Sunday, November 27, 2011

SEARCH FOR THE JOHN & ADDIE GIBSON'S HOMES AT SCONA & FALCOR'S EDUCATION BEGINS

click on photos to enlarge

As usual, I have to apologize for the less than acceptable photography.  Small camera, shooting into the sun and camera shake due to me shaking from heavy breathing.  Whew!  I really need to take the big camera but, when I'm making time through the forest and up mountains;  it's too heavy.  I'm getting this Scona project wrapped up soon and can get back to more casual exploring.  The problem is that I live so far away that when I get to Chilhowee Lake ;  it's noon, or close to it, and the sun is high.  I miss the early morning soft light. The small camera doesn't have the manual adjustments to allow me to compensate.   I used to live close to the lake and could be there in 30 minutes and start before daylight.  Now it's mid morning or noon until I can get into action.  It's just the way it is.
The little girl, Anne, who spent her youth at Scona, told me of two homes that sat up a "holler" near the trout pond.   I discovered a map that clearly designated the spot where the homes were.  Today, Falcor and I would hike back to that spot and photograph what we find.
This day would be Falcor's first big day in the true wilds and on the big lake.  It proved to be a test for him from the very start.
I must remember I am dealing with a 7 month old dog basically, a puppy.  He acts older than he really is, due to his education no doubt,  and it instills a trust and confidence in me that he has some common sense.  Funny;  dogs don't have common sense.  Dumb me!  It's been a long time since I had to deal with a puppy.
I put the boat in the water and had to lift Falcor in.  He would not enter.  I had the same problem with every dog I ever had on the water.  No big deal.  I pushed the boat away from the dock and turned the key to start the engine.  Falcor, on the bow deck, simply decided to walk off the boat and onto the lower surface which was water.  He had no idea about water, other than splashing around in the stream.  This lake surface looked solid to him.  He plunged in and disappeared beneath the surface.  My heart leaped!  I threw my cell phone on the floor and took off my fleece and prepared to jump in after him.  He was out of sight a good five full seconds.  Just as I was about to go in;  I saw what looked like a white soft ball rising from the darkness, toward the surface, slowly.  This was the first time he ever had to swim and obviously didn't coordinate the paddling well.  He was coming up too slowly.  I leaned over the edge and plunged into the water up over my shoulders and grabbed his hair and pulled him the rest of the way up.  He was fine.  Douglas did the same thing on his first voyage but, he stayed on top.  The life jacket will be on Falcor from this point on until he is totally acclimated to swimming.
The drive across the lake was uneventful and I beached the boat at the same spot as last trip.  The hollow I wanted to hike was directly in front of the boat.  How lucky is that?!
Look directly over the troll motor, the white thing with the black end, and you'll see heavy foliage.  That is where Scona Lodge would be able to be seen had it not been destroyed.  That thick foliage is Kudzu.  That is the only spot on that shoreline that contains Kudzu.  I believe it was planted there directly on top the lodge site to further eradicate traces of its existence.
We'll land and tie off onto those two trees ahead
The trail was easy to follow and the sites of the two homes were identified not far away.

The Gibson's selected a gorgeous spot to build homes on.  This is beautiful back here.  The first home sat on the right side of the trail and the second was a hundred feet up the trail and sat on the left side and up a little cut in the mountain side.  A small hollow came down in front of the second house.  There wasn't much to see. 
A foundation wall was visible where the first house sat.  This was the support for the front wall and is just about all there is as testament to habitation.  A few odds and ends could be seen lying about on the ground.
There was less to see where the second house stood.  Both these sites will soon be obliterated from view as the forest is reclaiming it's land.  Chicken wire was here and there and everywhere.
The only remnants of the second house were a few roof pieces scattered about and a drain pipe that channeled off water from the property.  The pipe dumped run off into a small ditch.  Water flowed from that pipe even today.

