Thursday, December 29, 2011

CHEROKEE LAKE--TIME IS WINDING DOWN

click photos to enlarge
I've got two more runs to make on Cherokee Lake and then it's off to Douglas Lake for 2012.  It was a brisk morning today and I had to put on my wind pants to stay comfortable.  I thought about this lake, the Rock Quarry, and in a way I'm going to miss it.
It took me a long time to learn all the parts of Cherokee Lake;  all the coves and back water;  the channels and creeks that flow into it.  I guess that going through the experience of learning all the secrets of a lake sort of creates an intimate relationship.  Cherokee is truly a beautiful body of water when it's at full pool.  It's the depletion of water that creates the ugly duckling.  The low water situation is a temporary one, thank heaven.  But then, one can view the lake at full pool as a temporary situation also;  a face lift destined to failure if you will. 
Cherokee Dam in the early morning mist

I guess beauty doesn't last forever.  At least Cherokee Lake gets a new face lift annually.  The earliest morning moments are indeed beautiful and mysterious.  I always feel like I'm the only one on the lake in the moments just after dawn.  When the fog is thick and the engine is pushing the boat along; it feels like we are sitting still.  There is nothing to gage motion against.  Nothing can be seen but white.  I sometimes can envision us bridging some imaginary barrier and entering into an unknown dimension and when the fog lifts we are lost in a foreign place.  Wow;  that's far out!
Hard to believe that in April, boats will float over all that is brown.
I have to admit that Cherokee does have it's beautiful places.  There are certain vistas that stand out and are photo worthy.  My problem with the lake is that it is a habitat disaster.  Fallen trees can't even fall into the water to provide habitat for fish and water fowl.  They topple over and lie on the barren banks to bleach in the sun.  Ecology is affected in a negative way when the water rises and falls frequently.  The detrimental affects to wildlife due to water level fluctuations are evident everywhere.  Birds for instance, that are common on other lakes, don't even exist on Cherokee.  I have only seen two Ospreys in the six months I've been on this lake and only four Kingfishers.  Kingfishers love trees on the edge of the water.  The edge of the water on Cherokee is 150 feet from the forest.  I understand the flood control issues but, it's a shame the lake must be regulated the way it is.  As I've said before;  I'm ruined living near Calderwood, Tellico, Chilhowee, Abrams Creek, Santeelah and Indian Boundary Lakes.  This, like Douglas Lake, is a work lake.
The unfortunate aspect of the whole situation is that I'll be returning in 2013 to the same scenery.  The lake will be depleted of water.  But, I'll be on it when it's full also.
The option to Cherokee is Douglas Lake.  It is just the opposite of Cherokee.  Where Cherokee has a solid rock bottom and sides;  Douglas is solid mud.
Falcor needed a break so we beached on a spot covered with natural gravel.  We avoid rock shorelines with passion.
It's a very cold morning and the landscape offers no warm visions. The barren shorelines add to the chill in the air. It's a frigid place.
Falcor had a great time on shore.  I have to remember that he is still a puppy.  Sometimes I expect him to act like an adult dog and he just won't do it.  For instance;  when I give him the command to "come" I expect a reaction.  Sometimes he will stand there and stare at me unmoving.  It drives me nuts.
Today; I tried to get him back onto the boat so we could leave the island and he would not come.  He would not allow me to approach him either.  I guess he knows that to get back onto the boat means his play time stops.  I don't know.  One thing I do know.  If he doesn't start reacting to my commands he will eventually get into a situation where he will die.  He has to listen and react to  my commands immediately.  He's young and I'm trying to be patient with him but, I'm concerned about him too.  Maybe I'm spoiled by having dog friends that listen and react perfectly to my commands.
He is a pretty boy!
Falcor is already a hit with all the fishermen on the lake. All of them comment about his good looks and his cuteness.  I'm sure he'll be fine.  It's all up to me to shape him.

Well; life's metronome continues to tap out the beat of time and I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of wilderness activities due to my new location.  I've got to find new wild places to visit or contrive a way to budget money for gasoline to return to my old haunts.  I'm off tomorrow but, the winds will be in the 25 to 30 mph range.  That eliminates canoeing.  I may take the dogs to the old state park back at Tellico.  I'll figure it out in the morning.  This entry is just a "stay in touch" blog entry.  I want to keep the keyboard limbered up.  Keep watching.  I have a couple ideas I will implement soon.