Thursday, January 30, 2014

DOUGLAS LAKE - RESPLENDENT IN WINTER COLOR

Everyone knows I humorously malign Douglas Lake calling it a mud hole, drainage ditch for the French Broad River and more but, this morning it was one of the most beautiful places I ever saw, thanks to the disguises provided to the lake by winter.




These pictures are a poor replication of this morning's brilliance and I doubt any camera capable of capturing nature's perfection as perfection is only achieved in nature and impossible to achieve by mortal man.





The shots above were taken facing upstream from the campground and boat ramp at the dam.
The shot above and below were taken "at" the Route 25/70 bridge that crosses over the lake.  They show that ice is covering the lake from the right shoreline almost all the way across the waterway, only allowing a narrow band of water free from ice on the opposite shoreline.  These pictures are unique as extreme lake freezes such as this are rare and few residence of East Tennessee can remember if and when it has ever previously occurred on East Tennessee Lakes.



Well, there's no access to the lake here.  I drove to the Dandridge boat ramp to see if it was iced in.
There are no tracks leading down the ramp to the lake.  I grabbed the thermometer I use to gather water temperature and started to walk down to the water on the boat ramp and my feet suddenly slipped out from under me due to ice.  Believe it or not, I actually couldn't stand up to walk.  I had to roll over onto hands and knees to crawl to the edge of the ramp where snow covered gravel would allow me to get enough traction to stand and walk back up the hill.  I guess this ramp won't work either. OK - I better drive up to Walters Bridge and see what conditions are up there and maybe talk to some fisherman foolish enough to attempt a boat launch there.  I had to pass by Swann's Marina, a favorite place anglers launch boats, and saw instantly that the entire area surrounding the marina was solid ice.
It was odd to see boats surrounded by a blanket of snow covered ice.  I thought of Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance.  If you don't know that story, you are missing an adventure that is unbelievable yet true. 

The view of the ice and snow covered lake from Walter's Bridge was spectacular and beyond my expectations.   All traces of muddy shorelines were gone and replaced by winter snow.  The tree tops across the lake were flashing in the sunlight, sparkling brightly against the backdrop of the blue mountains behind them. 
Countless birds were skimming over the ice choked river swooping down often to pick up tiny, dead shad that were floating on the surface due to their inability to cope with the extended super cold water temperatures.
Above shows a view across the snow and ice covered lake.
The shot below is at the bottom of the boat ramp at Walter's Bridge access area.  The icy water is raging and much broken ice is being carried downstream.  I wonder what will happen when all these ice sheets flow downstream and jamb up against the thick, unbroken ice far downstream on the main lake.
The shot below is one of my favorites.  Douglas Lake never looked better than it does this morning.


Below:  I couldn't help but mess with the picture.
OK - so I like mules, burros and donkeys ---- allot!  No, he wasn't on the lake.
It was 6 degrees above zero when I got up this morning and 40 degrees is predicted for this afternoon.  Tomorrow will be mid 40's and Saturday is scheduled for 55 degrees.  Hopefully the deep-freeze conditions are over and I can get back to what I like to do most, and fishermen will return to the lakes.  I am still curious what the result will be when all that loose upstream ice flows downstream and jambs into the solid ice on the main lake.  I'll keep my eye on it.