Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SHORTEST CAMP OUT EVER!

Shade won't go down the trail.  She follows reluctantly and absolutely will not proceed ahead of me.  I trust her intuition and we returned to the tent site.

We arrived at Calderwood lake mid afternoon.  There was no one there.  Not one truck or car was in the parking lot.  The air was stifling, even up here on this mountain lake.  My clothes were becoming soaked.  I motored to the hill side camp spot and found it covered with downed trees.  there must have been some serious wind on this lake recently.  We turned the boat and headed to Slick Rock Creek.  I wanted to stay on the hill side spot because I can see up and down the lake from there.  Beaver, otter and wood ducks could be observed from that vantage point before they would be aware of our presence.  No luck.  Slick rock Creek would do.


Its great to be on Calderwood Lake.  This is how a lake should look.  That shoreline is primitive and pristine.  It is a man made lake, a reservoir, but its a sweet piece of water.  The white lines against the left shoreline is fog.  It comes and goes all day long due to the hot, moisture laden air contacting the very cold water.  These pictures are all taken with the Canon SD990 and may show some lack of crispness due to the overcast, dark day.  The SD990 does not allow much control over shutter adjustment.  As I said earlier - high winds on the lake have uprooted many trees along the water.  I have not seen this happen up here in the 8 years I've been frequenting this lake.  I'm glad I wasn't camping during that wind.



This group of trees was blown over and their roots actually peeled back the shoreline they were anchored to.  I wonder how a tent would fare in wind that strong.
The channel leading up to Slick Rock Creek is not a deep one and its necessary to stay over to the left side of it.


The water was deep enough to float the Gheenoe over the rocky bottom without touching.  I usually use a sea anchor back here but I can tie the boat to a tree.






The creek was simply lovely and its always so green back here.

I had the tent up in 30 seconds.  Yes, I said 30 seconds.  It took longer to pull it out of its encasement than it did to erect it.  It is an Australian Oz Tent and incorporates an internal frame that the fabric is attached to.  The thing is slick!  I have a detailed review on this tent else-ware on this blog.  Its biggest down-fall is its large size when rolled up.  She's a big one to stow on a boat.
 I keep the ground cloth, above, rolled and strapped into a neat little package.
The tent, above, is unzipped from its case, pulled out and laid onto the ground cloth. 



The legs of the tent will be pulled out left and right and the floor of the tent will be that shiny part laying on the ground cloth.

All that is necessary now is to step onto the floor of the tent, the smooth section behind the "A" looking section, grab the tent where the top of the "A" is formed and pick it up.  The tent swings up over you,  locks open and is erected.  Simply push the locks down on the vertical frame pieces inside the tent, one second, and the tent is fully ready for live in.  It truly goes up in under 30 seconds.  This is a wonderful feature if the storm is upon you.


Shade instantly entered the tent and made herself at home.  Its ok as I carry a light weight ground cloth to lay on top the floor of the tent for just that purpose.  I hate those logs that the Forest Service lays down to outline tent spots.  I know they want tents to be placed in the same locations at all times and the shredded, treated tree bark covering the tent space keeps weeds from taking over the sight but, the enclosures are very small.  In actuality, they are unnecessary as there is nowhere else that a tent will fit on that shoreline.  Calderwood Lake has very few flat spots that will accommodate a tent.   One is forced to use the same flat spot all the time whether logs outline the site or not.  I just don't like being directed what to do out here.  These sites weren't here six or seven years ago.

The camp was set and I grabbed a shoulder bag and took off up the trail that follows the creek.  The humidity was intense.  This is very unusual for Calderwood Lake.  I've never experienced humidity like this.  My clothes were totally soaked.  Shade kept looking up the trail and was reluctant to proceed, following behind me.  She sat down and wouldn't move forward.  I walked to the water and threw a stick in for her to swim to.  She walked down beside me but wouldn't swim.  She was very uneasy about moving up the trail.

I've learned that dogs see, hear and smell everything.  I've also learned to trust their judgement in such matters.  There was something up the trail that Shade did not want to confront, some smell, some noise I couldn't hear, something out of the ordinary that she wasn't familiar with.  I turned and walked from the stream toward the trail and Shade loped up to the trail and jogged back toward the camp.  This is very unusual and I followed her back.  The stream would be there tomorrow.  It was getting late anyway and the sun would start falling in about three hours.


This area is probably the wildest area one can find in the state of Tennessee, discounting the National Park, and contains a good representation of wildlife indigenous to the state.  There is a heavy population of black bear and wild boar present due to the endless mountainous habitat.  I suspect that Shade acquired the scent of one of those species and being new to her, created an uneasiness within her.  

We got back to the tent and I assembled my favorite chair, sat down and started to write in my journal.   A gentle rain started to fall and a breeze wafted past me instantly cooling me down.  Shade was laying inside the tent.  What is with her?
I glanced up from writing and noticed that things were looking a bit different.  I couldn't put my finger on it right away but, finally figured it out.  There were rocks sticking out of the water that I didn't see when I pulled the boat into this cove.  If you look at the shoreline in the photo above, you'll see that the water has lowered.  The water level is dropping while I sit here.  I ran down to the boat and saw that it was now touching rocks.  If this lake level kept dropping like this we would be unable to float the boat and get out of here.  This could be a big deal for the following reasons:

I come to these out of the way places alone and anything can happen.  Cell phones will not work here.  A slip on a wet rock could break a wrist, snake bite is a possibility or a new attack of sciatica isn't out of the question.  In short - a way out is essential.  Its more than important and my exit was being blocked.  I instantly dismantled the camp and tossed everything into the boat haphazardly.  We had to get going.  I hated to leave but good judgement dictated we do so.  I had to push the boat off the rocks by wading while pushing and lifting the bow of the boat back to deeper water.  The channel leading in here is shallow at best to begin with.  Shade jumped in and I fired up the engine and we were off.  The channel was so shallow that I had to raise the engine clear out of the water and use a wooden pole to push the boat through the tiny, deep channel along the right shoreline to the mouth of the waterway and open water.  Made it. The shoreline on the main lake didn't reflect the lake draw-down.  I guess it is more apparent back in the narrow confines of the creek channel.  Anyway - we're on the main lake and were ok.


Wood ducks were all over the lake.  I had plans of being out here from camp very early in the morning to photograph them.  Things don't always go as planned.  Looks like we're going to miss a great night fall and some interesting weather.

I noticed a lot of workers on the face of Cheoah Dam as we left the Calderwood Lake area.  They were working with steel and concrete it seemed.  I also noticed there was no water being released from that dam due, no doubt, to the repairs or construction being undertaken.  No water was entering Calderwood Dam but, obviously there was water leaving it.  That explains the water loss.  It still was a nice day on Calderwood Lake even though the overnight camping plans were scrubbed.   Calderwood Lake is a magic place and I cherish any opportunity I have to be there.  It is a fantastic canoe lake too and that's what we'll be doing on the next visit.  See ya next time.