Tick Paralysis

Our story

This is our experience with tick paralysis.

The Pin-Chin-Sky Loop is a beautiful, yet challenging experience that includes significant elevation gain and loss along with technical terrain. There are some breaks from the challenge, of course, and those include calm stretches of shady forest along creeks, and our nemesis, long stretches of overgrown grassy trail.

As with any seasoned hikers, our major concern within these areas are snakes. This is the Southeastern US, of course… it’s snake country, Y’all!

I’ve always viewed ticks as more of a subject of disdain than anything really life-threatening. I mean, logically I know the potential is there for Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, general infection, etc. Tick paralysis never really crossed our minds.

When it came to any actual perceived risk, though, my rose-colored glasses were always on. Our experience over the past weekend changed everything!

Our backpacking trip started with a night at Turnipseed Campground on Sunday 7/29 so we could get an early start leaving from Adams Gap on 7/30. Everything went off without a hitch (just kidding, but that’s for another post). 12 miles on the 30th and another 11 on the 31st, and we were exhausted and back at the car, heading home.

The real story begins.

Based on the number of ticks we had pulled off of ourselves during the trip, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me with these little long-haired dogs once we got back home. I checked both of them every night after work, and pulled off more ticks than I can count from each dog. It’s a bad season for them, from what I understand.

Just to provide a little background information: each dog has worn a Seresto collar since April, which places the collar well within its functional limits of 8 months. This collar, although aimed at flea control (for which it has been flawless on both dogs), is also indicated for tick control. I thought I’d give it a shot this year, since Frontline Plus no longer works for either of the dogs, and my vet has told me on more than one occasion that it is simply ineffective these days.

Porter cannot tolerate Nexgard at all, so I took that option off the table and went for the Seresto. Since both are senior dogs, I always hesitate to try something new on them, but both have tolerated the collar very well, so I decided to just be extra vigilant on tick picking after each trip.

After this particular trip, I noticed that roughly 40% of the ticks I found on Porter were already dead. That’s not great, but for a dog that has already had an adverse reaction to Nexgard, it’s acceptable. For Hagrid, it was a different story. Maybe 20% of the ticks I found on him were dead. At the rate I pulled ticks off of these dogs, that’s really not good. The rest of the week was normal as can be, until it wasn’t.

Timeline of our experience.

Saturday, 8/4

9:00 AM

I got up as usual to get ready for work. The dogs went out and I noticed that Hagrid looked a little wobbly. This is unusual, despite him being nearly 16 years old. Then again, we did complete the toughest hike he’s been a part of just a few days prior- I chalked it up to delayed onset muscle soreness.

12:30 PM

I got a call from Jack saying that the unsteadiness had rapidly progressed to stumbling and loss of balance. Panicked, I went home immediately to find an emergency vet, as my usual office is an hour away and is closed after 12:30 on Saturdays.

2:00 PM

We found a highly rated emergency vet and Hagrid got an exam and bloodwork. All bloodwork came back completely normal. The vet briefly discussed tick paralysis (and found 3-4 ticks during the exam), but diagnosed Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. This is a disorder that is somewhat common in old dogs, and affects the inner ear to the extent that the dog has trouble maintaining balance. The condition normally resolves itself within 4-5 days. They sent us home with an anti-nausea medication and we were instructed to let him rest.

Tick paralysis
Little sad face.

8:00 PM

Hagrid has never really been one to lose appetite, and he ate and drank and took his pill without issue that night. He still looked pretty wobbly, but the symptoms didn’t seem to progress.

The next day

Sunday, 8/5

8:30 AM

Hagrid was completely unable to stand. There was no muscle tone, and when I picked him up it was like picking up a 20-pound wet noodle. He wouldn’t accept water and would barely eat a treat- this, of course, was VERY unusual.

9:00 AM

I called the emergency vet, who recommended bringing Hagrid back to keep him overnight until the neurologist returned Monday and could give a neurological exam/tests. We hemmed and hawed on this for a bit, because honestly, what are they going to be able to tell us without the neurologist there?

Very much out of character for him.

 

10:00 AM

I was an absolute mess. Jack reminded me of the possibility of tick paralysis and encouraged me to keep looking. I said “But the vets already looked for them! They found a few, I’m sure that’s all that were left. I think he’s dying.” I had a good cry and tried to prepare myself for the worst.

11:00 AM

I figured what the hell, I’ll try to find some ticks… really go over this dog head to toe, and then do it again, and again. I got the comb and tweezers out and started checking.

2:30 PM

The real-deal, Hail Mary tick checking is done. 11 more ticks in a Ziploc bag to take to my regular vet on Monday, just in case he can test them or do something. I found 4 of them just between his toes! How could I have missed so many when I had been looking every day?

4:00 PM

Time for another serious check, just in case…. this one turned up nothing. I removed his Seresto collar, on the off chance that it could have caused neurological side effects after 4 months- another Hail Mary.

8:00 PM

Hagrid started drinking water for the first time since Saturday, and even ate a half portion of his dinner. I pulled him up to a sitting position, and his front legs were strong enough to support his weight for a few seconds. This doesn’t sound like much, but it was a huge improvement!

