Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tick Island

After relocating his aunt-in-law because of the tornados that hit Alabama, Mike D. came up for a visit. On Saturday, he and C and I headed out to Percy Priest Lake with a kayak, a canoe, and a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks. The plan was to meet up with Jimmy at the Smith Springs boat ramp, paddle out to some of the islands, and enjoy a picnic lunch. Put-in was even easier than we thought since recent rain storms had driven the lake up into the parking lot; we barely had to carry the boats down to the water. But paddling proved to be a windy affair that kept blowing the canoe off course, so we stopped at the first island about a mile from our launch.

We drug a downed tree around to form a bench, and the sandwiches and chips offered a welcome respite from paddling. However, it wasn't long before Mike found a tick crawling up his leg. Like the tick that embedded itself in my knee over at Long Hunter State Park, this one was a female Lone Star Tick, distinguishable by the white dot on its abdomen. We moved our lunch over to a bare dirt area, but our evasion tactics didn't stop the wily blood suckers. In all, Mike found four crawling on his legs, and Jimmy found two. Somehow, C and I escaped the tick onslaught, but after the sixth tick, we packed up our goods, and hit the lake.

Following some paddling around the island, we turned for home and headed into a steady wind, complete with waves going in the wrong direction. Paddling the canoe was a tough go; I finally found that I could angle slightly, allow the wind to push the canoe slightly sideways, and concentrate my paddling on one side. This technique allowed for the most gain, but it was a brutal crossing. Mike's kayak went twice as fast as the canoe, and Jimmy, in his sea kayak, enjoyed ten times my speed. A second paddler would have helped, as would have more weight in the bow, but I finally made it across, dipping behind some shoreline trees and out of the wind and waves.

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