Saturday, July 14, 2012


click photos to enlarge
I started the day by driving clear to the Rankin boat ramp on the French Broad River to launch the canoe. I was dying for a paddle ride. When I got there the scene turned me off so bad I just drove home without taking the boat off the trailer. The water is very low and very muddy.
Everything was just plain ugly. All that rain we received over the past three days did nothing to increase the depth or flow of the lake. The banks were mud and I didn't feel like extending a ladder over the edge in order to climb down to the water. This lake is useless for anything but fishing.

If somebody would have been available with some cash this morning I would have sold the kevlar canoe and the trailer both for $2000. May as well - I don't have anyplace to use it. The canoe alone was $3000 but, I'd have let it all go. Disgusting place!
I blasted home and decided to take the girls up to the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for some much needed exercise. I piled all three in the front seat and off we went.
The sun suddenly appeared and heated things up. I headed down to the creek that flows out of the TWRA fish hatchery. Without the creek it would be too hot for the dogs.
Chestnut immediately ran to the fish ponds at the hatchery. The outflow was where I wanted then to eventually end up.
Shade knew where to go and she wasn't wasting any time getting there.

The water was ice cold and she was in heaven. She's a beautiful girl. The other guys got in on the water games also. They were panting very loudly and I could see they needed water.

I never saw a hound love water as much as Chestnut. I guess she learned from hanging around Shade.

I'm proud of that little dog. She has been very shy and withdrawn since a puppy. She was and still is afraid of everything. Even a hopping toad can drive her to the house. But she is at ease when with us and it is so enlightening to see her happy and running on the wind. I am fortunate to have these three incredible friends.

"Come on, come on Chestnut!"

We walked a loop around the WMA and ended back at the truck. It was a nice couple hours. It's dull for me as there isn't anything new to discover but for them its a slice of heaven. That's all that really matters. This year over here without hiking has taken a toll on me. I feel like I walked twenty miles. A year ago I could go sun up till sun down. I hope I did the right thing moving here. It certainly is a different lifestyle - not an advantageous one.
We piled into the truck and watched a storm move onto Cherokee Lake as we turned down the road toward home. I felt something crawling on my wrist. It was a tick. I picked it off and tossed it out the window. I appreciate everything in the wilds - accept ticks. Those despicable creatures are nothing but trouble.
At home, I grabbed a cold drink and sat in the rocker on the porch and watched the lightning and listened to the distant thunder. I wondered if it would rain tonight. Then I felt another little movement near my watch on my left wrist. Another tick was moving along the watch band on my skin. The little devil!
He either sensed the perspiration on the watch band or simply had to negotiate his way over the band in order to continue his travels up my arm.
I don't think he was satisfied being on the watch band. He was on a mission and that was to find something to eat. He continued on his travels.

Shortly after the shot above, he stopped and proceeded to settle in for dinner. At this point he was an unwanted guest. I picked him off and tossed him an a sheet of white paper.

Ticks drink blood by drilling a hole through the skin and inserting a probe, a hypos-tome, through the hole and injecting an anticoagulant. Blood is the only source of nutrients required for its entire life. They're life cycles are complex but interesting to read about.

I watched him crawl in all directions. He had no particular place or direction of interest. Then, I put my finger on the paper about four inches away from him and he instantly changed direction and headed straight toward my finger. I moved my finger to the extreme edge of the paper and he immediately ran directly at it. The little bugger could detect the presence of warmth, I'm guessing, from eight inches away. Amazing! I flipped him over on his back just for fun.

He righted himself after much struggling. So, here's how he sensed my finger on the paper:

Their bodies are hard and they have 8 legs. Its interesting to note that the two front legs have sensory abilities (organs) that allow the tick to feel temperature changes and odors. Isn't that amazing? It isn't necessary for them to patiently wait on a leaf or tall blade of grass for a passerby to brush against the plant and pick him up. The tick can sense the coming of his potential host from great distances and can prepare himself for attachment to the host in advance. Incredible! They are an interesting creature but a more foul beast there are none. For more information about ticks, check Wikipedia or some of the many tick sites on the web.

Ticks are prevalent in the low elevations of Tennessee. I have not had tick issues when camping in the mountains. I believe they need moisture and humidity to survive. The high elevations have unreliable temperatures that are not constant in moisture content whereas the lake shorelines and woods in the meadow areas provides prime conditions for tick colonization.
So, that's it for this little entry. The day wasn't a total loss but a disappointment. I am really disappointed in the lake situation over here. Its a shame the folks in this part of East Tennessee didn't take more care of their wild places that are now gone forever. They can never get them back. I hope they all made a good profit on that deal.