Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Camping Mud Lake - Part 3

I found LC sitting on the dock beside the boat ramp, with Kory sitting close by.
I smiled as I rode into the camp site, unclipped from my bike, and then walked down to the water to greet her.
She had been watching me the entire time, and as I approached her I reached down, held her pretty little furry face in both of my hands, nuzzled her face and greeted her, and then kissed her on top of the head again.
She is a loving, sweet, protective, very loyal dog, and after losing Jamie I wasn't really sure how life would work with this stranger that we had adopted from Florida.
I am very glad that she somehow, and against all odds, found her way into our lives.
Leaving Kory at the end of the boat dock I walked across the wooden structure and greeted my Mountain Boy.
He was contentedly sitting in the shade, playing with his tackle box and occasionally throwing out a line.
He proudly announced that he had caught a fish.
With a piece of ham fat for bait.
Where is it?  
I threw it back.  It was just a little one.
You threw it back??  Yeah......right.
No really!
I believed him but enjoyed jazzing him anyway.
We sat on the boat dock for quite a while - me relaxing and sitting on the wooden dock, he sitting in a camp chair obviously enjoying his day.
It was getting warm.
Not the bright sunshine and heat that I had expected after compulsively checking alphabet-soup agency NOAA, but the watery off-and-on sunshine felt good.
With both man and dog still content to stay where they were, I decided that I would kayak.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them.  There are many with birds in them, that are difficult to see at this size.............
The water was completely calm, and for a short while I paddled around the perimeter of the cove, looking for birds or water animals and anything else that would capture my attention.
I looked over at my Mountain Boy and my pup and waved when I realized that they were both watching me.
OK........time to head out of the cove and into the lake proper.............
Heading towards the pier that we fished from when we first arrived at the camp ground.
I seek out water at every opportunity.
If I believed in such things I would guess that it was because my astrological sign is Aquarius.
If I believed in such things I would guess that it is because my people were vikings - explorers of the sea and conquering warriors of land and peoples, and their blood runs through my veins.
Perhaps it is simply because I love the water - had jobs by the water, adventure raced and spent much time in the water (and had hypothermia more times than I care to remember as a result of paddling in freezing cold water).
 I love to see it, be near it, swim and kayak and canoe in it.
And with that realization, I was once again grateful that we had found a camper.
The world looks completely different from the lake than it does from land..............
Every time I see my Calvin and Hobbs "life's short - go kayaking naked" sticker I smile.
I bought the kayak at a yard sale in Tennessee before I even met LC, and on a whim bought the sticker off Ebay a few weeks later.  The only thing I have ever bought on Ebay, but the whimsical sticker always makes me smile and so the aggravation and security concerns were worth it...............
I quietly and easily paddled out of the cove, looked to both my left and right trying to decide which way to go, and since all I could see was trees in both directions I picked right............
I was paddling easily and slowly, more interested in simply enjoying the day and the physical experience of paddling than in trying to see as much as I could in one trip.
LC and I had already decided that we really liked this place very much.
The water was quiet and easily fish-able and paddle-able, there were places to bike, places to explore, birds and wild life to enjoy, there was much green and endless rose bushes, and endless quiet to enjoy each other and the world..
So I was in no big rush to get anywhere (I spent plenty of time rushing to get somewhere when I was racing).
Instead I watched the ducks fast-tracking across the lake surface before picking up enough speed to take flight.
I watched the watery blue sky wondering if the dubious sunshine would hold (it did).
I looked at the world around me and was again aware of just how much this place reminded me of my old stomping grounds at Woods Reservoir in Tennessee.
The mountains in the distance were higher here.  The trees were different but just as green and dense as those at Woods.
This was a protective wild life area for birds, as was my reservoir in Tennessee.
This place reminded me of that place................
I spent over an hour paddling close to shore and balancing precariously while I reached inside my life jacket to retrieve my camera, before deciding that it was time to turn back.
LC and I had talked about going for a drive to search out a lookout tower that was labelled on the Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area map - yes - the same map that we had sworn at repeatedly only the day before...............
One of my favorite pictures from the entire camping trip............
Wandering with my puppy before going for a drive.............
There's no other way to say this so I'll just say it - a man who spent a good deal of time navigating in the jungles of Vietnam and tracking bad guys in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, and a woman who spent years reading and following maps in races all over the eastern side of the United States - followed trail signs (until they suddenly disappeared) and the Mud Lake Wild Life Management Area map - and couldn't find the freakin' overlook.
We saw many jack rabbits, endless BLM trails that looked very much like the trails we have right behind our house, and outstandingly beautiful wetland areas - but no overlook.
We reluctantly came to the conclusion that it no longer exists.
If it EVER actually existed.  For all we knew maybe some low level, bored government bureaucrat got his kicks from just randomly making stuff up.   Who knows?.
Regardless, it was not a bad 90 minute drive.  We actually enjoyed it very much..............
But we also came to two conclusions:
1.  The map is totally useless and completely misleading.  The day before, we had followed trails on the map and found ourselves being very thankful that our camper wasn't bigger than it was.  On this day (as we looked for the overlook) we were grateful that we had four wheel drive.  We wondered how many visitors over the years have found themselves in difficult situations in this park because of inaccurate or inadequate maps.
2.  When we come back to this park we will not follow the maps.  We will simply drive, and wander, and happen upon whatever it is that we happen upon.  The best way to go............
The lake as seen from a knob high up on BLM land.
Seen while scouting for that elusive tower...........
By late afternoon we were back at the campground, and back at our new favorite place.
The boat dock and boat ramp in our own personal and very quiet cove.
I watched something in the water for a very long time.  Something that swam in a straight line barely above the surface of the lake.
When he finally reached the tree limbs extending out from the bank he ducked under the water and disappeared................
I snapped this picture while laying on the boat dock looking at the sky through the trees.............
Kory ate almost nothing the day we arrived at the park, and almost nothing on our second day.
She continued to sleep a lot, often curled up either underneath the camper on on the boat dock.
Thankfully she was hydrated, energetic enough to enjoy and get excited with the prospect of walks, and energetic enough to leap directly up into the air in an excited four-footed jump whenever she saw a bunny.
All that and a cold, wet nose provided us with watchful hope that she was going to be OK.
By the end of this second day she finally ate some food.  A little.  But that was good enough..............
LC took all of these pictures of me kayaking late in the evening.
There was little daylight left, but the evening was still and warm and I knew that this would be my last chance to paddle before leaving the next morning.
We had made arrangements to meet with someone at a campground just north of Mackay the next day.
Two nights at Mud Lake, and one night at a Sportsman Access in Mackay had been the plan.
NOAA promised that the weather would hold, and we had visited the Mackay campsite briefly on the way home from Salmon a few weeks before, so knew that it was a lovely campground close to the river..........
The lake and the mountains have become my landscape, my real world...............Georges Simenon

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