Kayaking near Chilhowee Lake
By Rachelle Siegrist
With kayaks loaded, early last Monday morning we drove the half-hour drive along the scenic Foothills Parkway over to Chilhowee Lake. Splashes of bright red and yellow greeted us along the winding drive, reminding that fall is on its way! Quickly unloading and jumping into our kayaks, we made it onto the water just in time to catch a quick glimpse of the soft rising mist, mere minutes before it quickly disappeared.
It was all quite exciting, as this section of the Little Tennessee River flowing below Chilhowee Dam, was new kayaking territory for us. Slowly gliding across the glassy surface, we soon found ourselves in the midst of a hundred or more swallows flying above and all around us, performing quick, perfectly timed maneuvers while catching bugs mid-air! Occasionally a few took mini breaks, while sitting atop a couple of tree snags nearby. Belted Kingfishers flew beside us, while Ospreys soared above, filling the air with their all familiar call. Then we noticed a Great Blue Heron fishing from where he was perched inches above the water on an old stump.
Paddling our way across the river, we slowly meandered in and out of numerous cove areas lined with soft, tall grasses and thick vegetation. Each unfolding scene, beautiful and quite different than our recent paddle on Chilhowee Lake. We explored different coves, encircling islands when possible. Paddling around another bend, the river opened into a wide area, filled with numerous tree snags, looking like sentries standing as a reminder of another time and place. A couple of them had become their own mini islands, with little bits of grass, lichens, and even some with Turtle Head flowers blooming and growing on them.
We decided that the middle of this snag forest made a perfect lunch spot. Tying our kayaks to a tree, we enjoyed our lunch while listening to the relaxing sounds of water gently lapping against the side of our boats, the peaceful song of birds and of crickets joining in. Immediately I was completely mesmerized, while floating in a state of total relaxation! Finishing lunch, we decided to explore the area further. After passing through several old bridge pilings still standing, we paddled quite a distance around a couple larger islands.
The chilly water was crystal clear, with long tendrils of bright neon green grasses waving in the current below, and we saw bass and several Grass Carp as we floated along, feeling almost like we were kayaking over a large aquarium! Along the islands, there were scattered trees flaunting red and yellow leaves, adding even more color to the setting.
Knowing rain showers would be approaching later that afternoon, we turned around and headed back. All too soon we were back at the boat ramp, loading up our kayaks, talking of what a glorious time we had enjoyed on the water that day!
Leaving there, we drove up to Chilhowee Lake, to where we normally kayak, to see the difference since they’ve drawn it down, to perform an inspection of Chilhowee Dam. It hasn’t been this low since 1957, and is indeed something to see! Now we know what we’re kayaking over in places, such as old bridges and roads. We also heard some very interesting stories from several people who grew up in the area, which had come to see and photograph the lowered lake.
~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~
This past week has been one filled with lots of painting time, with days of rain! I finished a miniature painting inspired from our recent kayak trip down the Flint River, of a gentleman bathed in beautiful warm morning light while catching a fish. This setting reminds me of fishing along the rivers in south Florida growing up!
Wes finished his miniature landscape of a gorgeous oak tree lined road, which we photographed on a plantation in south Georgia. He also finished a painting of a Mute Swan, which was photographed during the same trip.
Until next time . . .