> i just returned from a weekend wander w/ my daughter of seven. we started off
> sampling ice cream at the famous mayfield's dairy in athens tn and checked on
> a mapped little spring that flows from near a small house. guthies spring. i
> kept trying to locate it using the gazateer but the map road numbers were
> incorrest. finally i got true bearings and confirmed them when i spied a
> totally vine covered ancient springhouse. years ago the owners had filled in
> the spring run to make a "nice" front yard for the house. well their well
> went dry at the original spring house. hum... i wonder why:). the spring
> burst forth downstream 50' from the culvert ditch side that runs alongside
> the backroad. i did not get in it but looked like there were a few orange
> side daces dashing about. im always thinking flame chubbs in these parts and
> i sure understand why they are decimated with all the spring and the spring
> runs tampering that takes place. next time i will kick net it, who knows
> maybe a few flames will be there but i doubt it. we headed on to etowah tn
> and the swinging midway drive-in to catch the new scooby do flick which was
> followed by the spider movie, 8 legged freaks. it started putting fear in my
> little girl ( she was covering her eyes and asking me when it was ok to look
> :) so we cranked the van up and headed toward my buddies cabin near the
> tellico river.
> after a good nights rest and no bad dreams we drove across the state line via
> the cherohala skyway. a very fine drive. scenic overlooks. impressive vistas.
> it gets to almost 6000 ft at hooper's bald. then drops down to about 3 or
> 4000 at the joyce kilmer and cherokee state forest. we hiked back to a site
> called rattlers ford that i use to camp at. it has been over 3 years since i
> last had visited w/ my son and a friend of his. a wonderful clear mountain
> stream flows along the campsite. most excellent. giant hemlocks. riffles,
> pools and boulders. we put on masks and i quickly noted warpaint shiners,
> green fin and greenside darters, molted sculpins, hogsuckers, stonerollers,
> river chubbs ( a big different than i see at home ), rainbow trout... maybe
> brooks, a unknown saffron type shiner ( cant id ), colored rosy side dace and
> longnose dace. the longnose dace were very sleek and much bigger than i
> remember from the citico. they tended to stay under rocks in the riffle runs.
> very large fleshy nose. nicely colored. the green fin darters lacked the
> bright green fins i had remembered from before. some of the stonerollers were
> developing the pattern of blueish tubercules on their heads. i turned over a
> few rocks to look for hellbenders but only found a couple unknown salamanders
> and sculpins. i had seen a couple small hellbenders here a few years ago
> along w/ a dead one resulting from a trout fisherman. no bass or sunfish were
> seen in the 100 yard stretch we explored. the time years before i had been
> mystified on the ids but this time i was only skunked on the shiner. i would
> like to spend more time working the length of the stream but i wanted to
> spend most my time teaching my little girl. we had a nice evening building a
> twig tower campfire and watching the sky for persied meteors and fireflies.
> during the day we had also watched a perfect dragonfly be ressurected after
> being long doused in the cold mountain stream water. we put a magnifying
> glass on the little beast to study its intricate body parts, dried it off on
> a warm rock, blew off the water with our breath and watched its body slowly
> pulse back to life. beautiful creature, yellow banding and bright irridescent
> green eyes. dissappeared into the sky.
> the next morning we broke camp early and hiked back to the van. i wanted to
> check this stream's exodus just above the point where it flowed into
> santatelee lake proper. i was amazed to see tangerine darters at this site.
> at one point i had 7 in my glass and another 2 just over a stonework. the
> reddist tangerine males were in the intense rapids and their back dorsal fins
> were flayed a bit. dark, blackish were the two dorsal fins. very honcho.
> warpaints and the unknown shiners once again. large black tailed bass were
> here. i rarely see tangerines expressing fear nor concern. they always seem
> confident and inqusitive. yet all the river chubbs were hiding under stones
> at 10 am. not like yesterday afternoon when they were very active at the
> other locale. hum. could the bass have been in hunting mode? there were
> several very big cruisers about.
