Monday, June 30, 2014

Paddling Lake Chatuge near Hayesville, NC

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore...
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
William Butler Yeats

Last time DH and I drove out to this lake to check it out as a possible paddling spot, we arrived during a ferocious thunder storm. We ate our picnic lunch in the center of the covered shelter, just out of reach of the blowing rain.

This time we had a beautiful sunny day so we packed up the kayaks and headed over the mountains back to Lake Chatuge. It's about 30 miles from our home.

When we got there, dark gray clouds filled the sky and thunder rumbled. Argh. So we sat in the truck for a while looking at the lake--so near and yet so far.....  After about 30 minutes the thunder was more distant and the sky was of two minds--the left side still gray and threatening, the right blue with white clouds. We decided to join other boaters who had been waiting and we launched, with the plan to stay nearby. It's been so long since I have been paddling, I had to get on the water! This is how it looked from where we launched:

 photo Lake062914.jpg

When it rains in the mountains, the clouds settle low, as you can see in the mountains to the left.

We paddled to the right (under the pretty section of sky, of course!). Another lake shot:

 photo lake2-062914.jpg

This is a very large lake, with a shoreline that is woodsy in part and lined with houses with docks in the rest. It's a nice combination. The water is clear and on this day was a beautiful green color. It was remarkably warm as well. If not for the distant thunder and our limited time, I would certainly have found a place to get out and go for a swim. Next time.

We paddled into a cove lined with houses and just enjoyed the feeling of being back on the water. However, the dark half of sky was gradually defeating and moving into the cheerful blue half. Here is the look of it as we were leaving the cove:

 photo lake3-062914.jpg

What amazing timing! When we got out of the boats, it started to sprinkle. When they were loaded and we were pulling out of the parking lot, the sky opened up and it was a deluge. The wind blew sheets of rain across the pavement.

Some day we will visit this lake and it will not be storming....

I don't know the name of the boat ramp that we used. We did not have to use the large concrete ramp to launch, the shoreline all around the parking lot is shallow with pebbles or small stones on the bottom. Very easy launching, great spot to start a paddle. We got there by heading west on 64 going from Franklin toward Hayesville. We turned left on Ledford Church Rd and stayed on that until it dead-ended into the boat ramp parking lot. If you get to the Ingles in Hayesville, you went too far and missed Ledford Church Rd. There is a boat ramp sign on 64.

We want to get back to this lake, and will also be exploring Nantahala Lake, which is about the same distance. Stand by.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Birds of Prey....and a Jay

A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?

We have moved to the mountains of North Carolina, unpacking is almost finished. I am not sure what the paddling opportunities will be yet, nor how many of my beloved egrets and herons I will be seeing the near future. But hopefully the "birdography" part of this blog will continue on. (Meanwhile, miscellaneous photos of the area can be found on the Photo Miscellanea blog, which is coming back to life.)

The people who lived in this house before us were apparently avid bird watchers, and they had several feeders set up. We had been filling them on our trips up here from Florida during the year between buying this house and retiring and moving to it, and now we can keep them full on a regular basis. We have many, many more types of birds here than we had in Florida, and I hope to get pictures of them as time goes by. Meanwhile, I did catch this blue jay at a feeder. A lot of people don't like jays--they see them as bullies--but since we never saw any in Florida, we are enjoying their bright colors. Also, while they do display some mob-like behavior, they have only taken over this feeder, leaving the others to the smaller birds. So it all works out.

 photo jayatfeeder0614.jpg

A few days ago we went to a Birds of Prey demonstration at a nearby recreation area, which of course led to lots of photos!

First out was a young barred owl.

 photo barredowl0614.jpg

Here, the presenter, who was really great, was pointing out that those are not ears on top of its head, but rather ear tufts.

 photo barredowlears0614.jpg

Next out was a 7-month-old barn owl, which was born in captivity.

 photo barnowl0614.jpg

He fed the owl a (long-deceased) mouse, which it happily consumed up to the tail...and then it sat looking like this for a while.

 photo barnowltail0614.jpg

And then he brought out a small screech owl that happened to be in a red phase.

 photo screech2-0614.jpg

This owl is blind in one eye, and never took that one eye off the handler. The guy said he had never had one do that before.

 photo screechowl0614.jpg

Next we moved from owls to this small colorful kestrel.

 photo kestrelside0614.jpg

Its tail was very impressive.

 photo kestreltail0614.jpg

The last bird was a red-tailed hawk--a very large bird! And very photogenic.

 photo redtailhawk0614.jpg


 photo hawk2-0614.jpg


 photo hawk3-0614.jpg


 photo hawk4-0614.jpg

It was a wonderful and informative show. We followed it with a picnic lunch next to the lake (no boats allowed, not even kayaks).

When we get a little more settled, we will start looking for paddling spots. Two of my favorite lakes, Santeetlah and Calderwood, are about 90 minutes away, give or take. A long drive for a paddle, but the scenery make it worth it. We are also not too far from Lake Jocassee, which I have wanted to see for quite a while. 

Stand by.