitedly anticipating the day's adventures.
Cormorant standing on a rock.  Left of center in picture

I was cruising along about 30 miles per hour when I noticed a bird off to my right that didn't look quite right.  There was a lot of him sticking out of the water.  Good grief;  he was standing on a rock.  I throttled down and banked the boat to the left.
He was standing on a rock that was sticking out of the water maybe a foot.  I was shocked to see this obsticle in this particular bay area.  I documented it on my navigation screen.  That one is a killer for sure.  It's suicide to run this lake at night.
I've always got my eyes peeled for unique sights and pleasant natural points of beauty.  Sometimes when I use the binoculars to search the lake for fishing boats;  I'll scan the shoreline to see if I can locate an area that might hold something of interest for me.  I usually stop for a mid morning break and I like that break to be at an interesting place.  It ain't easy on Cherokee to find beautiful spots to stop but, ocassionally I locate a special little piece of environment that satisifies my lust for  natural wonder.  I found such a place this morning.
Even the mud, shale and barron shoreline seemed flow into an artistic form, sort of.  Anyway;  it was the best spot I could come up with.

Happy is enjoying the break.  It isn't Calderwood but, then, there is only one of those.  It's sorta like if ya can't be with the one you love then, love the one you're with.

Seriously speaking though;  it is a pretty spot here and the views are great.

Now what did she discover.  Gotta watch em close.

The wind is really getting strong and we will have to be under way shortly.

The only two shells on the shoreline.  Wonder why?

It's long struggle for survival is almost at an end.  Erosion has stollen its grip on life.
As with all things in nature;  it is relentless in it's search for life giving nutrients and water but, it will lose this fight for life.  This rock quarry presents a challenge to all who reside here.
By the looks of things;  nature will try to beautify the rock pit with Fall colors.  It will be a welcomed occurance here on these desolate shores.
We've got to move.  The wind and waves are pushing the boat parallel to the shore.  If that happens there won't be enough water depth to submerge the engine prop to pull us away to sea.  We're out of here.
The water did indeed get a lot rougher since we stopped.  Oh well;  that's the way it goes.  No big deal though.  I met some nice anglers later in the morning and had a great day on the water.  Stay tuned because there is a Calderwood camp out in the canoe coming up shortly.  I gotta get back up there.
Douglas;  we're going to Slick Rock Creek shortly.  Taken you with me.
At last;  I've found a flower in the quarry

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Calderwood Reflections by Canoe---Magic Waters

click photos to enlarge, unless you're using satellite internet-what a joke!

Mountain view from the lake

I got the canoe unloaded and under way just as the sun was arriving.  Calderwood was not going to disappoint my expectations this day.  The morning was grand and the rest to follow promised to be nothing short of sensational.
It was still dark but I had to get on the water.  What a peaceful time it was!
The paddle blade tracks were spaced perfectly even behind the canoe as it moved effortlessly and silently down the lake on a surface smooth as glass.
It was a treat watching the morning become brighter and brighter.  I kept close to the shoreline in hopes of witnessing the movements of beaver or otter.  A small group of wood ducks paddled near the overhanging bushes ahead of me, keeping the distance between us the same at all times.  Wood ducks are very wary and it is nearly impossible to sneak up o them, even in a canoe.  They definitely knew of my presence.
I cut across the lake to Slick Rock Cove.  There was a tent at the mouth of the creek at the site I usually use.  I pulled the canoe to the shore at a beautiful spot that Douglas and I used to stop at.  I would watch him swim and play his happy lap games.  I wanted to enter a line or two in my journal.
I stepped onto a boulder beside the boat and slipped.  Yes;  into the water I went.  At least I landed feet down and just short of waist deep.  It was a difficult scramble to get out of the water and up onto that big slippery rock.  No harm done though.
If the incident would have happened in November, the outcome would be different, I assure you.  An immediate change of clothes would be called for.  It is a warm morning and I would dry out.
I won't get to walk along Slick Rock Creek this trip due to the presence of the campers.  It's just as well as I have had Douglas on my mind the whole drive up here.  This was his "Happy Water Place."  The images of him playing on Slick Rock Creek are burned deeply in my mind.  His spirit resides here.  Yes;  Douglas has a spirit.  He does to me anyway.

