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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Nickajack Dam to Chattanooga with Nathan and Dallas - Day 2

April 9, 2013

Last night was cool, and I got up about 4:00 am to shut the windows on the boat. After breakfast, we explored the downtown area again, then from the boat we cruised around the waterfront and stopped at MacLellan Island, which is a nature preserve with primitive camping facilities.
Blue Heron nests on MacLellan Island.
Access to MacLellan Island was more suited to canoes and kayaks, but we managed to find a spot where we could get off the boat.

MacLellan Island has great hiking trails.

Proud parents along the Chattanooga Riverfront.

After lunch at Five Guys, we left Chattanooga about noon, headed upstream for Chickamauga Lock and Dam, stopping along the way to cruise up Chickamauga Creek, where a large cottonmouth water moccasin crossed in front of us.
Water Moccasin crossing Chickamauga Creek.

When we were about 10 minutes from the lock, I radioed them to request an upstream lock, and was told we would have a wait of approximately 2 hours while a tow made two trips through the lock to get all his barges through. We'd had to wait  on 2 other occasions at the Chickamauga Lock, and I thought we'd just had a run of poor timing. A check of the lock information revealed the problem. This lock is much smaller than most others on the river systems, so many of the towboats pushing multiple barges have to break them down and take their barges through in smaller groups. The lockmaster was very helpful and instructed us to a spot where the water was calm for us to wait. The towboat had brought 2 barges down, and was entering the lock to go back up and retrieve his last 2 barges. We waited, talking to fishermen in the area and relaxing.
As we entered the lock, the upstream gate is holding back a 44' tall wall of water!

Finally, the tow emerged from the lock again, pushing his last 2 barges. The Lockmaster radioed us and said we were clear to enter the lock as soon as the towboat passed by us. We entered the lock and tied up to a bollard in the wall on the upstream end of the lock. The gates closed and we began the 44 foot rise up to Chickamauga Lake. Nathan had a concerned look on his face when the gates closed and he realized we were in in the chamber with a 44 foot tall wall of water just behind the upstream gate. He said it was"a little ominous" looking. Thirty minutes later we were motoring out onto Chickamauga Lake, were we turned to starboard and crossed to the far shoreline to Chickamauga Marina. We made arrangements to take a shower there, and possibly spending the night. An employee there, Mark, was extremely helpful, making sure we had everything we needed. After a hot shower, I radioed the lock again and asked about locking back downstream before sundown. The answer was that they could get us locked through, but it would be near dark or later, so we decided to stay at the marina and hope to get through the lock first when they open in the morning.
Dallas' cooking skills were impressive, and the pork chops were terrific!

We motored upstream a couple of miles and found a quiet slough at a state park, where we threw out the anchor and started the grill. Dallas took cooking duty, and grilled the pork chops to perfection! When supper was finished, we made the leisurely trip back to the marina and tied up at the fuel dock for the night.

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