NANFA-L-- Clear water
Mon, 7 Aug 2006 13:19:40 EDT

i finally was able to immerse myself into some crystal clear water
yesterday. i had spent the previous day wandering the dry bed wastelands of north bama
where the only water found was stagnant, green and silted. cows and pastures
up narrowing coves have become a bad sign.
at the end of the storm clouded day i headed back into tennessee toward
my friend has a folk art bed and breakfast in altamont near skymont. perched
on a bluff it overlooks a waterfall which can be from a summer trickle to a
raging autumn torrent. the next morning we drove to the back entrance of
stone door and savage gulf and hiked in descending down a steep rocky trail for a
couple miles to big creek, one of the headwaters of the collins river. tho
rain has been minimal during this intense blazing summer the creek banks and
lower forest were rich in mosses, tawny milkcaps and refreshingly cool in the
shade. however out on the sunbleached rocks and boulders it was hot but
offered nice breaks from the long cooling snorkels. there was not much diversity
but the clarity brought out wonderful hues, patterns and golden tones in the
plentiful creek chubs and herds of stonerollers. the clean graveled substrate
was populated with billions of whirly patterned snails. with raised open claws
a few crawdads peeked from beneath stones eager to grasp anything coming
their way. it has been such a long time since i laid in water the color of air.
so pretty and crisp. rock architecture. a few black nose dace worked along
the bottom probing with their well worn noses. i carefully worked my way
upstream checking different pools hoping to see another specie, perhaps a
hogsucker. i laid in the outflow of riffle runs hoping to see snub darters but at this
elevation much diversity is not offered.
i eventually came upon a large and 8' deep boulder pool that my friends were
resting by. surely there would be at least sunfish here. i snorkeled the
perimeter and was suprised not to find the schools of openly swimming chubs and
rollers i had found in the smaller pools. i figured there must be a large
predator about. i dove and peered under ledges and back into dark crevases but
only found a small school of bluegill and one oddly misshapened bass. i still
think something was back in those shadows ready to dash out and grab any
minnow cruising by.
a nice picnic, a bit more snorkeling and relaxing chatter and finally the
dreaded steep climb out of the gulf brought us into the sweltering summer
so it was... here are couple pics to see...

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