A tile pipe is broken off back inside the above hole.  It was a drain for water



I had hoped there would be fallen down houses back here.  The destruction of Scona has been very complete.  I don't know if these places were bought by the big company and destroyed or, if nature simply worked it's destructive magic.  The entire Scona site is almost entirely eradicated to the point that soon, no evidence will remain to prove it's existence.  
Come on Falcor;  we've just begun.
There must have been a million turkeys back here.  They had the entire mountain side scratched up.
I counted over 20 scratch marks on the mountain sides.  A herd of turkeys for sure!
I hiked on up the draw past the Gibson site to the top of the mountain.  This is the prettiest section I've seen on this side of the lake. 
The forest is open the whole way up the draw.  It does no good to photograph such areas in a forest as the pictures can not capture the real views.  The camera I have is inadequate for such photography and even my big camera doesn't have the proper lens for this type work.  You can, however, get a feel for the terrain.

OK;  I'm coming.  Relax.  Don't get yer hair all ruffled up!
I had another little friend before, who would wait impatiently on the trail for dad.
  We were finally on top the mountain above the Gibsons.  Falcor started a low growl and I thought, "Oh no, not Haints again."
I didn't have any strange sensations on this side of the trout pond and on this mountain at any time.  He was onto something else.
I caught a glimpse of white far across the draw on the other side, half way up the mountain.  I'm surprised my worn out eyes saw it.  A White Tail Deer slowly stepped from tree to clearing, to tree ever so slowly.  I can't imagine how Falcor could have sensed that deer.  It was so far away that to see or hear anything would be impossible, even for a field dog.  It's all in the nose I guess. 

I saw a strange building on top the mountain behind the trout pond that I never saw before.  It has been hidden by the tree leaves and brush.  I photographed it from the lake on the way over.  I wanted to go up Anne's trail one more time.  After that;  we would work around behind the trout pond, cross the creek and climb up to this strange building.  Again;  pardon the poor photos.  I shot straight into the sun.  It's too late in the morning for this.  This may be a castle full of Haints.
It appears to be round but, I can't be sure. 
Scona Lodge used a dammed up creek as a water source.  I photographed it.  Maybe, in later years, a water tower was built.  If so;  it's a big un!
We drove the boat to the lodge site and started up the now, familiar trail.  I wanted to make one more run on this trail to see if there was anything I missed on previous visits.

I wanted to try to get to the strange building before climbing up the trail.  We would work around behind the trout pond and cross the creek to the base of the mountain where the strange apparition was located.
The water was flowing fast in the creek and it was deep.  I searched for a crossing.  Falcor found many crossings.  He bounded through the water from one side of the creek to the other.  A pair of rubber boots would be required for me, however.
 There is no way I can get across.  We'll go back and climb the trail behind the lodge site.  The strange building is across from the overflow at the trout pond on the opposite mountain top.  I can get to it from the lake shore next time over.

Above:  A pontoon boat beached on the boulders along the overflow of the trout pond.  The problem is that Alcoa dropped the lake level during the day and he's sitting on dry rocks.  I can't imagine what he will do.  I guess wait until the lake level rises.  That could be next Spring. 
These are steps at the Scona Lodge boat launch.  I've never seen them before.


The trail up the mountain at the lodge is very familiar now.  It is steep.  Falcor would need watching.  Gotta remember;  puppy, puppy;  no experience.

The trail goes up, between those two boulders.

Again;  the sun is straight overhead and I'm shooting uphill into it.  Sorry..

This is a cliff.  The drop is straight down.  A fall from here would hurt.
 
Careful little boy!

A fall from here would result in worse than hurt.

It is a few hundred feet straight down from that promontory in the above picture.  Whew!



Above:  Falcor is truly standing on the edge of the world.  He really is!

I saw what I came to see.  There's not much left of Scona.  It's gone into history, I'm afraid accept, it isn't history until it's existence has been documented.  I will do that.  I have collected enough data to do a decent job of presenting a picture of what the lodge was like.  I will not do so until I have a few more photographs to highlight the dialogue.  The lodge, trap and skeet range and the gulf course;  all cut out of rugged territory are all gone.  They are gone like the Gibson's houses and the extravagant cabins that stood along side the trap range.   Gone, also, are many of the people who have been associated with the magnificent lodge;  and with them go the memories of wonderful times spent there.  An old patio, overgrown with vines and fallen trees, along with a silted trout pond, an old spring house and a dammed up creek filled with sediment that once provided a source of water for the lodge, are all that remain.  Soon, what man could not completely accomplish, nature will finish.  After all, when it's all said and done;  Nature will always win.  Always!

Love and miss ya Douglas.