Friday, August 2, 2013

ON CHEROKEE LAKE

"I gotta get rolling here.  It's almost 6 AM and I don't have time to stop for breakfast."
I had to slip out of the house to the truck without Shade getting wise.  I messed around in the kitchen shuffling crinkly bags that sound like treat bags to keep the attention of all three dogs.  They hung around waiting for the treat they were sure was coming.  I moved over to the living room door and lifted my gear from the living room to the porch and pulled the door shut.  The treats were handed out, Shade ran upstairs to the computer room, Chestnut ran up to the bed and Happy went up to the top of the stairs.  All of them have their special spots.  I forgot to fill my two quart water bottles.  I almost made it out the door without a hitch.  I know - I'll fill them at the faucet on the side of the house outside.  That way I can leave now while they are all occupied.
I slipped quietly out the door and went around the house to fill the two quart water bottles.  When I turned to start walking to the truck, well - look for yourself.
I couldn't believe my eyes.  How'd she do that?  Was I seeing things?  No - there she was though.
It's not that I don't want to take her, but the sun is hot and I hate to have her overheat on the boat.  She is very insistent though.  I know - I'll tempt her with a treat and walk to the porch.  If I get her that far she'll probably go on inside.  
I turned my back to her and walked up onto the porch saying, "Come on Shade.  Good girl.  Lets get a treat now.  Come on."
I turned around to see if she was there and she wasn't.  Had to be under the porch. She wasn't.  I had to get going so I opened the door to the living room for her and turned toward the truck.  The dogs will not leave the property ever.  They will stay on the porch until I return.  Shade would be able to get inside anytime she wants.  She pouts when I won't take her in the truck and this no doubt is pouting time.  
I walked to the truck and reached up to close the passenger door.  My heart got warm and a smile came over my face when I looked inside.
I'd be running on Cherokee Lake today and following the islands up the center of the lake.  I'd have to check both sides and then each shoreline on the edges of the lake.  It's pretty much all big water accept for one creek that flows into the main reservoir, German Creek.  That's a lot of water to cover and there wouldn't be much opportunity to stop anywhere along the way.  One stop has to happen.
I looked through my binoculars at the pontoon boat above to determine if he was fishing or not.  He wasn't.  I saw him stand up, raise his arms out to the side, turn his back to the edge of the boat and watched him try to catch himself on the railing behind him as he fell into the lake.  I thought, "here we go."
He floundered around in the water and pulled himself back on board.  He was fine.  I pretended like I didn't see anything and kept motoring across the water.
I drove up German Creek and went past a cut that slices through the hillside and connects the main lake with a totally different body of water.  I always wanted to paddle a canoe through there.

This is one of the neatest spots on Cherokee Lake.  It's also too much trouble to get a canoe way out here just to paddle through this ditch.  But, it's pretty.


We would be passing an enormous cormorant rookery next, so I thought we should take our break here on this island.   It's a pretty little rock.
This is the only flower on this rock island - really.  How can it be?  There has to be another one somewhere.  I don't see it.
This is a pretty little cove.  Of course the water will be all gone when the lake is lowered in the Fall.  All that will be here is brown mud, just like everywhere else.  But, for now it is really pretty.



Ten minutes of running and we approached the cormorant rookery.  It is reputed to be the largest rookery in East Tennessee.  I think I may have disproved that with the discovery of another even bigger looking cormorant rookery further upstream.
The first indication of the rookery was the clucking, cackling, moans and grunting that these birds make.  They sound like they're in misery, but in reality they are very contented.  The second indication of the rookery is the hundreds of nest in the trees.  Many, many cormorants are perched in practically all the trees on the island.

There are so many birds nesting and roosting in the trees on this island that the foliage beneath them is no longer green but white.

No, the color isn't incorrect in the two shots above.  The wood and leaves are white, covered with cormorant droppings.   Their waste material is highly acidic and will actually kill the trees they roost in.  All the leaves on the tree will be painted white and the trunk will be coated with their liquid waste, and the tree will die.  Many islands over West of here at Land Between The Lakes (West Tennessee) are covered with dead trees.  Some people are starting to scream for control on these birds.  I don't know what the answer is.  Don't know.
They are very powerful flyers and are impressive to watch take flight.  There are more and more of them here every year and  they really don't belong in Tennessee.  They are a shore bird.  Things change I guess.  We got em now though.


"Ready to go Shade?"  You might not have noticed but Shade has a deformed ear.  She was born that way.  No matter.  She's perfect to me.
We were on the return leg of the afternoon and the air conditioner in the truck will be a welcome experience for Shade.  I like to get her wet in the lake before we take off.  The wind blowing past her wet hair will help keep her cool.  
That's it for today.  No earth shattering experience.  Tomorrow morning will be a river morning.  Anything can happen up there.  I'm looking forward to it.