8:30 PM

The third tick check of the day revealed a big nasty one on the back of his left leg, close to the base of his tail. Once again, I was shocked that I missed it after multiple head to toe checks. Into the bag it went.

10:30 PM

Hagrid crawled about 2 feet across the bed to get a french fry. I was ecstatic!

11:30 PM

Hagrid stood up on his own! I carried him down the deck stairs to pee outside, and he even took a few steps. Great sign! He went to bed in his favorite closet shortly after.

Monday, 8/6

7:30 AM

As Hagrid is profoundly deaf, I tapped him to wake him up for morning pee time. To my surprise, he got right up, walked down the stairs, and did all his business, with no help!

11:00 AM

Finally, my regular vet was able to see Hagrid! By this time, I had no doubt that his actual diagnosis would be tick paralysis, but I wanted him to get a checkup anyway because research told me that tick paralysis can cause heart arrhythmia.

I had a Ziploc bag of 12 nasty ticks, just in case, but as I suspected it would have been prohibitively expensive to send them for analysis so they weren’t needed. My vet listened to Hagrid’s heart and confirmed that there was no arrhythmia.

I described the backpacking trip, and my vet was shocked that such an old guy could tough it out for 23 miles! He actually said that Hagrid is one of the healthiest 15-year-old dogs he has ever seen.

I left with a 7 month supply of Nexgard (Hagrid has had it before and tolerated it well, Porter will stick to Seresto for now), and an off-label use of Capstar. This is officially indicated only for fleas, but may help with any remaining ticks. I’d say that I got them all, but if this awful experience has taught me anything, it’s that you never really know.

6:40 PM

As I’m writing this post, we’ve been home from the vet for about 5 hours now. Hagrid has begged for Popeye’s chicken, snuck out of the garage to meet the new neighbor children, and just generally been his wonderful pain-in-the-ass self.

Conclusion

I will never again underestimate the potential nastiness of a tick bite, in dogs OR humans. Please remember to ALWAYS check your dog, and yourself for ticks. This includes between the toes and around the pads!

If you have a dog that is able to tolerate Nexgard (dogs generally do very well on this, I just have a rare exception with Porter), it is definitely worth the cost for the peace of mind.

If your dog does NOT tolerate Nexgard or other preventatives, consider buying a dose of Capstar after your tick-infested hike just in case- it is indicated for fleas only, so tick control is technically off-label use, but my vet says that it can help with ticks as well. At any rate, it’s 12 bucks.

And humans- tick paralysis is very rare, but can happen to us too! Be vigilant and be safe! Tick paralysis in humans is most common in children and for some reason, young girls are the most susceptible.

 

Carters Lake: Boat in Camping

Carters Lake

Carters Lake
Sunset at Carters Lake

Carters Lake is the deepest lake in Georgia, with a depth of over 450 feet and an average depth of 200 feet. The lake is approximately 3,200 acres and has 62 miles of shoreline. The Army Corp of Engineers owns Carters Lake, so this lake has no private residences on the shoreline. The lake’s dam is the highest earthen dam east of the Mississippi River and was completed in 1977.

The Coosawattee River which forms Carters Lake was at one time revered as having the best whitewater in the southeast. In fact, it is the river that inspired, Tom Dickey’s novel Deliverance, which was later adapted into a screenplay and made into a movie.

This is a young, beautiful lake and fortunately not very popular. Though there are no private residences on the lake, there is a marina and a few campgrounds. From what we saw, the private campgrounds are more geared toward R/V use. We stayed in the boat in/Hike in primitive camping area on the north side of the lake, east of the dam.

Carters Lake
Ready to launch
Carters Lake
Carters Lake Boat Ramp
Carters Lake
Carters Lake Campground

Boat in Camping

The boat in primitive campground was our destination for this trip (you can also hike in). We chose to launch our kayaks from the public boat ramp near Woodring Branch Campground. There is a fee of five dollars per day for day use and camping. We stopped and paid our fee and off to the boat ramp we went. We saw some Mexican guys fishing there and gave them some advice about buying kayaks. The guy I was talking to said that he “needs to make a white friend because we are crazy.” Apparently, his buddy couldn’t swim and was afraid of the water.  After a little more banter we got our kayaks packed with our gear, loaded up the dogs and launched the boats.

It was a nice and peaceful 1.5-mile paddle across the lake to the peninsula where the campground was. There were some power boats out on the lake and some other kayakers as well, but not an overwhelming amount of traffic.

Peninsula Campground

We landed the kayaks at the first spot that we saw and explored the campground for possible sites. As it turns out, the one we landed at was the one most suited for us. There was one other person camping at the campground, and they were on the opposite side of the peninsula.

Carters Lake
Pulling into the campground.
Carters Lake
Our landing zone

The campground here is very well kept and has twelve sites with great amenities. Each site is lakeside and has a lantern post, grill, picnic table, fire ring, tent pad and a trash can. There are also two outhouses stocked with toilet paper. Marcie and I refer to this as luxury camping. (we do a lot of backpacking) However, it was a challenge finding a spot to hang our hammocks side by side, but we made it work. If you don’t need to be side by side, disregard the last sentence.

