Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A SPECTACULAR RIVER DAY

Up is down and down is up.
(Yep - it is indeed the reflection of the sky on the water)

I couldn't wait to get to the river this afternoon as two days in a row on Cherokee Lake was driving me totally nuts!  I jumped in the truck and a feeling of relaxation overtook me because I knew I would be going to a beautiful piece of water filled with interesting critters, sights and surprises.  It felt great driving over the 54 miles of highway required to get to the river because the anticipated excitement of getting on that water overpowered all the idiots on the highway I'd have to contend with along the route.  The five to ten mile drive to any boat ramp on Cherokee Lake is pure tension due to the highway speedsters racing off to their jobs, stores, bars or schools to take or pick up their brats, I mean kids.  
I turned the boat down Beech Creek headed for the Holston River and thought to myself, "what a gorgeous Fall day!"  The sun was brilliant against the back drop of a blue sky with big, billowy clouds.
I could "imagine" being drunk, sitting here on this placid water, looking at the sky reflected on the water's surface and being confused as to what was up and what was down.  And, fish can fly....
See what I mean?

If this was a day off and I was in the Gheenoe - I would park the boat in center stream, lay back on the seat and let the tiny boat drift slowly downstream with the current and just absorb my surroundings through half closed eyes.  But, I wasn't in the Gheenoe and I wasn't off today and I had a job to do so, up stream I went.

I really didn't expect to see beavers or otters as they are in their dens at this early afternoon hour.  They are morning or late afternoon creatures, staying in their hideouts to escape the bright sun and heat of day.  I held hopes of finding them at the 5:00 PM hour or later but, I know from experience that noon to, lets say, 4 PM will find them absent from the lake.

A pair of mallards shelter in the shade of an overhanging tree.


I suddenly got that urge to own a professional 500 mm telephoto lens.  I often get this feeling.  I feel so ill-equipped with this commercial grade lens I'm saddled up with.  I need a faster telephoto.  The temptation to just go finance one sometimes almost overwhelms me but,  common sense and years of prioritizing finances makes me refrain from doing what is obviously a fools endeavor.  There is one thing that has changed, however and that is I've gauged the useful, active life span that I have left on the planet and I've weighed the financial expenditure VS the length of life factor resulting in the revelation that I am seven eights of the way down the snowy, Ice covered mountain that will eventually dump my ass into the icy, cold water of the bottomless sea which indicates that a stupid high financial expenditure on such a whimsical desire such as a camera lens just might be worth undertaking.
Blue winged teal

If I were governor of the state of Tennessee, I would submit paperwork to make this section of the Holston River a State Park, it is so beautiful here.  Calderwood Lake holds special meaning in my heart but, this beautiful section of the Holston River has been elevated to almost the same level as Calderwood.  The key word here is "almost."
It's been three days since I've been up here and the colors of fall were barely visible.  I can see progress on the Fall color front today but, it's a slow change, which is indicative of my overzealous desire to see the end result immediately.  I've got to be patient with this season change thing.  I forget sometimes that every day that passes transports me to that icy downhill slope that ends in the bottomless ocean.  I'm not ready for that adventure yet.  I suddenly find myself hoping that the change in seasons occurs more slowly.  Slow is good. 
Here he is again.  The little fox squirrel was gnawing on one of his favorite foods.  






Can you imagine what the wilderness places would be like without these inhabitants living there.  Trust me - it would be a boring experience to wander through wild country with the knowledge that there were no wild creatures in existence.  Without the wild critters - there are no truly wild places and without the wild places - there are no wild critters.  The aforementioned statement is indicative of why we as a species require management for all the wilderness that is left because, as the wilderness goes - so go's us. 
The sky was gathering gray clouds and the sun was diminishing indicating that a rain fall could be possible.  No big deal.  Let it come.  The only negative was that with the diminished light comes limitations on the ability to gain higher camera shutter speeds.  It is what it is.


I might add here that there is someone helping me write this blog entry tonight.  His name is Mr. Jameson, a gentleman I met in 1968 while hiding behind a pile of sandbags during the Tet Offensive.  He's been a very distant friend whom I have stayed in contact with all these years.  He is of Irish decent and quite the scholar.  I called him tonight to assist me with the sentence structure of this entry.  I believe in paying tribute where tribute is deserved and Mr. Jameson deserves a lot of credit for what you are viewing right now.  He can, however, be a devil....

The last Summer flower.
I finally made it to the bottom of the lake where I would cross and return up the opposite shoreline.  This route would take me past the bald eagle's lair.  Would they be there?  Yes they would, and they were high up on the mountain where I've never seen them.  Priscilla and Harry were positioned to not only view their river but the entire mountain chain that they call home.
They were so high up on the mountain side that I could barely see them.


Look closely at the photo above.  See him?  I wasn't going to post that shot but Mr. Jameson said it would be a unique picture so, I put it on the blog.  I trust Mr. Jameson. You can see the grain in the shot above.  That's due to the introduction of noise in the photo.  A professional lens would have allowed a crystal clear picture due to the increased light gathering abilities of those lenses.  It would have been a very unique photo if it was crystal clear.  Oh well ---
I kept the boat moving downstream as there was not much opportunity to acquire any great pictures of the eagles.

These are mallards.  They, as did the teals, were resting in the shad of overhanging tree limbs.
Believe it or not, the shot above and the one below are my two favorite pictures on this entry.  The light, the shade, the contrast, the color and the content are superb and have been acquired through luck.  Of course; beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I think that Mr. Jameson is extending his influences here.
Two shadows were cast on the water beside the boat and I thought that vultures were passing overhead but, when I looked up I was Harry and Priscilla passing over.  They were headed toward the old snags that were set in the bog located in the center of the river.




Harry perched on the snag and Priscilla actually stood in the water.  This is an unusual sight as I've never seen a bald eagle standing in water before.  They are at a disadvantage safety wise when not on an elevated perch.  I guess Priceless knows best.


Good heavens - the sun has been covered by gray clouds.  The light - the light has been cut by half and the shutter speed must be adjusted to 1/300th of a second.  It's workable but, not optimum for great shots.

I will never get used to seeing these great raptors.  I know it's human perception and the human desire to select a wild natural critter to represnt  our nation but, the bald eagle is indeed the ultimate representation of everything on this continent that remains wild and expressive of individual creative expression and primal, dynamic power.




I have a habit of posting many eagle pictures and there's a reason for it.  Eagles can be hard to find and it takes work to discover their nests and habitats.  The process of finding eagles is a lengthy one but, once they are found they can be reliably enjoyed and observed and the reward for perseverance is immeasurable. 







And that's the day in a nut shell.  Stay tuned as Shade and I are definitely doing an overnight on Calderwood lake next week.  You don't want to miss that one.  

A friend is visiting me from Pennsylvania tomorrow for three days and I will be showing that person some of my favorite haunts here in Tennessee.  There will be an entry covering that visit I'm sure.  Thank you so much for your readership.  Without you I doubt I would continue to pursue this blog endeavor.  

 Blue winged teal

Mr. Jameson and I will now exit stage left....