Monday, August 08, 2011

Watauga Lake

One day on our vacation we drove over to nearby Watauga Lake to take the canoe out on the lake. Watauga is famous for being one of the deepest lakes in the TVA system, and for having inundated a relatively thriving community as it filled up. The town had a population of around a thousand people but underneath it had to go. Sad. The locals still hold an annual fest in honor of the drowned city.

The day we were there the traffic on the lake was minimal. Which is great if you're in a canoe. There's nothing more horrifying than being surrounded by hordes of powerboats when you're in a paddle craft. So we tend to avoid such places. I figured the lake would be relatively empty of motor craft and I was right.

Of course I turned us over as we were getting into the canoe, so that was a bad start. Fortunately we hadn't even set out yet so we took the canoe ashore and dumped out the water and wrung out the stuff. Our hot dog buns were ruined, though. I blame it on my bum knee.

Watauga Lake is actually a beautiful spot. Lots of high mountains around the shorelines and virtually no buildings at all. This is, I suppose, because there was no private property along the short beyond a few small spots where some marinas are now located. So you don't have to look up at the homes of millionaires looking down on you as if you are common crap to be avoided and kept off of their private property.

We paddled out to an island in the middle of the lake and had lunch. The island is actually a fairly large one with trails and some hills. I explored it a little, but not as much as I probably should have. We used that spot to have lunch and to go swimming. We were both surprised at the lack of fish to be seen, and were told later that the summer has been so hot that the top layers of water in the lake are too hot for most fish and they have retreated to depths to stay cool. Makes sense to me.

After we spent the day on the lake, we drove in to the Cardens Bluff National Forest campground there to scope it out for possible use with our trailer. However, the campground host apparently did not like us riding through his campground and dogged our tailgate all along the way, trying to intimidate us. What an asshole! We concluded that the campground was pretty lousy anyway. (But the campground host there can kiss my happy ass.)

I really like having a waterproof and underwater camera. The quality of some images is compromised, but it gives you a safe way to take photographs in, around, and under the water. This is a typical view of Watauga Lake with a nice sailboat drifting across the surface.

This lens doesn't take good photos in bright sunlight, unfortunately. But this is where we put ashore on the island to have lunch.

Carole bobbing around in the cool water. Well, relatively cool. As I mentioned, this summer has been so hot that the top layer of the lake water is pretty warm. Too warm, I hear, for rainbow trout who have all retreated to depth.

Good ol' Bob.

Looking off toward the island where we had lunch. We stopped at a small rocky islet to go swimming and relax a bit after a long paddle across the lake.

This is the little rock island where we beached the canoe for a while. It would have been a really good place to lay out in the sun, but about half the island was covered in goose shit. Man, those birds lay some really enormous turds. I did find some clean patches of rock at the far end where I spread out our wet towels to dry.

Underwater shot showing the clarity of the lake.

This enormous houseboat cruised past us while we sat on the rock island. In a way, it seemed ridiculous for such a large boat to be on this sized lake.

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