Hornet nests are everywhere along the shoreline

It appears I have encroached on the private property of a squirrel.  He is audibly chastising me from a nearby tree.  The little scamp is jumping from limb to limb chattering loudly and jumping forward and backward on a limb feigning attack.  He won't sit still long enough for me to photograph him.  I'll get him though.
"OK;  I'm leaving.  Settle down."
He was a tough cookie to photograph.  A quick jump behind the tree trunk and that's the last I saw of him.  The only part of him I could get was his little foot before even it disappeared out of site.  A precious memory.
I headed toward the hillside campsite.  I just feel at home when near that place.  There are so very many happy memories associated with that site.  The water was gorgeous this morning and the canoe moved upon it as it never has before.
I don't think I've ever seen the lake so peaceful as this morning.  I came here alone, without any of my little friends.  I wanted to simply be alone in this canoe with my thoughts.
Guess I wasn't totally alone.  My lost golden friend was close to me.  His muzzle was resting on the thwart as he enjoyed a deep sleep brought on by the gentle lapping of the water against the bow of the canoe.  I miss him.
The sun was positioning itself in such a way that the shoreline was alive with reflections.  A gentle breeze would occasionally arise and erase the mirror images from the surface but, the breezes were few and the scenes spectacular!
Things are alone many times in nature but, things are never lonely.   They drift along and appear insignificant to the human eye.  However, their lot in life is to serve in nature's grand plan by sacrificing themselves for the benefit of all the others and through them they are reborn to complete the circle of life repetitively and indefinitely. 

A simple floating leaf, with all it's simplicity, becomes a centerpiece upon the lakes quiet waters.
But, the reflections----the reflections are duplications of nature's soul and are perfection in their design.
Calderwood is simply one grand scene after another and, on and on.
Are you seeing double yet?
Some of the images are so convoluted it's difficult to determine what is reflection and what is not.  It is also hard to tell what is being reflected.
The light quality is incredible this morning.
One can notice some early Fall color showing.  This is a high mountain lake and I bet a dollar the Fall colors come early this year to Calderwood.
A canoe is pure joy to paddle on this lake.  To enter here with a motor is sacrilegious.  Yet, there are those who do.  Below--one old guy sputtered past me at a slow speed in his dilapidated old aluminum boat, heading downstream.   The thing wasn't fit to be on the water.  But, it was his and probably has served him well for years.  I respect these old guys who still cling to what makes them happy, though sometimes the aches and pains tempt them to stay home.   He wasn't fishing and seemed to just be enjoying the morning;  like me.
I was getting close to the hillside campsite.  I will also cruise past the old submerged tunnel.  It's been a couple years since I've been close to it.

There is an otter den in this hole.  I know for a fact

This mid section of the lake is a favorite of mine.  There's something of interest everywhere the eye lingers.
The hillside campsite is coming up on the left.

It's on the mountain side behind those trees at shoreline

Oh, the beautiful nights Douglas and I had at this site!

I can see you up there my sweet golden boy
I want to paddle to one more place I call the secret cove.  It's a place where Douglas and I stopped occasionally.  Not many go there as the water is very shallow in the Summer and the creek bottom is covered with rock.  We loved it there.  The train tunnel is on the way.

The lake is near full pool and the tunnel itself is inaccessible.  Only the opening can be viewed.

One can paddle through this tunnel mid Summer.  I said "one" can.  That one is not me

This channel narrows down and leads into the secret cove
The secret part lies in the fact that to get to the stream that flows off the mountain, it is necessary to get behind those rocks and boulders ahead.  There's a trick to it and the channel is not much wider than a canoe.  Douglas and I discovered the trick channel a couple years ago.  It's tricky though.

It looks like a dead end but there is a narrow passage behind heavy scrub that is growing out from the actual shoreline on rocky soil.  A water channel flows between that scrub and the shoreline.  It is a narrow passage.

There's the little channel of water that leads behind the boulders

Heading out of the narrow passage back toward the lake
It's getting late morning and I'm about three hours away from the truck so I better get moving.  I miss my girls at home.  I should have brought one of them with me I guess.  But, I enjoyed the aloneness today.

I was in my glory today.  This is the lake to end all lakes.  It is nature's model of what a real lake should look like, even though it is man made.  Man just doesn't fiddle with it so much and nature has her way with it.
I've got the length of a lake to paddle and a mountain to cross after that so I better be on my way.  I hope you found some enjoyment in viewing the pictures.  Don't forget to click on them to enlarge.  Tomorrow will find me back in the water filled stone quarry called Cherokee Lake.  I kid about Cherokee a lot.  Just have to accept it for what it is.  And I do.  It's a stone quarry filled with water.  ha.  Next time----