Friday, August 17, 2012

BEECH CREEK & BEYOND

Click on photos to enlarge
The canoe glided silently as if it were a floating dried leaf opon the water.  Not a whisper nor any sound at its passing - a shadow in the shadows.  Even Mother Nature would approve of its presence.

I mentioned Beech Creek yesterday in an entry and today I'm here to paddle it in the Attikamek.  I actually arrived here early in the morning for a change.  As you can see in the photos, the stabilizers were installed for this paddle due to fear of capsizing and losing my precious cameras.  The pontoons don't touch the water but are there if the canoe is leaned too far left or right.  Its a comfort not to have to even consider the possibility of capsizing.


The creek is narrow but deep.  There is a heavy growth of water grasses on both sides.  The grass provides a fantastic habitat for fish and other mammals like muskrats and beaver.  Turtles are prolific here.  They can be seen sunning themselves on almost every log.  They are, however, wary  and difficult to approach.  I began experimenting on different approaches to them to see if I could slip up close.  They didn't cooperate well.

I named this guy Mr. Cheerie, for obvious reasons.  I think he's a Democrat cause he looks like Harry Reed.







This little waterway is indeed beautiful.  The greens are the greenest I've seen.  Bright flowers are abundant.  The day was hot and I didn't really count on seeing much wildlife.  My old friends the green herons are here in great numbers, living among the cat tails.  This is a quiet meadow creek lacking the rushing fast water prevalent in mountain streams.  The current was so slow that I couldn't detect it at times.  I withdrew the paddle from the water to assure myself that there really was a current.


I had gone a half mile and still no houses.  This portion of creek is bordered by a huge, old farm.  The land is well cared for and is beautiful.  A superb wooden fence keeps the cattle out of the stream.  The folks I met two days ago up here said there were a few houses about two miles up but they weren't near the water and were older structures.
 A muskrat swam in front of the canoe and I didn't have the camera ready.  That won't happen again.
 I really needed to get away from the big muddy lake for a change and this canoe paddle trip is certainly the answer.  No people, no boat motors and no wakes.  All I can hear are green herons croaking, crows and the occasional red tailed hawk.
This would be a perfect body of water to assign "no motor" regulations on.  Tennessee doesn't do that for some reason.  Pennsylvania, where I'm from, has many, many streams and large ponds designated "no motor" waters.  It maintains a more primitive feel and look to the area.  The overall experience of being on pristine water is exemplified, even though the waterway isn't really primitive.  Above all, quiet is maintained and nasty wakes caused by uncaring or exuberant boat drivers are eliminated.




The shot at left shows the relationship of the stabilizer pontoon to the water.






There are obstructions on the water ahead.  They're nothing.  This canoe will pass through.
The creek has taken on a new look as it passes from the meadow and enters the forested area.  The trees join above the little creek and form a canopy.  The light is blocked for the most part but creates strange reflections on the water where it penetrates through.




















Above:  A tree has fallen across the creek and appears to have blocked passage.  Closer inspection reveals a narrow channel just wide enough for the canoe to pass.  I'll try it.

Not a problem.  The boat went right through.
Hunger strikes!  I needed to kick back for a while anyhow.  Struggling through the wilds in a canoe  in't easy, you know.  The shot below gives you a hint of the constant battle with the elements I sometimes endure.  Its not easy but, someone's got to do it:
Lets see whats in the cooler.  Subway cold cut twelve incher.  Perfect.
I was about three miles up this little creek and the water depth finally dropped to about a foot.  I thought it prudent to return down stream.  I wanted to continue downstream to the Holston River and beyond.  
  I have a lot more pictures of the upper end of the creek and many appear repetitious.  So, we'll start back down.   I passed a lot of flowers on the way up here, and a lot of turtles.  I need to get my turtle book out but haven't the time just this moment.  Turtleology is an interesting pastime.
As the canoe left the forest canopy and re entered the grass and cat tail covered shorelines - turtles and more became common sights.

I was getting close to the put in by this time.  The Holston River lay a mile down stream from there.
Anything is fair game when I have a camera in my hand.


Now, just what do we have here?  A little head pops up to peer over the top of the grass.  It is a green heron.  They are everywhere but, a challenge to photograph in this tall grass and cat tails.
 Look how far their necks can be elongated.
There were actually two green herons in that grass.  The one on the bottom is searching for the location of the one on the top.  They took flight simultaneously and collided in mid air while squabbling and making croaking sounds.  I bet I'm the only person in the world to photograph two green herons colliding in mid air.'



I watched another green heron who was hunting.  I had hoped to see him catch dinner.  He did but he had his back toward me.  I did see him reach down with his long neck extended and pick up a bug of some sort.  They are really neat birds to watch.





Gotta love herons.  I was coming up on the bridge that crosses the creek.  From there it is a mile to the main river - the Holston.






Huey, Dewey and Louie

I finally got to the Holston River.  Down stream was where the John Sevier Steam plant was.  Its a long, long paddle ride.  I have been in the canoe six hours straight at this point.  Whew!

Below:  The Holston River.  Its a big place.

That steam plant was nowhere in sight.  I put the power to it and paddled as hard as I could to cover water.  The plant came into view.  That place is huge.


I'm not taking this canoe down there.  It doesn't even seem legal to go near that place.  I'll turn it around and head back.  If there's a 300 acre pond down there it will have to wait till I'm in an official boat.  I was tired when I got back to the truck.  This was a great day but a strenuous one.  
Did all that stuff come out of my canoe?  Well, a guy needs stuff.
I've got a lot more pictures but the satellite system takes four times longer to upload pictures to the site than does cable.  I think there are enough photographs up there to paint a fairly vivid picture of what the creek and river look like.  Hope you enjoyed the paddle ride.