 

Carters Lake
Our campsite
Carters Lake
Another campsite
Carters Lake
One more
Privy

This is a great place to get away if you have a kayak or canoe. You can also hike two miles into the campground on the Amadahy LoopTrail.  I don’t know how much traffic this campground gets on the weekends because we got there on a Sunday afternoon. When we were checking out the other campsites, only a few looked like they had been used recently. Being that the only way in other than boat is a two-mile hike, I imagine that limits the number of visitors this place sees. It probably also helped that the kids were already back in school when we took this trip in late September.

Just A Nice Relaxing Place

If I had three thumbs, they would all be pointing up for Carters Lake Boat-In Campground. As I mentioned earlier, there was some traffic on the lake, but nothing obnoxious. Just people out fishing on pontoon boats and pulling the kids around on those things you pull kids on behind boats. We talked to some other kayakers who passed by about the campsites. They were in awe of the setup as well and said that they were definitely coming back to do their own little camping trip there.

Carters Lake
Our little setup
Carters Lake
That’s right

Like most campgrounds, the availability of firewood was pretty lacking close to the campsites. I had to get in the kayak and paddle across the cove outside of the camping area to find some. The trip wasn’t long, just far enough away from where most people are willing to walk to gather firewood. Once I landed the kayak and got on the trail, (which is actually a service road) I didn’t even need to leave the path to find some suitable wood to cook our dinner. It did require a little sawing and chopping with my tomahawk and manual chainsaw to be able to load it into the kayak, but it wasn’t too much work. If you have the right tools, it really doesn’t take much wood to make a nice cooking fire.

Carters Lake
Batoning firewood

After splitting the wood I had gathered, it was time to light the fire and make some dinner. Our camp dinner that night was Johnsonville cheddar and jalapeno sausages cooked over open flames. We brought some Bush’s honey beans as well, but after three sausages a piece, we had no room left for the beans.

Rest and Relaxation

By the time dinner was done and cleaning up, it was time for some serious relaxation.  The time had come to lay in our hammocks and take in the sounds of Carters Lake along with some audio files from our phones.

The lake was pretty peaceful, although, there were a few boats out and I heard some music coming from the marina. The music wasn’t really loud and if I recall correctly, it was classic rock, and it stopped when I turned our lantern off. I’m guessing that whoever was playing the music was aware that we were out there camping and respected that we were trying to enjoy some quiet time.

While I was laying there in my hammock I could hear the occasional fish breaking the surface of the water. The splashes were pretty loud, so I imagine they were some pretty big fish. I just laid there and listened to the ripple of the water and occasional bird singing and eventually drifted off to sleep to the peace and quiet of the night.

A New Day

We slept in until about eight and rolled out of our hammocks to get the coffee going. I brought the percolator with me, so we actually got to have real coffee on this trip. We usually have to settle for instant on our backpacking trip. It gets the job done, but it tastes like, well, you know what it tastes like. After getting thoroughly caffeinated, I worked up an appetite by splitting a little more wood, so we could cook our breakfast.

For breakfast, I started a fire on the grill with the little bit of wood that I gathered the day before and split that morning. I got some good coals going and it was time to cook. The menu consisted of some chorizo, black beans, eggs, Mexican melting cheese, and tortillas. We love breakfast burritos!

Wood for a breakfast fire.
Looking forward to some breakfast burritos.
Chorizo
They’re never far from the actions.

While cooking breakfast I heard a motorized vehicle and saw that it was the maintenance crew on their Gator. They came by and emptied the trash and we spoke with them for a few minutes. They told us that they come out twice a week on Monday and Thursday to empty the trash, clean up and restock the outhouses.

After breakfast, we cleaned the dishes and, Marcie decided to do a little lounging in her hammock. While she was enjoying her relaxation time, I decided to practice a little tree identification with my Peterson Field Guide on eastern trees.

Unfortunately, the time came to pack up and leave our little paradise. We got everything packed up onto our boats and said goodbye to the campground. The paddle back to the boat ramp was super peaceful and there was almost nobody on Carters Lake that day. Hagrid even decided that he was going to walk the plank and take a dip.

Carters Lake
Right before he jumped in.

 

Conclusion

Carters Lake is a great place to kick back and relax for a short overnight, weekend, or even a week. The primitive campground is open year round and with a fee of only $5 per day to park, you just can’t beat this place.

You can pack plenty of supplies into a kayak or canoe to make your stay as comfortable as you want. If you don’t have a boat, the two-mile hike makes it pretty easy to access for backpacking as well. Since the trail in is really a service road, I imagine that if you had one of those wagons with the big off-road tires, you could bring a lot more gear. (just a thought)

Carters Lake is pristine and is known for its clear blue water. If you are looking for a place to have a nice relaxing, low maintenance camping trip, this is the place to do it. Just don’t forget to bring your water filter because just about the only amenity this campground doesn’t have is running water.

