During an approximately 14 mile roundtrip Friday, I paddled Lost Creek Branch, re-explored Copper Branch, and for the first paddled Anderton Branch on Tims Ford Lake. My left shoulder hurt again the first mile or so, then no longer pained me.
A house on the lake with sign proclaiming that it is or occupies Britney Point appears derelict in spite of the fact of its evidently recent construction, huge size, elaborate outdoor entertainment areas, and covered dock. I first saw the house a year or two ago, and wrote about it at my Yahoo blog. At the time, I wondered, “What happened to these people?”
Yesterday I found myself wondering the same thing. The white-painted wood frame doors at the back porch hung sagging from their hinges with torn screens. The many windows appeared lifeless and still, the speedboat continued to mildew in its covered slip, and its woodwork has rotted green. I was surprised and somewhat heartened to note that none of the black windows appeared broken. Somebody, maybe the wind, has cleared away the dock’s cobwebs and the dusty orange lifejackets piled haphazard trailing their straps into the murky lakewater. Buckets and field tile littered the leaf-covered steep hillside.
I ate part of my lunch across from the three-storey brick derelict, while seated on a beam set up on cinder-blocks near a dry dock and two circles of of folding chairs in need of burning. Certainly other things had been burned nearby. Moss grew heavy on one tree’s limb – not unusual, but for some reason I noticed it.
Paddling back out Copper Branch, elaborate houses on my right cluttered the shore like an expensive ghetto. Two guys in a bassboat sped up and down Lost Creek, Copper, and I later saw them at Anderton, branches. I never did see them fishing. My guess is they were making a burglary list of houses that’ve been closed up for winter.
On Anderton Branch, which I’ve bypassed at least three times before, I saw and heard a large, ungainly bearded man berate a little boy for having broken a “thurday dollah” gew-gaw in his tackle box, “These don’t just fall off, you broke it off!” Sheesh, like I’m sure the little kid deliberately broke whatever the aitch it was. They’d been bank fishing but had come by boat, which was pulled up on the shore. The kid was in the boat. I slowed, but don’t think the man physically beat the child. What he said to the boy, and the way he said it was beating enough.
At farthest corner of Anderton Branch, I came to a public boat ramp I never knew was there. But when I looked at my map, there it was plainly shown – Anderton Branch Public Access Area. I stopped, stretched, ate the rest of my lunch. After that, I threw some trash away at the garbage can next to the dock’s boardwalk, and noticed that Colby and Chrissy had declared the eternal nature of their presumably romantic attachment no less than three times in graven characters upon the structure’s upright supports. Gad, I thought, who would name his son after a cheese? Then I thought, this is what I would expect of someone named for a cheese. Then I noticed the sheer number of names and messages carved upon the dock’s every surface. They spoke all at once momentarily unfiltered into my brain through my eyes. I realized this was a significant anthropological find, and set about photographing many of the most striking glyphs.
Having completed that important work, I set out to return to my car, Thursday, and then home.
But first I paddled out of Anderton Branch in a more southerly arc than proved adviseable, completely overshot the main channel of Lost Creek Branch, and found myself unbenownst at the mouth of Ray Branch staring due south at the smaller of the two islands near Tims Ford Dam. I shouldn’t be seeing these, I thought, then turned my back on the islands and paddled north. In the distance, the channel narrowed. I saw a rocky outcrop that didn’t look familiar. I saw a line of colorful jugs floating in the distance. To my right I saw another channel, its features likewise unfamiliar.
Excrement, I thought, I’m lost, and the last of my food just eaten. Not so lost I don’t know where I am, just lost enough to be unsure how to return to where I want to be. Grateful I’d had the last-minute sense to bring both map and compass, I put my back to that small island, found the island on my map, consulted my compass, consulted my map, looked due north, marked a feature, found it on the map, and paddled back to Lost Creek Branch.
The breeze freshened as I paddled northwest, and I paddled with renewed vigor, happy with the wind’s resistance.