> one thing that very much impressed me after seeing so much silt in my recent
> travels. these massive boulders, stones and gravel were relatively silt free.
> i could easily see how so much more habitat was available for all the
> critters. deep boulder pockets, lots of hiding places. very deep silt free
> pools. if i could have dove down im sure beneath many of the large, flat
> rocks were hellbenders. i would love to return to this area and spend 2 or 3
> days checking out all the niches including the lake and its exit flow, the
> cheoah river. very nice camping is along the banks of both the lake and
> feeder streams. some of these streams are quite large. many springs i presume
> would flow in offering different habitats.
> we headed to robbinsville nc for some lunch by driving along the lake and
> found the dam that allowed but just a small stream that was exiting this high
> mountain lake.
> after lunch in robbinsville ( has anyone ever read peter jenkins' walk across
> america? this is the town he was run out of because of the locals suspicion
> which eventualized into death threats against his dog and presumably peter. )
> we made it down to andrews nc ( just south of which lays murphy nc where the
> distraught white boy after being runoff and then nearly wasted w/ influenza
> for several days in an appalachian trail shelter found love in a black
> families offering ) ( great story, and true... peter j walked all across
> america and found more than most of us will ever experience. ) ( he began the
> walk over despair for our country after the vietnam war ) ( awesome
> experiences he had )
> anyway it was back to the valley river where my nw ga and nc trip had
> concluded. this was the river fritz r had urged me to check out. that day had
> been mirred in cold, murky, leech infested water. not a good experience on
> the whole.
> now the water was clear, cool and inviting even tho the substrate was very
> silty. the river flows thru a plethora of farms, fields, houses and man's
> work. thus the silt i believe. cerulean and i worked our way much futher
> upstream and saw in all: rainbow trout, redline and gilt darters, creek
> chubbs, big eye chubbs, hogsuckers, stonerollers, sculpin, warpaint, mirror,
> whitetail and a emerald type shiner(s), blotched chubbs, massive redfinned
> carp, bass, rock bass and redbreast sunnies. redhorse type suckers tho im
> getting concerned on seperating and iding properly out the carp. no leeches,
> orange side dace or gambusia. a very good locale that merits a full day. i
> had thought i had seen a blotch side logperch in the murky water on my first
> visit but i now believe it to have been a gilt. i dont know why i did not
> consider that possibility then. they do look somewhat the same and have the
> same get up and go behavior. the blotched chubb id im sure of after
> memorizing the body marking and characterisitcs and comparing them to
> peterson's and the range maps. i observed over 6 of them at only one of the
> many snorkle sites we tried. they were just below a small dam probably
> created by kids piling up boulders. 17 species for sure in about an hour and
> a half of snorkling. i know i could go 20 to 25 if i spent the day there.
> we headed on back to chatt making stops along the way. mostly the ocoee
> river. an odd assortment of dams, lakes, wooden tresseled water shutes,
> manmade concreted kayak runs, nearly dry stream flows and bridges make up its
> length. very clear water in places upstream tho probably devoid of most life
> as the water rages for kayakers intermintently and then is abruptly diverted
> for power production on some kind of schedule. recently a rock fall took out
> a portion of the water shute which runs high along the ridge. it directs the
> river water in and through the shutes to turbine generators. the upper ocoee
> river was modified and used for the whitewater portion of the atlanta
> olympics a few years back. all the structures, parking, roads and welcome
> center still remain. interesting area to explore.
> we have returned home a bit after dark tonight and i should be in bed. my
> little snorkler enjoyed herself when the water was not too cold and the rocks
> not too slippery. she excitedly got to watch while snorkling sparing
> whitetail shiners and gilt darters coming to her hands. the conasauga runs
> about 80 degrees this time of year so a trip there would be ideal for her.
> much warmer. she had a couple shiver fits but were quickly eased in the warm
> sun of today. all and all a fine long weekend. school starts this week for
> her which will limit our excursions.
> good night all.
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