So get out there and enjoy one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets and remember to leave this place cleaner than you found it, your kids will thank you one day. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the comment box below, or shoot us an email.

Thanks for reading.

Carters Lake
Such a beautiful Lake

 

Click the pins for directions.

The top pin is directions to hike in.

The bottom pin will take you to boat in.

The directions will get you to Woodring Campground. Pass Woodring and follow the signs to the boat ramp.

 

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Cheaha Wilderness: Overnight on Nubbin Creek Trail

Nubbin Creek Trail

Nubbin Trailhead Parking Area

Nubbin Creek Trailhead is just outside of the Cheaha Wilderness Area in the Talladega National Forest near Anniston, Alabama. The trailhead is located on a small gravel culdesac off Nubbin Creek Rd. The turn is well marked with the typical yellow and brown FS trailhead sign.

After pulling into the culdesac there are two trails: one to the left and one to the right. The trail to the right is Nubbin Creek Trail. The one on the left has an oddly placed fire ring directly in the middle of the trail and I’ve read there is a secluded campsite at the end, but I can’t confirm that first hand.

Taking the trail to the right, you will see a trail sign telling you that you are on the right path. You can also access Cave Creek Trail and the Odum Scout Trail from here as well. Just ahead you will see an FS kiosk to the left.

Cheaha Wilderness
About 50 feet in on the right.
Cheaha Wilderness
About 100 feet in on the left.
Cheaha Wilderness
NIce clear path

Planning The Trip

I planned this trip as an easy overnight to just get away for the weekend. We wanted to do some easy camping and just relax for this one. It being Labor Day weekend, we knew car camping would be a no go. Primitive campgrounds would be full of loud drunks and amateur campers. I’m not even going to go into the State Parks. I knew that Nubbin Creek Trail doesn’t normally have very much traffic and decided that was our best option to get away for the night.

I found a spot on the map that appeared to be suitable for camping and figured that there should be an established campsite with water not too far. The spot I chose was on a ridgeline about 2 1/4 miles in, where the trail begins to head west toward Parker High Point and the Odum Trail.

Time to Hike

We began our hike heading north on the trail and the persimmons were in full fruit. Eventually, we made our way to Mill Shoal Creek and there was a trail to the right, but we continued left with the creek on our right.  We could hear the cascades in the background, but this time of year it is still too overgrown to really get a good view from Nubbin Trail. There are spur trails that head down to get a view, but this wasn’t our plan for this trip. We decided that we would come back once the leaves had fallen and given way for a better view in the late fall or early winter.

Nubbin Creek Trailhead
Maps and walkie-talkies.

A close call with a resident

As we were making our way up the trail we came across a timber rattler sunning itself right in the middle of the trail. He was was just a little guy, about three and a half feet long. I immediately had, Marcie keep the dogs behind her and I tried to push him off the trail with my walking stick. He was not having any part of it. It seemed that he liked his little sunbathing spot and was yielding for no one.

My attempt to get him off the trail with my stick only convinced him that he should take his defensive posture and coil while shaking his rattle. I took some pictures of him and tried to wait him out, but to no avail, he was parked and not going anywhere without a little more force. I pushed him with my stick and I was completely expecting him to strike but he didn’t. Then I pushed him back a good foot or so and he just kept rattling at me. Finally, after I had poked at him a few more times with my walking stick, he moved off of the trail and rested under a rock beside the trail.

 

Cheaha Wilderness
Fat little guy.

Back on Track

The trail continued along the Mill Shoals Creek for a short distance. The trail dipped south and separated from the creek and then U-Turned back north. There are a lot of dried up old creek beds and at least one small brook crossing on this part of the trail. I doubt this brook is a reliable water source year round, but I can’t say for sure. Nubbin continued north for about half a mile until we met up with Mill Shoal Creek again, this time crossing it and witnessing a beautiful little waterfall to the left. The trail jogged east for about a 1/8 of a mile and then to the west for about another 1/8 of a mile, before coming to another creek crossing. This area of the trail also had quite a few dried up creek beds and another brook.

Cheaha Wilderness
NIce waterfall on the Nubbin Creek Trail

After the creek crossing Nubbin veers to the east for a small jaunt and then back to the north. This part of the trail opens up and there is clear view of the valley to the east. After about 1/4 mile the trail comes to a series of small knobs on a ridgeline and then heads west. This is where we found our campsite (just as I had predicted from looking at the map). The campsite we found was about 250 feet after the trail headed west on the right. There was an old fire ring and plenty of trees to hang our tarp and hammocks from.

Exploration Was In Order

After camp was set and I had a snack, I looked at my map and plotted a little trip to take to check out Cave Creek. I found the spot I wanted to check out,  set the bearing on my compass and off I went. After walking for about ten minutes I found an old jeep track and decided to follow it instead of my original route. The jeep track headed down a steep hill and it was evident that no one had traveled this road in a while. Along the way, I saw some old beer cans with the old peel off lids. The only tracks I saw were animal tracks and there were a few blowdowns blocking the path.

