Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back Story — Little Tennessee River

Camp trip this past weekend in the mountains.  Here we are paddling up a tributary of the Little Tennessee.  Our 1 year old is in Katie's lap — her first time camping.  While it wouldn't be impossible to backpack in with the fam, Lewis and Clarking it with the canoe allowed more gear and more comfort, and of course the spectacular views that come with coasting along the open water as it snakes through the Smokey Mountains.  We camped above the shoals of Slippery Rock Creek pictured here.  I found out later, while researching the trip, that this small trout stream is the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. One morning I fished both sides of the creek without waders for a mile or so never knowing I was jumping from state to state as I zigzagged my way upstream.

Stacked stone and log table we made for cooking.

Katie putting our 1 year old to sleep on the North Carolina side of the stream.

Dormant snail uncovered while gathering stones for table.   Beautiful scenery is always a plus, but nothing strikes me more than animate life.  It tells us that the beauty is not just an anemic leftover from better days, but a viable, authentic life support system.  One of my favorite moments of the trip was when a pack of coyotes simultaneously unleashed a howling in the middle of the night from a trail along a ridge just 40' or so above our tent. After recovering from the initial shock, I roused our 4 year old to make sure he would hear them.  Shortly after they stopped as abruptly as they started and we never heard another peep. There were eggs left over when we packed up to leave the next day and I left them in a clutch between some rocks along the path by the creek.

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