An “Otterly” Amazing Experience!
By Rachelle Siegrist
Wes and I in front of Spruce Flats Falls
“Oh my!” . . . I exclaimed as I stepped into the icy cold water of the Little River! The sun had barely begun to break through the heavily forested mountainside abutting the river, thus the early morning air was still quite crisp and cool. Only a fisherman and family of three had ventured out that morning, and were on the rocky beach. Once happily settled into our inner tubes, the swift moving water nudged us on our way down the river. Before long we had rounded the first bend, leaving the others behind, now the river was all ours. Anxiously we approached the first set of cascades, where the river now took control as it bounced us up and down, spinning us around and whizzing us past big rocks, with a big splash of frigid water baptizing us and sending us on our way! I was covered with goose bumps and shivered for quite sometime afterwards before thawing out a bit, but alas the thrill of it all was certainly well worth it!
I just can’t resist playing in the water!
Floating around a few more bends, then descending down several cascades, we came to a large green pool of calm, slow moving water. While just relaxing, and enjoying the amazing surroundings, we noticed a small Grebe quietly gliding along near the river’s edge. We watched as she slipped behind tree roots dipping down into the water, and floated around clumps of moss-covered bank jutting out. We quietly watched for quite sometime, enjoying our time with this little feathered beauty. Being quite thrilled at and still talking about our Grebe encounter, we spotted a large spider floating on the slick surface of the water. It seemed to be tap dancing along, picking up its two front feet high into the air, almost as if marching. Suddenly a small fish from underneath struck at it, pulling it under for a second before it popped back up onto the surface. The strikes continued and it’s struggle for life went on for several minutes, until it finally safely reached the shore.
“Wow . . . this is great!” . . . I thought, as we discussed this latest incredible nature sighting. Completely relaxed and lost in time, we floating along, occasionally descending over exciting cascades and being reminded how frigid the water still was, as it hit our “un-numb” areas! Watching the river’s edge, we noticed a large moth had just fallen into the water, so quickly we paddled our way to it, where Wes carefully retrieved it and placed it back onto the bank, safe from falling back into the water, so it’s delicate wings could dry out. Before long we had reached the end of our journey, so it was time to climb out of the river, walk back alongside it to where we had begun earlier that morning, and start all over again! As we approached the rock-covered beach, we noticed there were a few more people who had ventured out by now. We quickly mounted our tubes, exclaiming that the water hadn’t warmed up at all, and floated on our merry way.
Another view of Spruce Flats Falls in all of its splendor
Still reveling in the sights and experiences enjoyed earlier that morning, we passed our little feathered friend once again as she glided across the river, this time with sunlight now dancing off her back. Out of the corner of our eyes, we noticed motion alongside the rivers edge. Quickly we realized that it was three otters, and were quite stunned to be blessed with such an incredible encounter! Thankfully we were in an calm section of the river, so with tubes tied together, we sat motionless, as we were treated to a spectacular show of water ballet! We watched the rising bubbles as the otters swam near us, popping up periodically to check us out. Instantly they would disappear, slipping under the surface and popping up in another location. They took turns climbing out onto the moss-covered bank before diving back in. At one point, all three exited the river and took turns spraying and marking their territory, shaking their backsides at the conclusion each time! “Ha I said . . . that is just hilarious!” Finished with their display of territorial ownership, they dove back into the water and swam a short distance before one climbed out onto a large rock.
This amazing show of sheer grace and agility in the water went on for almost half an hour, as they still seemed to be trying to decide what we were exactly. Suddenly one popped up, and in its mouth was a small fish, which had obviously become a mid-morning snack! Just when we thought this can’t get any better, all three decided it was time to play in the rapids, while swimming up the swift moving whitewater with great ease, then jumping off rocks, diving into the cascades, doing it over and over, as if they were having incredible fun! When they finally swam out of sight and we floated down the river, we couldn’t believe the delightful encounters with nature we had been blessed with, and were truly thankful for each one of them! Nature has so much to show and teach us . . . if only we’ll take the time to watch, listen and learn!
Wes and I also enjoyed a short hike to Spruce Flats one morning this past week, which as always was a wonderful treat, especially since the Huckleberries were already getting ripe . . . yum! Kit joined us this past Friday evening for supper, before the three of us went to enjoy a local concert featuring The Bearded. They’re a very talented group of four bearded guys who entertained the packed out audience to funky bluegrass, as we describe it. I told Kit that now he can officially say that he’s been to a Tennessee Hootenanny! As per tradition, we enjoyed delicious chocolate ice cream at Townsend’s most popular weekend hangout, the Burger Master.
The local hangout . . . thanks Kit for the neat photo!
~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~
This past week I finished my miniature painting of a teeny tiny Washington Monument, which we photographed during one of our fun visits to DC. Wes finished his painting of a Slate-colored Junco, which we photographed during our recent anniversary hike to Charlie’s Bunion here in the Smoky Mountains.
“Cliff-side Serenade ” by Wes
“The Washington Monument” by Rachelle
Miniature But Mighty
Until August 9, 2014 at the Hannibal Arts Council, Hannibal, MO ~ Special thanks to Michael Gaines for taking this photo for us!
Until next time . . .