Thursday, January 5, 2012

1st CANOE FLOAT FOR 2012

Click on photos to enlarge
Beautiful Chilhowee Lake--Food for the soul after being on Cherokee and Douglas Lakes for the past six months.
The tractor trailer was passing, beside me, on the left and a little toy car was riding a few yards off the back of my canoe trailer on Interstate 40 at 65 miles per hour, when a car came zipping along very fast up the on ramp to merge into traffic.  The only thing is that there was no place for him to fit in.  I couldn't slow as the guy behind me was too close and I couldn't change lanes because of the truck beside me.  This guy didn't seem to care.  Either that or he had a death wish.  He never let up on the gas.  We were sure to collide.  He merged in front of me and missed my right fender by no more than a foot.  If he would have hit me I was prepared to drive the gas pedal through the floor and make him a believer in the word "yield".   I've no tolerance for idiots and I felt the blood running hot in my neck just under my ears.  If that guy had a death wish then I would grant him his desires as best I could.  It was just one of those mornings.  I needed to get out of Dodge for a day.
Peace at last!
I really wanted to get to Calderwood Lake but, as usual, I got a late start and it's a journey to any of the lakes I love to visit.  I had chores to do at home before I left and that further upset the schedule.  There's that word;  schedule.  When Chilhowee Lake appeared I thought, why not just put the canoe on Abrams Creek, as Calderwood was another 30 miles across the Dragon, Route 129?  Abrams and Panther Creeks are always a good paddle trip.  And so I did.
Canoe put-in area
The road crews have removed all the blow downs caused by the tornado last year.  This little put-in area was blocked with trees last Fall.
Douglas and I used to come to this place frequently to hike around the mountain.  The tornado has the trees a hundred percent knocked down.  It's a mess up there.

The getaway machine was ready and there wasn't a breeze at all.







The water was silky smooth and the canoe looked beautiful resting, waiting.





The temperature was warm.  The jacket came off and got tossed into the boat.  This was worth waiting for.  I stepped into the canoe, sat down and grabbed the paddle.  That paddle felt great in my hands.  It felt like coming home.
The shoreline was littered by blown down trees from the tornado.  Even so;  there was beauty everywhere.  Natural calamities in the wilderness usually do not ruin the beauty of the place but, simply add unexpected and interesting views.  Man made alterations usually result in less than picturesque sights.  Natural events happen frequently and simply rearrange things.
I paddled the canoe as quietly and slowly as I could.  I kept a sharp eye out for that elusive Mink I saw here last year.  I know there are otter back here also and they are just as difficult to sneak up on.
Abrams and Panther Creeks are both located within the boundaries of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and are guaranteed protection from the human elements that could easily ruin the beauty of these places.  Funny thought;  humans protecting something from humans.  We are an amazing species!
Abrams Creek is a lot like Calderwood when it comes to seeing critters.  Early morning is the best time with nightfall a good second bet.  I can't seem to get to either anymore in the early mornings.  I will in the Summer months when I get days off in a row.  I intend to do a lot of camping on these lakes this Summer. The move over to the Cherokee Lake area and the purchase of this property I never wanted took a lot of time away from my meanderings.  Next year should be wide open for exploration.
I don't see any cars back here yet or even hear an engine.  Nope;  no traffic at all.  I despise all that clutter of life.  Despise it!  I'm not seeing any critters either. 
Then I saw a familiar sight.  I forgot all about the possibility of running into ice.  Foolish me.
Abrams is at the base of the mountains and evidently had experienced repetitive cold days and nights.  I wouldn't be able to penetrate the ice and therefore reaching the mouth of Abrams Creek was out for this trip.
The wrong place and time to upset in a canoe
We would have to paddle back down stream and check out Panther Creek.  It should be frozen over also.  There would be more ice on Panther as the water isn't as deep as Abrams.
I wanted this day to be alone without anyone or even the company of my dogs.  But, I miss them. I can't have it all at the same time.  They would be there when I got back.  It's just that a dog adds so much more to an outing.  Falcor has been acting strangely around me for the past week and it's been wearing me down.  I needed to get away from him for awhile and think about what I need to do to handle his disobedience.  He will not come when called anymore.  It's not a problem with him.  It's a problem with me.  I've done something that has changed his perfect obedience to one of my frustration.  I'm working on it.
That white in the distance is ice at the mouth of Panther Creek
The sun highlights the mist over the ice
The ice makes very loud sounds as it splits and breaks apart.  Imagine tree limbs being broken in half.  That is the sounds I am hearing.  It's nothing but the ice being disintegrated by the warmth of the sun.  The sound is constant.  At first I thought the noise was being made by a large critter walking across the mountain close to the lake.
I'll paddle down the channel on the left side going back.
Then a familiar place on the left bank came into view and memories of a wonderful day came to mind.
Douglas and I stopped here for a rest one day while paddling the Champlain.  It was a great, great day.  I'll never forget it. We've been back many times.  He immediately started chasing squirrels;  his favorite pastime.  The recent tornadoes have wreaked havoc to the mountain but spared the little landing site we used back then.
I remember feeling bad because I was sitting there on a log writing in my journal and he was being as patient as he could, all the while wanting to explore.  I couldn't deny him.  We bushwhacked straight up the mountain behind us and he was in his element.
Douglas went straight up that mountain and resembled a shaft of golden light.  That boy could power up hills!  I remember blasting right along behind him and feeling great.  I didn't get tired or out of breath the whole way to the top.  But, he was standing above me looking down from the summit as if to say;  "you coming dad?"  Maybe he's looking down at me now and thinking the same thing.  There's nowhere I can go in this part of the country in the time frames I have that he and I haven't shared time together.  I always recognize a place we were together and I get emotional, just like now.  I miss him so very badly.  "I hope your safe and warm golden boy.  I miss you."
The big tree in the middle was Douglas's favorite tree.  He would sit at the base and stare endlessly up into the branches.
That dog took a big piece of me with him when he left.  I guess that means I'm still with him.  If you allow them to have your heart;  they will end up taking your soul too.
The exact same view that Douglas and I had when we shared a day on the water together one day long ago
It was getting late in the day and the drive is a long one back to happy land so I better get paddling.  I miss my little family and I know they are looking out the living room window for the red truck to come back.  It's been a great day.  A great day!
I bought the kids toys on the way home because I felt sort of greedy with my time today not taking any of them with me.  Falcor acted like the puppy he is with his new ball.  I need him to start listening to me though.  He has to.  Thank you for your interest in the blog.  I promise many exciting outings in the future.  Check out the kids playing below:

Try one at a time Happy
Sneaky Chestnut!
Go little girl!
The pretty boy!  So pretty he should have been a girl.
 Shade took her piece of rope to the woods so she's not in the group for pictures.  She's a sweetheart too.  See ya......