Sunday, March 11, 2012

DAY OF SLOTH ON CHILHOWEE LAKE

click photos to enlarge
I had plans to go with a friend on a motorcycle ride today but, the morning was very cold despite the bright sun.  After a discussion about it we decided to scrap that plan and wait for a warmer day.  I thought it would be nice to do something that requires no plan or preparation.  Actually, everything I do requires very little planning and preparation.

I later found out that today's conditions were perfect for a canoe paddle on Chilhowee or Calderwood Lakes.  Shade and I left home late in the morning with the Gheenoe instead.  The canoe requires a bit more equipment and detailed thinking and I wasn't in the mood for thinking today.  It was just one of those days.

The water was gorgeous on Chilhowee.  It was glass smooth in some places and just a tiny bit of riffle in others.  No matter - there will be many more days for the canoe.


We left the ramp and headed for Abrams Creek to see if we could spot any wildlife.  Its been a long time since I've photographed any critters on that creek.  I believe the tornado that drove up that water upset the daily scheme of critter activity.
The mountain sides are a total mess with blown down trees.  That twister did a good job of making this territory impassable for hiking.  Maybe that's not so bad.  I heard on the news that three boaters, two kayaks and one canoe, turned up missing back here for two days.  The park rangers were dispatched.  The news reported that both kayaks were upset, one of them twice.  I couldn't imagine how anyone could get stuck back Abrams Creek for two days.  I talked to a fisherman at the boat ramp about it.  The three entrepreneurs didn't enter Abrams Creek from the lake.  They entered the creek below the campground back in the mountain thinking the water would carry them all the way down the mountain to this channel that leads out onto Chilhowee Lake.  They should have done more homework on the subject.  In short - ain't no way!  Anyhow, they abandoned their boats and walked back up the stream to Abrams Creek Campground.      It took them two days.  This proves out my opinion that citifites should keep to the town ponds unless they have some common sense and acquire some outdoor skills.  These mountains and lakes will show no mercy to the uninformed.  Its fun to enjoy the outdoors but, these waters and mountains are nothing for the unskilled to toy with.
Look what that twister did to this mountain.  The power of it is unimaginable.
A couple kayaks appeared ahead.
 It was refreshing to note that they were paddling without talking loudly.  Nice!  I've always wanted to try paddling one of those but, never had the opportunity to try it out.  I somehow think it would be tiring to have to hold the paddle out in front of me while constantly dipping the paddle blade into the water with that left, right cadence.  I don't know.  I can't criticize it until I experience kayak paddling myself.  I am so used to a canoe that I have a tendency to reject any other form of paddling.  That's short minded, I know.  But, I guess I just gravitate toward what I feel comfortable with and understand.  I love my canoes.
The shoreline is a real mess.  I guess Maw Nature will sort it all out in good time.
Finding wild critters back here was going to be useless.  There were too many people on the creek and the Gheenoe motor would announce my presence long before I could lay eyes on any unsuspecting resident.  I turned the boat around to head for the main lake when I came upon a man and woman in a Old Town canoe.  We chatted awhile.  They were very nice folks and I enjoyed the moments with them.  Every now and again, I run into the nicest people out here on the water.  The conversation was welcomed.  I'm sure we will meet again.  Look at the tiny, little furry head sticking up between the two paddlers.

We're out of here!

The main lake was beautiful, as always.

We headed up the lake to Scona.  There was no particular reason to go there really.  Its a beautiful spot to lounge around at.  I just wanted to sit around on the shoreline and kick back a bit.
That hollar behind those three vertical trees leads to the old Gibson place.
We passed the ferry landing and turned back the way we came to cruise along the shoreline.  I wanted to look into the thickets to see if there was anything obvious worth investigating.  There wasn't.

I did notice, however, a very thick growth of bamboo.  It was growing on what used to be the golf course.  This is a fairly thick stand of growth.  Old Scona Lodge is full of surprises.  Kudzu, bamboo and hopefully not - a crocodile or two.
We pulled around the point that lays past the ferry landing and put in on the quiet shoreline there.
Shade and I sat around for about half an hour and we both got antsy for a hike.  I decided to climb back up what I call "Annes Mountain."   We crossed the old patio on the way and I scratched the dirt away from a spot to see if the patio floor tiles were still there.  They were.
I have so many pictures of this particular spot at Scona.  Its where the little wooden footbridge went across the creek.  I like it here.  Its quiet and peaceful.  I'm glad to see no one has stolen the patio tiles - yet.

Up the mountain we went.  I tried to watch in front and to the sides of Shade for snakes.  I doubted we would be troubled with them up this trail but, it was certainly warm enough for them to be out and about.
This country is rugged.  Above is a little point high up on the mountain where one can see for miles.  It also is a straight down drop-off.  
You can see a little ledge in the shot above.  This would have been a great spot to gaze down at Scona Lodge from.  I had to keep an eye on Shade as she continually walked right on the edge of these little flats.  One slip and she would plummet two hundred feet straight down.  I guess I worry too much about her.  Shes got four good legs to my two old ones.  But, I have the hands to hold on with and she doesn't.
It sure is pretty up here.  "This is the spot Mary.  This is where we'll build our cabin and have our children.  And, over there's where we'll plant our cotton."     I just had to throw that in there.  It seemed to fit the moment.
But, one can see forever from this vantage point.

I was actually looking for something specific up here.  It belongs to Anne Hutchison.  I've searched and searched many times and can't turn it up.  The decades have changed this mountain since it was left up here. It was time to start down and return to the boat.  I wanted to drive upriver to photograph the old Alcoa power house.  The original building is still in use.

The old trout pond lays beyond that cut out in the above shot.  The cut out is the pond overflow.  A wooden bridge spanned the overflow opening back in the day.  There is a hefty flow of water coming through the overflow and the water in the pond is high.  Interesting.  I guess the stream that feeds the pond at its rear is swelled with water from recent rains.
As we drove on upstream - a familiar island appeared.  I call it "Shade's Island."  This is where I found a black lab standing at the edge of the woods at midnight seven years ago.  She resembled a washed out river rat.  The lost dog was covered with ticks and looked at Douglas and I with apprehension.  Her family, human, removed her collar with her name tag and put her out on this island and drove away.   The lab stood and waited on that spot for them to return for her.  But, they weren't coming.  Into my boat she came and we were off for home and a vet visit in the morning.  That was seven years ago and Shade has been a blessing to me ever since.  I love her.
I'd like to meet the folks who left her here.  Oh, not for any kind of revenge or malice.  I would like to know why they went to the trouble of driving her way out here in a boat to leave her.  They could have just dropped her off at the forest or the edge of town.  Its almost as if they didn't want to give her the slightest chance to survive.  Its a long way to the mainland from this island.  I don't know if Shade would have tried to make it or not.  No matter now I guess.  She is safe.
Oh, Wow!  Look at the size of that baby!  Gotta be very careful from this island up to the powerhouse.  That thing is the size of a house!


Below is the old, original Alcoa powerhouse.  Its the same one that was built when Calderwood Dam was built.






That's about it for this little outing.  Its been a great day doing nothing.  The trip back to the boat ramp was delightful.  Its time to get up to Calderwood Lake and I believe next week may have a couple days available for that little trip.  We may do some camping up there.  Hope you enjoyed the slothful day with us.  See ya next time.


"Goodnight Douglas."