I love walking old roads in the backcountry because you never know what you’re going to come across along the way. That was definitely the case on this old road. I came upon some bearing trees and a property marker at a corner of the Cheaha Wilderness boundary. I find these things pretty cool myself, but hey, I admit that I’m a dork.

Cheaha Wilderness
Cheaha Wilderness Boundary Marker
Cheaha Wilderness
I found this on the edge of the Cheaha Wilderness
Cheaha Wilderness
Cheaha Wilderness Boundary Marker
Cheaha Wilderness
Corner of the Wilderness

Continuing to Cave Creek

After taking the pictures of the markers I followed the road for a little longer until I found an area that was clear enough for me to make my way to the creek. I built a small cairn and found a unique looking tree to mark my spot and headed for Cave Creek. After walking for about a thousand feet, climbing over a few downed trees and scraping my legs up on some thorns along the way. I got to the creek bank and I had to climb down about six feet to actually be able to stand at the edge of the creek. The bank on the other side of the creek was nice and level and no climbing was involved at all.

Cave Creek is crystal clear and the water was just above frigid. I decided to take the opportunity to dip my visor in the water to cool my head off.  It was nice and quiet back there. All I could hear was the occasional bird chirping, squirrels rustling about and the water flowing. There were a few of what I like to call smurf waterfalls that were beautiful, so I snapped a couple of pictures.

Cheaha Wilderness
Notice the tree is growing in the middle of the creek.
Cheaha Wilderness
Crystal clear water on Cave Creek
Cheaha Wilderness
Roots forming a smurf waterfall
Cheaha Wilderness
I don’t know how I find these spots.
Cheaha Wilderness
A little closer look at the tree.

 

Back to Camp

I took it all in for a little while, listening to nature speak her language. I am always more at peace when I am out in the wilderness. In a comforting way, it makes me feel more human. Marcie was probably wondering where I was, so I had to leave this little spot and head back to camp. I headed back toward the old road, found my tree, made a right and saw my cairn. I headed back the way I had come and on the way back I found a turkey feather. I’m not sure why, but I stuck it into the ground as if I was marking my path.

As I mentioned before on the way in the road went down a steep hill. So obviously, my trek back was all uphill. Did I mention that it was a steep hill?

Our camp was in sight when I noticed that there was a small brook about five-hundred feet. This was a total score because I thought the closest water source was the last creek we had crossed on the way in. This offered me a little relief because it’s always nice to have a water source close by.

Getting Ready For The Night

It always makes us happy when firewood is in abundance. This one of the many reasons that we love the backcountry. We have never had any problem finding firewood in the Cheaha Wilderness, or any wilderness for that matter. As much as we love to car camp. It can be a challenge to find wood, even in the most primitive campgrounds.

I got a chance to try out the new manual chainsaw that I had just bought from Wal-Mart, of all places. Never underestimate the camping section at Wal-Mart. I have found some pretty cool stuff on their shelves. The saw worked pretty good for what it was, and even though I got some blisters from it. I give it a thumbs up. The best part is, it’s pretty lightweight and very packable.

We used our backpacking stoves to make our Knorr’s pasta sides and cooked the sausages on the fire. The Johnsonville precooked sausages are great for the first night on the trail. I would even go as far as packing them for two nights. The Knorr’s sides are a buck and come in a huge variety of flavors. It only takes 1-2/3 cup of water and you can put some powdered milk with them and then cook for about 7-8 minutes. They make a great backcountry meal.

Yipping and Howling Through the Night

After dinner, we hung the remainder of our food and then settled into our hammocks. We listened to some audiobooks on my phone and just chatted about the day, and how we wished that we could stay longer than just a night.

Every time we are in Alabama we hear the same strange bird call at night.  Neither of us has any idea what it is, but it sounds weird, not creepy or freaky, just weird. After about an hour or so, we started to hear the coyotes in the distance. They were really far at first, but they were definitely getting closer.

They make those yips back and forth to each other and have a trick where they can make two or three sound like a pack. Marcie had been asleep for about two hours when they got so close that they woke her. At this point, we were well aware of each others presence. We heard them start howling and I’ve read that they usually only howl when threatened, or use it as a warning. They were probably only about fifty to seventy-five yard away from us. They got close enough that I had to yell at them and scare them away. I don’t really worry about them hurting me or, Marcie, but our dogs are small and that’s what worries me. Our little old guys would make a nice meal for a couple of hungry coyotes.

It seemed that my yelling scared them away, but it was hard for me to sleep after that. I made sure to keep the fire going all night, and from time to time, I could still hear them in the distance. I guess I scared them pretty good because they were pretty far off, and in a completely different direction. Maybe it was another group. Who knows?

Time To Say Good-Bye

The morning came around and I got up and pulled the food bag from the tree. The first business of the day was to put on the coffee. Shortly after, Marcie woke up and we had morning coffee together. We decided to skip cooking breakfast and just have some snacks before packing up and hiking out. Our dogs are old and they get tired if we get started too late in the day. So the decision was made to get back to the trailhead and drive down and check out High Falls. It’s a good thing too because Hagrid (14-year-old dog) was dragging that day and making little to no effort at hiking. We got back to the car, put our gear in and made our way to the falls.

