Tuesday, May 1, 2012


click on photos to enlarge

The experiences Sunday on Douglas Lake set me up for a down day today.  I was on Muddy Creek Sunday which flows into Douglas Lake.  There was a bass tournament in progress consisting of about 200 bass boats.  They, combined with the Sunday onslaught of pleasure boats and jet skis turned the water into a free for all with ocean size wakes.  It was impossible for me to approach close to fishing boats for fear of being pushed into them by high water from wakes.  My head swiveled left and right constantly trying to keep track of speedy craft buzzing around from all sides.  It was an interesting day to say the least.  Monday was a reprieve from all that mess.  I worked on land at the Wildlife Management Area at Buffalo Springs.  I love my job and I love being on the lake doing my "job" (through the week)  but, I'll never take my personal boat on either Cherokee or Douglas lake for personal enjoyment.  Yep - I'm still the happiest man alive!  Its just that some people like to kick back on the sofa and catch the game to relax or go to the movies with the kids.  Maybe dinner out is on the agenda to unwind.  Not for me!  I need to be away from people.  I need birds, and seclusion.  I need room to hike and to hear nothing but the wind. I need to cruise down a lake and not see the litter of houses on the shoreline messing up the view.   Its impossible here. My off time is sure lacking over here and its starting to get to me because there is nowhere to get away from the hassle of interstates, traffic, engine noise, passing trucks, the unending succession of sheriff deputy cars and the inability to find a few square feet to beach a boat on the shoreline to take a piss.  I'm considering taking out a personal loan to borrow enough money to buy gas through the Summer so I can continue my weekly travels to the west lakes and adjacent mountains.  I think I can pay it off through the winter months.  Its a yoke I can bear, I'm sure.

On a lighter note - the photos below are of the inside of my garage.  The camera battery is very low so I didn't use a flash.
I have been leaving the garage door up a little so old Sigh doesn't have to struggle through the dog door.  Bear with me cause this is cool.
Above is a shot of my two tool boxes.  Note the Alpo dog food sitting on top.
Here is a good shot of the Alpo box with cans in it.  I keep this soft food as an adjunct to the Taste of the Wild dry food for Sigh.  But, look closer.
A bird has built a nest in the Alpo box.  A little bird has been coming under the open garage door bringing leaves and string to the Alpo box with the cans of Alpo still inside it that sits on top of my tool box in my garage where old Sigh sleeps.  This just happened today as I fed Sigh last night and haven't returned to the Alpo box until tonight at 6PM.  The nest has been built today.  Well now, this complicates life here in the country.  I can't put the garage door down until the babies are grown and gone - I have to assure that Homer cat doesn't go to the garage area and hopefully I won't need to use my tools for a couple weeks.  Pretty cool stuff.  I'd guess carolina wrens are at the bottom of this.
Poor old Sigh is in the shot above.  The old lady, sorrowfully, is ready to lay down.  She is so tired.  Note that she walks on the tops of her rear feet.  She has nerve damage in both her back legs.  I need to do what needs to be done but am a coward.  I respect this old hound and all she's been through.
I watched her this afternoon laying in the grass in the sun.  This great hound who was once vital and has given me so many happy moments and brought smiles to my face through her antics is now reduced to a state of near immobility.  She spends her time in the garage sleeping and the fence around the back of the house holds her spirit in.  I know it is her time but, she looks at my face with those trusting eyes and I find it unbearable to forsake that trust.  It is my burden to carry.
As previously mentioned, Shade and I were on Muddy Creek Sunday performing our duties for TWRA.  I have never traveled the entire length of the creek due to the low water levels over winter.  The water is back now and we would be able to travel not only the length of Muddy Creek but, all the tributaries that branch off it left and right.  Muddy Creek heads straight towards the mountains and I thought we could finally find some wilderness places on the shoreline.  The shot above held promise. 
Things were looking good so far.
We went around the first bend in the creek and there it was.  Yep - humans are here.  Shore litter was everywhere on this creek.  There is no place that isn't owned by someone.  That's a heck of a house in the above shot.  He must have about 14 kids to need that place.  Walmart could use that as a store.    Its a great house really.   But, why does it have to be right on the water where wilderness should be?  Why?   Why isn't there some area of the lake that is set aside for lake wildlife?  There is nothing here.  Nothing!  Its all owned.
 There is a house behind those trees in the above shot.  I stopped taking pictures of houses.  I'll just forget wildlife photography on Douglas.
I no sooner said that when a loon appeared about 25 yards off the side of the boat.  He was posing and I didn't have the 500 mm lens.  All I had was the D990 Elph.  The loon would not dive or fly.  This would have been THE moment for the most fantastic shot.  Loons are the hardest to photograph.  He is in his winter plumage.  
I didn't take many more pictures as I was disappointed in Muddy Creek.  I can find no saving grace for this lake.
Houses are stacked upon each other by owners who just have to be on the water. They are jammed together so close there is no room to move on one's own property.  People are weird! Litter!  I bet the real estate sales people needed wheelbarrows to get the money to the bank- at the expense of East Tennessee's wild places.

