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

Wake-up call


As I paddle past groggy, grumpy herons, I see an osprey take flight at the entry to Duck Cove. I hope  this means they’re nesting somewhere in the trees up on Saltpeter Bluff.

It’s a perfect morning. Sunrise is shooing away the fog that settled on the water overnight, and I realize how long it’s been since I’ve been on the water at daybreak. To my mind, it’s without a doubt the best time to paddle. Dorsal fins slice through pollen-stained water. A muskrat swims parallel to me along the shore. Kingfishers, titmice and swallows percolate overhead. To think, I almost opted for another slog on the elliptical instead of going down to the dock and dropping the kayak in the water …

I decide to paddle over to Prater Flats, crossing the main channel of Loudon and hugging the south shore until I reach the entrance to the Flats. From there, I head up to International Harbor Marina (not sure what’s international about it) in Friendsville. I paddle around Prater Flats for a while before deciding to head home. All told, it’s 9.7 miles of bliss. I can’t wait to do it again.

Here’s a GPS/Google Earth image of my route …