Cheaha Wilderness
A little toad we saw on the way out.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a secluded place to do some overnights, Nubbin Creek Trail is a must do. The cascades on Mill Shoal Creek are supposed to be really nice to view in the fall and winter and we are looking forward to going back near the end of the year. The Nubbin Creek Trail ends at the intersections of Cave Creek Trail and the Odum Scout Trail. It’s a nice little gateway into the Cheaha Wilderness from the back door.

I think this trail is overlooked, which is probably a good thing for those of us who like to be alone in the wilderness. I saw no one out there on Labor Day weekend, and, Marcie told me that when I was out on my excursion that two backpackers had walked through. That’s it, another couple, that’s all there was out there. That being said, you would think a trail that lightly trafficked would not be maintained very well. To the contrary, the Nubbin Creek Trail is well maintained and easy to navigate. I highly recommend that you get out to the Cheaha Wilderness and give the Nubbin a whirl.

Cheaha Wilderness
Mushroom action.

 

Click the bubble for directions.

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Oops

Hey everyone,
I was working on a new blog post and I accidentally published it. I took it down, but I know it was sent out in an email to you guys already. It was just at the point of being interesting and then it is just cut short. Sorry for the tease. I’ll have it finished and republished soon. Sorry.
Take it easy,
Jack

Nottely Lake

Nottely Lake

The Plan

Nottely Lake is 20 miles long, 4,180 acres and has 106 miles of shoreline. There are a couple different ways we could have gone about camping at Nottely Lake. We could have camped at Poteete Creek Campground, (if you prefer having toilets, running water and electricity, this would be the obvious choice) however, we went the route of dispersed camping. Our goal for this trip was privacy and solitude.

While planning the trip with my map and satellite photos, I discovered Hyatt Bend island. I saw a cove that looked pretty nice and it appeared to have a beach, so we decided we were going check it out and see if we liked it when we got there. The island lies directly across from the beach at Poteete Creek Campground and just far enough away for privacy. We also wanted a spot where the dogs could roam free without having us having to worry about them

Neither, Marcie or I had ever been to Nottely Lake before, so we took a little extra time off of work to make it a three- day, two-night expedition. Our plan was to get an early start to get there early just in case the island wasn’t suitable. There are other islands to choose from, so we wanted time to explore those as well. Hyatt Bend Island is just offshore from Davenport Mountain, which has some ATV trails we wanted to check out and hike.

Nottely Lake Execution

We loaded our gear and put the kayaks on the roof of the car the night before. This way we could head out fairly early in the morning. The next morning we got on the road at about nine am. and we arrived at Nottely Lake at around eleven-thirty. We chose to launch the kayaks from the boat ramp at Poteete Creek Campground. I had spoken to them a few days prior to confirm if we would be able to park overnight. The lady I spoke to said it would be a nominal fee of two dollars per night. I figured that was a bargain and decided that was what we would do. We didn’t want to take a chance at being towed or someone vandalizing the car.

We found the office, paid our six dollars for parking and talked to a gentleman about camping on the lake and asked if it would better to launch from the ramp or the beach. He told us the ramp would probably be a wiser choice to avoid walking a mile. Then he asked us if we needed ice and it just so happened that we did. He told us it was two dollars a bag, explained that it was an honor system and directed us to the ice machine, which we had conveniently parked right next to. We put four dollars in the slot on a locked mailbox and took our two bags of ice.

We drove over to the boat ramp, took the kayaks off the car and loaded our gear onto boats. It was time to launch!

Poteete Creek Boat Ramp
Loaded up and ready to launch.

Hyatt Bend Island here we come

FS topo map

We launched the kayaks from the ramp and off we paddled. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water. We headed toward the dam and around a little peninsula. At the tip of the peninsula, we took a right and followed the shoreline around the campground. From there we paddled into open water for a little less than half a mile. Hyatt Bend Island was in sight and so was our cove. The excitement was definitely starting to build as we got closer. We didn’t know what to expect of Hyatt Bend except what had seen on the satellite imagery.

Nottely Lake
Fully loaded on Nottely Lake

We made it to our cove and landed on the beach and took the dogs out of the boats. They were just as excited as we were to be there. Unfortunately, this little beach was in plain view from the campground beach. It also wasn’t as nice as we had anticipated, so we decided to scout the island for another spot. We walked up the beach and into the woods to see what we could find. Hyatt Bend isn’t very big, maybe two thousand feet long by five hundred feet at its widest point.

We found an established campsite in the middle of the island and it looked pretty sweet but we decided to do a little more scouting. We found another spot on the west side of the island as well, but what we really wanted was a beach spot, so we pressed on. Once on the south side of the island, we found another cove with a perfect little beach. We assessed the area and found a spot for our shelter and our hammocks. This was it!