I stayed busy talking to fishermen and the time went quickly.  The skiers blasted by continuously and the jet skis plagued the fishing boats but we all got through the day.
Back and forth they went - upstream and down - over and over - wake after wake.
The guy below caught a largemouth bass as I was pulling up to him.  He was just getting ready to quit fishing due to the pleasure boats.

The boat ramp was blocked by two trailers loaded with jet ski's.  People are supposed to prepare to launch in the parking lot.  Launching should take no longer than 5 minutes max to accomplish.  These people were sitting on the ramp at water's edge passing colorful inner tubes back and forth and transferring ice boxes from truck to jet ski. The guy on the left was strapping down his boat and carrying tackle boxes and rods to his truck.  People are amazing!

 I waited ten minutes with about 9 other boats for them to get out of the way.  I saw a spot where I could get the state boat on the boat ramp and went for it.  I drove it right up onto the concrete beside the jet skis.  I notified them they were holding up ingress and regress to the lake by parking here.  They saw my uniform and instantly took action.  I did inform them to be considerate of others on the water  and those desiring to get on the water.   It was all about them.  No one else existed in their world but them.  I backed down and got my boat and went home.  I've had enough of Douglas Lake for one day.

Fast forward to today.

I thought I'd try out the tail race of Douglas Dam.  I like rivers.   Shade and I took the Gheenoe to the river and launched.  Things looked promising.  It seemed we couldn't get out of water that was only 1.5 to 3 feet deep.  I went from one side of the river to the other and 4 feet was the best we could find.  Then, crunch!  We were only going at idle speed thank heaven.  We hit rock with the propeller.  We're outa here.  Note the angle of the trailer to the water below.

I ran the Gheenoe up onto the trailer and it slid back into the water.  The incline was too steep. Only the bow of the boat could run up the bunks.  The tail end of the boat was in the water.  The middle portion was out of the water.  This is nuts.  I tried six attempts to get it on the trailer.  I finally ran it onto the trailer bunks and left the engine engaged with the prop turning to keep power to the boat thereby holding it in place on the bunks until I could creep forward and hook up the bow strap to the bow eye to hold the Gheenoe secure to the trailer.  What a mess!
Once out of the drink - I ran back to inspect the prop.  

I always carry a spare prop and a change out took no time at all.  This river is a crap river just like Douglas Lake and all the water associated with it.  I've been running that Gheenoe since 2008 and have never touched that prop on a stone.  One run on this crap river and its ruined.  
It was three PM and I wasn't happy.  I headed west.  It was late but I had to head west.  You can kick back on the couch and grab a beer.  Maybe you can run out to dinner.  I need to get out of Dodge, away from the crazies, away from cars and this crap water I'm surrounded by.  I need seclusion.  So, to Tellico Lake we went.

I was in such a rush to get the Gheenoe into the water at Tellico Lake that I forgot to put the plug in the boat.  The stream of water above is the bilge pump throwing the water out of the boat faster, hopefully, than it is entering.  It was an easy job of simply inserting the plug from the  inside of the boat.  No big deal.
It was great to be on beautiful water.  This is a real lake - a beautiful lake.  There are no houses on this end, the mountain end, of the lake.  I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders.

The wind felt good.  I wanted to revisit the old stump fields.  It would be idle speed but I didn't care.  The stump fields were interesting.

A familiar sight came into view.  It was the old boat ramp that Douglas and I used to stop at.  He would play in the water while I would write in my journal.  Those were good times.  They were times that I hold precious.  They were times when Douglas was my sunshine.  Now its Shade.  She is trying hard to be my sunshine and she has accomplished her task.  But, Douglas is my precious memory.  Shade has no reason to worry about being my favorite.  She is without a doubt.  But, Douglas was the prince of my life and that can't change.

We cruised along the shoreline of islands, slowly weaving among the stumps.  There were some birds playing near the water's edge.  Black birds and grackles aren't the most glamorous birds but they belong here and they do interesting things too.

 This bird has the look of a terrorist.
"Darling, you have such beautiful eyes.  Eyes that look into my soul."
 Above:  "Look - get out a here and let me be.  What's your problem?"

 Above and below:  He picked up or turned over everything he could to find the insects and tiny worms that hid beneath the debris.
Look at the little guy in the next shot.  Cute.
 Goldfinches and Prothonatary Warblers were abundant.

I sure needed this time on the lake.  Chilhowee Lake was only a couple miles up the road but I couldn't wait.  I thought about Citico Creek which is on the far shore of this lake but, I will save it for a canoe ride in the future.  All in all it's a great day.  It required a lot of running around though but, worth it.

This is a beautiful lake.  What a contrast to the rock and mud, people infested lakes east of here!
We headed for the boat ramp.  Shade would like to swim and have some time rolling in the grass.  Then we would be off to the interstate for the casual, enjoyable drive home.  Oh boy!

I made it through the day with the help of Shade and Tellico Lake.  I have been taking stock of my camping stuff this past week, so a camping trip on Calderwood is coming up.  I'm really looking forward to sitting for hours in Slick Rock Creek.  See ya later.