Thursday, May 10, 2012

A RIDE UP THE NOLICHUCKY & FRENCH BROAD RIVERS

click on photos to enlarge photos
Shade and I pulled into the parking lot at Walters Bridge on the French Broad River.  We would take a ride upstream to see what the Nolichucky River was all about.



The clouds in the sky appeared to be 3 dimensional.  They were dazzling.  
We casually headed upstream toward the river's mouth.  No hurry today.  There was a gentle breeze and everything smelled sweet.  I was excited to see just what the Nolichucky was like.


It sure is pretty way up here.  The mouth of the Nolichucky River would be appearing on our left pretty quickly.  We had 17 feet of water under the boat at this point in the trip.  We were still out in the main channel.  That's not a lot of water.  I hope the Nolichucky had enough water to float us.  The Gheenoe will float in 6 inches of water but, I'm in no hurry to put that ability to the test.
 A group of cormorants are perched on an old dead tree.  They remind me of teenagers hanging out on a street corner.

As I stated in the last entry - their legs are placed well back on their body almost making their appendages useless on dry land.  They still can perch in trees.  The loon, however, can not function on land at all.  Their legs have evolved even further back than the cormorant's legs. They are destined to spend practically their entire lives in the water or on nests very close to the water.
The Nolichucky empties into an wide expanse of water that joins the main channel of the French Broad River.  I call it a bay area.  At the back of this bay is a more narrow opening which is the Nolichucky.


The river lays dead ahead.



I've been looking at this river as a possible canoe paddling river.  So far it looks good.  The current is a bit quick to paddle against but it can be done.  If a wind were to blow against a paddler I'm afraid the wind combined with the current would prove insurmountable.  I'll have to really investigate this river before I come here with a canoe.  I'd hate to paddle down a waterway and not be able to paddle back up.  There are no roads up here to operate a shuttle operation.  Shuttle isn't a word in my vocabulary anyhow.  I do everything alone these days.


Shade was showing signs of needing to be on shore.  We would pull over in about fifteen minutes.  We would be about a mile and a half up the Nolichucky by that time.  I saw a sweet place to tie off at and we went across the river to beach the Gheenoe.

The Gheenoe was really made for this kind of water.  She's a river boat through and through.  The sleek design and ability to run in shallow water makes it a superior vessel for river running.
We have been in 2.5 to 3 feet of water since we entered this area.  That's perfect for this boat and motor.  Rocks are another factor, however.  This river has a mud bottom down on this end of it.  




I sat on a log while Shade ran up and down the shoreline swimming and rolling in the green grass.  She was having a great time.  It made me happy to watch her.
Thirty minutes passed and I wanted to try to go further upstream.  We are off again.



We went upstream about 200 yards and ran into only 1 foot of water depth.  It may have been a mud bar or a large hump that extended across the river.  I don't know.  But, I didn't want to push our luck.  We turned around and headed back to the river mouth.  Once at the mouth of the Nolichucky we would turn left and head upstream on the French Broad River to the Rankin bridge for a second rest.



































An osprey nest appeared on our left and a pair of ospreys were home.

Remember what I said about Wildlife photography in the last entry.  "Anticipate the action."



These are powerful birds in flight.  I'd like to watch an osprey or a bald eagle in slow motion when they launch from their nests.

He continually flew over the boat.  It was plain he didn't want me near his next.  I took a few more shots and moved on.





I took the above shots and left him alone.
The Rankin bridge was dead ahead and the wind was really up creating some rough water.  We'd get some land time at the boat ramp and head back to the truck.
Wow - it got rough fast.  A canoe up here would be chancy I think.  I'll think about it.

We made it back to Walters bridge in quick time.  I remembered the route that avoided the shallow water.  It was a nice day and time well spent.  We didn't run into many wild critters but I'm sure they're there.  The lake is still a couple feet low and hopefully will be allowed to have the additional two feet.  That will raise the level to about three feet up the Nolichucky where we were.   Its all just a temporary situation anyhow.  The lake is drained in the Fall and it turns into a mud hole again.  I'm not getting excited about the Nolichucky in the least.  Its just an interesting river to be on, and a temporary one at that.  See ya next time.