Fitness Bob Paddle Bob

Testing, 1, 2, 3 …

The route for my ride as recorded by the Trails app.
The route for my ride as recorded by the Trails app.

I’ve been using the Cyclemeter app to track my rides, but a recent Wall Street Journal story listed several other activity apps that are worth a look, including Trails. I like Cyclemeter, but it’s just for cycling; Trails tracks a range of activities, including hiking.

So I downloaded Trails (it costs about $5/year) and set off on my bike to check it out. Overall, I was happy with it. It gives me pretty much what I was getting with Cyclemeter and allows me to use it for hiking and kayaking, too. For the ride, I headed out toward the Eclipse Company Town at The Plains. It was a great afternoon for a ride, though some ominous clouds were circling. No rain on this parade, though.

Love this place. It's on the bike path right before a beautiful, shaded stretch starts en route to The Plains. Apparently, they're now selling greens and eggs ... though I'm not confident the eggs would make it back with me.
Love this place. It’s on the bike path right before a beautiful, shaded stretch en route to The Plains. Apparently, they’re now selling greens and eggs … though I’m not confident the eggs would make it back with me.

Highlight of the ride was north of Eclipse when a yearling doe jumped onto the bike path about 100 yards ahead of me and turned north when she saw me. I followed her for about a minute or two. I kept pace with her but didn’t want to gain on her for fear of scaring her into doing something that would result in an injury. After running along for a bit, she veered off the trail and into the woods. On the way back, I came up on a four-foot blacksnake crossing the path. He was completely unfazed as I steered into the grass to avoid running him over …

The bike ride was about 16 miles roundtrip and left me pretty happy with Trails so I decided to try it out for paddling.

My route on Dow Lake via the Trails app
My route on Dow Lake via the Trails app

I got to Stroud’s Run at about 11 a.m. just as the kayak rental place was opening. For $10/hour I got the largest non-tandem kayak I could find (an Old Town Heron XT that looked to be about 12 feet and definitely had seen better days). I put the boat in near the beach, started the Trails app and started paddling around Dow Lake, essentially circumnavigating it during the next couple of hours.

After three or four strokes I was reminded how much I miss paddling. Saw a couple of herons while I was out and a river otter, which is always a treat. The otter went under as soon as he saw me but then surfaced and hung around near the riverbank for a while as I watched from 10 or so feet away.

Pasddling up Stroud's Run, which feeds into Dow Lake.
Pasddling up Stroud’s Run, which feeds into Dow Lake.

For the most part, I had the lake to myself. A couple was out in a paddleboat and an angler was working the area near the dam, but I didn’t see anyone else on the water till I paddled back to the boat rental area, where a small navy of kayaks and canoes was heading out for an after lunch paddle. All in, I paddled 5 miles, which wasn’t bad for the first time I’ve been out in about a year.

After these two tryouts I decided to switch to Trails. While it sacrifices some of the granularity that Cyclemeter has, I really like being able to use it for multiple activities. And I’m not so hardcore that I need to go big data here. I’m mostly looking for info on distance traveled, average speed and area covered, all of which Trails provides.

Paddling Dow Lake
Paddling Dow Lake
Paddle Bob

Autumn paddle on Melton Hill Lake

Melton Hill LakeI took advantage of a shimmering autumn afternoon yesterday to paddle Melton Hill Lake. I put in at the dam and headed upstream, pausing to paddle up Hope Creek. Fall colors still were clinging to a few trees along the shoreline, but for the most part the woods had receded into their winter attire. This is part of the Pellissippi Blueway, which I’ve been paddling a section at a time. I saw a lot of blue herons and kingfishers along the way. The highlight was a glimpse of a pilated woodpecker as he flitted from one dead tree to another. I paddled to the rhythm of his thumping as I continued upstream

I really like this stretch of the lake. Much of it is TVA land and isn’t developed. I saw only a few clusters of homes and docks as I made my way upstream. It’s very different from Loudon, which is a sprawling suburb of a lake, bristling with lawns and houses and other attempts to impose order on nature.

I also took a side trip up Hope Creek, where I saw a great crumbling dock. I’ve been thinking about embarking on a mission next summer to start photographing these artifacts of lakeside bliss.

Today, I’m paying the price. I got carried away and put in almost 13 miles of paddling yesterday. It didn’t help that a  headwind came up while I was paddling back toward the dam. The final few miles were a slog. But it was worth it.

Here’s a GPS image of the route I paddled. More images are here.

GPS image of Melton Hill Lake paddle

Paddle Bob

Paddling Glenville Lake

I’m not a golfer and I have little interest in spas.

So when Lara and I drove over the Dragon and into northeast Georgia to meet her brother, sister-in-law and another couple for a weekend in the mountains, I strapped the kayak to the top of the truck intending to explore nearby lakes.

After debating between Nantahala Lake and Glenville Lake in North Carolina, I opted for the latter, mostly because it looked a tad closer to where we were staying and it looked very remote. The drive over there definitely suggested it would be remote. I entered the GPS coordinates for Pine Creek boat ramp (N 35o 11′ 41”  W 83o 10′ 22”) into my Garmin. The GPS took me over some rough terrain, including a single lane dirt road that ran up and over the mountains, but eventually I found the ramp.

The lake was built by Alcoa in the 1940s and currently is owned by Duke Power. While it’s a pretty lake, it’s not as remote as I’d hoped. There are a lot of vacation homes along the shoreline and there was a good bit of boat traffic on the water, though it mostly was pontoons and ski boats. No Vol Navy yachts throwing off six-foot wakes on this lake.

I paddled a large loop, covering 9.9 miles in all and getting back to the cabin in time to see most of the Alabama game. Not a bad way to spend a football Saturday.