Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Warriors' Path

I-81 bridges cross Patrick Henry Lake

Monday evening we were in Warriors' Path State Park, just inside the eastern state line of Tennessee, at exit 59.  This trip brought us down through some of the area ravaged by this season’s tornadoes.  The damage was widespread and extensive, from destroyed houses, some where rebuilding has begun, house and business roofs covered with the familiar blue tarps, hillsides with twisted off trees, blown out highway and commercial signs, and so on.  When we

arrived at the campsite, while looking for a spot for the night, we found a camper that had been cut in two by a tree.  Its owner was in the camper at the time, but was uninjured.   He is trying to make do at present by still living in the forward half of the camper, and it was only about a 20-footer to begin with.

Patrick Henry Lake, at Warriors’ Path State Park, was formed by damming the south fork of the Holston River.  There is a dam at either end, and the lake measures close to ten miles from one dam to the other.  It is in a deep ravine with sheer walls of rock, some running 200 ft. in height.  The water is clear, and a beautiful color of green.  I was on the lake for seven hours, and covered 18.2 miles while circumnavigating along the shoreline.  I met six other paddlers, two canoes, two SOT’s, and two kayaks, and had the chance to speak with four of the paddlers.  The lake is home to a wide array of wildlife.  I saw two deer, which stood watching me watch them, many heron, kingfishers, bitterns, brown ducks, Canada geese, and one lone swan.  One pair of Canada geese had three goslings, and another had two.  While they must have lost several to hawks, turtles, and fish, those remaining are now large enough to improve their chances for survival.  On one grass-covered hillside, I counted 48 Canada geese with one lonely white domestic goose crashing the party.  As for ducklings, it would be no exaggeration to say that if I didn’t see a hundred, it was darn close. 
These folks did a beautiful job with this boathouse.  The kayaks and canoes are racked behind the house.  The stairs go up and up.  I suppose there's a residence up there somewhere, but I never saw it.

I had one interesting experience that caused me to move a bit further away from the sheer cliffs.  There was suddenly a loud series of crashes and the sound of splintering trees.  I had a short “What the ----” moment, but then realized what was happening.  One of those huge boulders clinging high to the cliff face had suddenly decided to cling somewhere much lower.

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