A Jedi Craves Not These Things.

I am talking about “excitement” and “adventure” – so, obviously, I am not a Jedi (although I need to think of a cool Jedi name. “Mace Windu”? That’s flippin’ awesome.). Anyway, it was a weekend filled with excitement and adventure, with 2 bucket list items successfully crossed off.

Saturday, an awesome paddle. The much-anticipated Harrison Bay paddle, exploring the ruins of the town that existed before the dam was constructed and the lake was created. The old town is now underwater most of the time, except in the winter (of course) when the water is low. That meant striking out in 30-degree temperatures, which is just crazy cold in a kayak. Luckily, I was able to find some rubber shoe covers on Amazon, and got them Friday – worked perfectly. I can deal with the cold, but not cold, wet feet for hours and hours in 30 degree temps. So, gym first (because of course), then a drive out to the boat ramp in Harrison. The islands that are exposed in the winter are numerous and scattered, and lie only about a mile from the ramp. I’ve paddled out on the lake before – to nearby Patten Island and from the dam up to Waconda Point, but I’ve never explored the islands in earnest, because those previous trips were the wrong time of year, and the islands and ruins were underwater.

This is a composite map I made from old TVA maps, showing the original town of Harrison (in the center) with the current lake superimposed. Click for larger.

This is a composite map I made from old TVA maps, showing the original town of Harrison (in the center) with the current lake superimposed. Click for larger.

As you can see from the map, when the river was dammed and the lake filled up, Harrison was destroyed. But when the water goes down, you can see remains of the structures – house foundations, old roads, lots of debris. And it was really, really cool. The entire trek was right at 11 miles, about half of which was paddling, and half of which was exploring the islands (in fact, in the map below, it looks like a lot of random paddling, but most of that was actually walking on the exposed islands that don’t appear on the map, since they only exist a few months out of the year). I’m extremely glad I did this, because I grew up in the area, and had always heard rumors about the old town. Seeing it first-hand, walking on those submerged roads, was awesome. And despite it being 30 degrees when I started out, by the end of the adventure, it was warm and sunny. A perfect paddle.

Click for much larger, or Movescount data.

Click for much larger, or Movescount data.

I guess next, I need to composite all the lake paddles into one map, like I did my hiking map (more on that below). And because I didn’t get to explore Patten Island, I’ll be heading back in a few weeks to undertake that. It’s a big island, so that’ll be an all-day adventure in itself. Oh, and pics on Instagram, as always.

So, that was just Saturday. Sunday, more adventure. I mentioned previously my desire to hike Middle Creek Gorge – well, I did it.

Not a long hike – about 6 miles total (and only about 4 miles in the gorge itself) – but super-tough. Middle Creek is at the bottom of the mountain between Signal Point and Edwards Point, and it’s littered with boulders, waterfalls, whitewater, and very few trails. But it was spectacular. So worth it (even after – you guessed it – the gym). About 200 feet in elevation shift, some of it almost straight up. And really, I can’t resist a good photo op, even if it means climbing huge (and potentially dangerous) rocks, or crossing raging water (yeah, Instagram). This place is truly a hidden gem, and I drive past it all the time, but have never stopped. Lesson learned.

Click for larger, or Movescount data

Click for larger, or Movescount data

I have also composited this map into my full trails map that I originally posted last week – you’ll see it right in the middle, along the river. This gives some perspective of the relationship between Middle Creek and the other Signal Mountain area trails.

peeps-oreosSadly, it’s not all good news, though. Saturday, I fell face-first (and mouth open) into a package of Peeps Oreos. OK, I didn’t fall. I dove. But in my Huge Fat Defense™, I didn’t eat them all; only about 1/3 of the package, and thankfully, the packages are pretty small. Yeah, major, major diet violation; but I did burn about 7000 calories Saturday, and another 5000 or so Sunday, so I guess I can let myself slide. After all, what’s the point of going to the gym every friggin’ day, and having 17 miles worth of adventures if you don’t indulge once in a while?