Kayaking on Chilhowee Lake
By Rachelle Siegrist
It was a gorgeous day, complete with brilliant blue skies and a cool breeze, as we headed over to nearby Chilhowee Lake early last Monday morning. Once there, we quickly unloaded the kayaks, and off we went anxious to see what adventures were lurking ahead. Immediately we noticed large carp were splashing and coming out of the water everywhere, and soon found ourselves in the midst of them, as we floated along the glassy surface of the unbelievably clear water! It looked like we were floating on the surface of an aquarium, peering down into the crystal clear water, while watching the large carp swim between the plants below, at times right beneath our kayaks!
We decided they must be spawning, and it created a most spectacular display! Time stood still as we slowly paddled along, watching and waiting for the next big splash to occur. Some of the fish were huge, and I found the experience quite thrilling to say the least! This went on and on, as we heard big splashes of water in surround sound, quickly looking in each direction each time it happened, hoping to see the action!
Having paddled for quite some time, we reached the tip of the man made lake. I noticed large billboard signs on either side of the narrowing river which read “Warning Dangerous Waters” and couldn’t resist the urge to investigate a bit closer. Paddling closer I tried to figure out why the waters were considered dangerous. Soon David joined me, and the two of us investigated more closely. We decided we didn’t see anything possibly dangerous about it, unless the brick building was some type of pump house, and released water at a high rate of speed.
So we paddled back and joined the others, who had found the perfect location for lunch. David, Paul and Michael climbed out of their kayaks to sit on the rocky bank, while Wes and I stayed in our kayaks. David had walked off for a few minutes and upon his return I told him “Oh No . . . you grabbed the garbage bag from yesterday’s lunch instead of the food bag!” He came quickly stumbling over rocks saying “Are you serious? I can’t believe I did that!” By that time the rest of us busted out laughing and he realized I was being naughty . . . hee hee! There we sat laughing, eating, and laughing some more, while we shared funny stories which transformed into taking turns making loud jungle bird calls and singing like gibbons, when we realized we could hear our echo in the surrounding mountains!
As we sat there totally relaxed, with the picnic buffet spread everywhere, and me enjoying my Swiss Miss Roll David had brought for me, we suddenly heard this loud noise which quickly grew louder. Wes said . . . “Either there’s a jet coming down the Dragon (the curvy road nearby), or they just turned on the pump house!!!” With that announcement, Michael amazingly leapt in one perfectly smooth swoop from the rocks where he stood, landing perfectly on his kayak, much the same way John Wayne would mount his horse! David shouted “Grab the food!” and Paul started grabbing it along with him, while stumbling on the rocks and quickly getting back into their kayaks. We all roared with laughter as we headed off, totally amazed at how quickly the water level of the lake was rising! I couldn’t stop laughing as I replayed the hilarious entire scenario in my head! It ended up not being the torrential currents we anticipated but we did enjoy the short lived adrenaline rush!
After having exclaimed minutes earlier that I would so love to see a beaver, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw just that!!! It was swimming across the lake right in front of Wes and I, and we watched it for several minutes, feeling gloriously fortunate! Then a large King Snake swam across directly in front of us, and I thought the day was getting more amazing by the minute!
Paddling along completely carefree, we enjoyed being pushed by the current part of the way. I noticed small pockets of air had formed on the tips of the underwater vegetation, and were acting like prisms, appearing as hundreds of submersed diamonds! We came upon a narrow spit of sandy, stone-encrusted land jutting out into the lake. It was a perfect spot for getting out, pulling out our kayaks and exploring a little. I immediately headed for the water and waded in waist deep when almost instantly it become quite cool and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to commit to going under or not.
About that time, Paul decided to practice his Karate Kid pose while standing on water as we cheered him on!
The others out numbered the two of us who wanted to stay there longer, so off we went once again. Legs dangling over the front of my kayak, reclining and floating along, I felt as if I hadn’t a care in the world, and I must say it was marvelous! Suddenly Wes said, “Here comes a Bald Eagle!” and there it was heading our way! It flew directly above us, low enough that I could see his eye and beak and hear him making chattering noise at us. “Awesome!!” was heard coming from everyone scattered about, as we watched it fly off and land in a tall tree on the adjacent mountainside!
It was soon time to leave, so I reluctantly paddled back to the ramp. While loading our kayaks, a truck with a pleasant looking older couple pulled into the wee small parking area. Upon seeing our group, especially the half naked guy running around with a camouflage bandana tied around his head, and a very large buzzard feather sticking straight up out of it, they promptly turned around and left as fast as they could! I broke out in laughter imagining what they must’ve thought, and figuring it was their first and last trip down that long narrow road!
Since our friends had never been to Look Rock Tower, we decided to take the ¼ mile hike up to it on the way home. With it being such a beautiful day, the view was truly lovely from the top. It was decided there couldn’t be a better end to the day’s adventures than a visit to the Burger Master where we all enjoyed yummy ice cream! Yesterday it was back to reality, and frankly I think the five of us would all agree . . . we would rather be kayaking!!!
Paul, David, Michael (being inducted into my famed bunny ears club) and me
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Wes and I are delighted to have been invited to participate in Lovetts Gallery’s Lollipop Guild Show, which is a thematic miniature show tying in with the much loved Wizard of Oz. If you’re going to be in the Tulsa area June 20th through July 20th we highly recommend a visit to see and purchase works from this gallery!
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Until next time . . .