Our Beach Spot

Nottely Lake
Beach Landing

After paddling around the western tip of the island, we landed at our little beach spot. It was time to unload and set up camp for the weekend. The only place to put our hammocks and hang our tarp was covered by vines with hellaciously gnarly thorns. These suckers were bad! One actually went right through the tread of my Olu Kai flip flops and stabbed me in the foot. I used my tomahawk to cut the vines back, which took about half an hour and yes they fought back. These things scratched, stabbed, scraped and poked me several times during this process but I prevailed the victor of this battle.

I set up the ridgeline and began to hang our tarp, while Marcie gathered stones from the beach to build a fire ring. By this time the wind had picked up and started to blow from the south. Remember, we were on the south side of the island, so it was blowing right into our little beach spot. This definitely made securing the tarp a little challenging, but I got through it and we wound up with a nice little shelter.

The hammock, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

After we got the shelter built and Marcie built the fire ring, it was time to gather wood. There was definitely an abundance of the stuff on this island and we didn’t have to go far to get it either. All we really had to do was walk the up the beach where the sand met the tree line and gather as we went. The best part of it being so close and plentiful was that we didn’t have to dedicate much of our relaxation time to collect it. It was firewood city on Hyatt Bend Island!

Porter chilling in the shade in his shelter

Settling Into Relaxation Mode

We put on some afternoon coffee, started a fire and soaked in the fresh air of the outdoors. It was nice to just lounge and forget about the hectic pace of life we left behind in Metro Atlanta. Sitting staring out at the water and watching the dogs explore the beach gave me a great deal contentment.

Of course, hunger was starting to set in and we started thinking about the marinated chicken and all the fixings we brought to accompany it. I had spent the entire day before prepping food for the trip. I made pasta and potato salads then broke down an entire chicken and marinated it for twelve hours for our dinner for the first night on the island.

After dinner, we settled into our hammocks and let the sounds of the lake carry us off to sleep. I was raised from my slumber at one point by the sounds of a very large crash, and I can only assume that it was a blowdown. The wind had picked something fierce and was coming in from the north now, which made our decision to camp on the south side of the island seem more assuring.

Rude Awakening

We were awakened once again at about 2 am from the sound of a loud boat cruising very slowly across the lake shining a spot light into the woods around Davenport Mountain. This boat was loud and sounded like an old jalopy powered by a lawnmower engine that smoked too many cigarettes after a long night at the bar. What these guys were doing out there in the middle of the night is a mystery to me. I thought that maybe they were poaching. But who on God’s green earth would be stupid enough to commit such a serious felonious act driving what sounded like a piece of broken down lawn equipment on a quiet lake in the middle of the night? They soon moved on and we fell back to sleep.

Good morning Nottely Lake

I woke up before the sunrise and started a pot of coffee to get me moving and warm me up. The temperature dropped into the high forties and with the humidity from the lake, it felt pretty chilly early in April. Thankfully, the coals were still burning from the fire the night before and it didn’t take me long to have a nice fire burning again. I drank my coffee, read my book and watched the sun start to rise over the shoreline of Nottely Lake. It was already shaping up to be a great day on a beautiful lake setting in the north Georgia mountains.

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Sunrise on Nottely Lake
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What a beautiful morning on Nottely Lake
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Morning coffee on Nottely Lake
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Nice long fire heating up some coffee for Marcie

Once the sky was illuminated a little more by the morning sun, I decided to go for a paddle across the lake and check the shoreline across from Hyatt Bend Island. Reaching the bank of the island I landed my boat on the beach. I walked up the hill and found a campsite directly in the middle of the small island. I say the island, but it is actually attached to land by a small sliver of beach that extends about one hundred yards off the shore line. You can tell, though, that at some points during the year this sliver of beach submerged.

The campsite in the middle of this island is nice and there even a toilet constructed with 2x4s and an old toilet seat. Needless to say, I had to take that sucker for a whirl and give it my seal of approval (it passed the test). I thought about strapping to my kayak and hauling back over to our island, but after some calculated cyphering, I decided it would have been too much work. But what a sight that would have been to someone in the distance, me hauling a make shift toilet across a lake strapped to my kayak. It makes me chuckle just thinking about it. After my exploration was over, I paddled back to Hyatt Bend and started contemplating breakfast.

I can’t make this stuff up

Let’s get this day started

About this time, Marcie was stirring and rising from her slumber. As she slowly got up and got her coffee on, we talked about being woken up by the old jalopy and I asked her if she had heard the sound of the blowdown (she did not). She asked me what I had been doing all morning, so I told her of my boat ride and the tale of the make shift toilet. Immediately she was intrigued by my discovery, and we decided that after breakfast she would have to see it for herself.

Nottely Lake
Campsite on Toilet Island

The fire I had started earlier in the morning had burned down into perfect cooking coals and it took little to no effort for me to start the cooking process. I don’t know about you, but I love a good campfire breakfast. I started with potatoes cooked with garlic, onions and red bell peppers. Then, of course, some nice thick cut bacon and finally scrambled eggs cooked in the left over bacon grease. A meal fit for two lake explorers with left overs could have probably fed a small tribe in Africa.

Nottely Lake
Cooking breakfast at Nottely Lake
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Chow time!!

After digesting our small meal, we decided to load the dogs onto the kayaks and go check out Nottely Lake and recon campsites for future visits. Our first stop was Toilet Island, or as, Marcie calls it Island Number One. I personally think that Island Number Two would be more appropriate, given earlier events, but whatever. We stormed the beach of Toilet Island and released the hounds to roam the shoreline. I led, Marcie and the dogs to the center of the island and showed her the one fire ring/one bathroom campsite that could quite possibly be our next camping adventure on future visits to Nottely Lake. After viewing this potential future destination, we got in our kayaks and moved to another spot I had picked out on the map to explore.

Island Number Two

Nottely Lake
Island Number Two

We paddled about half a mile south on Nottely Lake and found Island Number Two, we beached our kayaks and started to survey the island. There are a couple of campsite on this island and they were pretty nice. As we walked the beach the dogs found some Canadian geese sitting on their eggs. This did not go well for the dogs. The geese chased them across the beach until I intervened and chased the geese into the lake. We walked around to the south side of the island and found another family of geese but this time we kept the dogs far away.

Island Number Two is awesome and has great potential for our next trip to Nottely Lake. There is a floating dock on the North side of the island and on the west side, there is a gigantic log that was carved out to make a bench. One of the campsites on the island has a small fish cleaning station as well made from plywood attached to one of the trees.

Nottely Lake
Going to check out the floating dock.

We said goodbye to Island Number Two and paddled back to Hyatt Bend to have some lunch and plan a hike on Davenport Mountain in the evening.

Exploring Hyatt Bend Island

We got back to Hyatt Bend about mid afternoon and it was definitely time for lunch. We got the fire going, grilled some hot dogs and made some baked beans to fuel us up to explore the island.

The trip took us to a jetty that connects the larger portion of Hyatt Bend with a smaller piece when the water is low. As we observed the landscape, it was easy to tell that Hyatt Bend was once the ridge of a knob in the years before the valley was flooded to make Nottely Lake.

While we were on the jetty our dog, Hagrid spotted some geese and chased them into the water. Hagrid decided he was going to wade into the lake and bark at the geese. He’s pretty tough when he gets some distance between himself and a threat.

We ended our exploration and headed back to camp to do some planning for the hike we wanted to do later on Davenport Mountain.

Hagrid chasing the geese

Davenport Mountain

The plan was to paddle past Toilet Island, land on the beach early in the evening, walk up an old jeep trail and hike a lollipop loop along with some ATV trails that I found on the map. This sounded like a great plan to end our day.

Nottely Lake
Mapping our hike

After lunch and a little mapping, we launched the boats and paddled over to the beach that we planned on landing. We made our way through some brush and lite forest until we found the jeep trail. When we found the jeep trail we headed west toward Davenport Mountain.

The trail was pretty grown over most of the way until we came to an intersection to the next jeep trail. At the intersection, we made a right and there was a sign on our left stating that the area off the trail was being revegetated and to stay off of it. We walked for a few minutes and the trail came to another intersection and we made a left.

The trail continued on for a bit and we came to the tail of the lollipop there, we made a right. We headed north and eventually we came to the loop and there was a choice to go left or right(we chose right).  We made our way about half around the loop and somehow we lost the trail. I went to the top of the ridge to see if I could spot and reclaim the trail. After stomping around for a bit on the ridge I decided to stop looking. Then we decided to turn around and start the way back to the boats.

Nottely Lake
Marcie not so happy about losing the trail.

Settling in for the night

By the time we made it back to Hyatt Bend it was getting late into the evening. We collected some firewood for the night and explored the beach a bit and it very peaceful on Nottely Lake. Aside from a few fishermen, there was no one else on the lake all day.

I got the fire going and put burgers on the grill for dinner. We ate our burgers along with the rest of the potato and pasta salads. After dinner, the wind was picking up again and the temperature was already starting to drop.

As the sun set, we relaxed and listened to the sounds of nature for a bit. It had been a full day, so we retired to our hammocks for the night and read for a bit before we fell asleep.

Saying goodbye to Nottely Lake

We woke up the next morning and had our coffee while we talked a bit around the fire. It was another cold April night on Nottely lake and we were warming up with the fire while we waited for the heat of the sun to take hold. After we warmed up a bit I decided to make our farewell breakfast.

After breakfast, we lounged around a bit and started to pack up most of our gear. I left the shelter for last, so we could hang out for an hour or so before we had to make our way back the campground and head back to the city.

Reluctantly we got into our boats and paddled back to the boat ramp at Poteete Creek Campground. It was a nice day for a paddle and we took our time heading in.

We got back to the boat ramp, unloaded the boats and packed up the car. Sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Nottely Lake.

Conclusion

Nottely Lake was a wonderful place to spend some solitary time. The lake was peaceful and serene and there are plenty of ways to enjoy Nottely Lake. If dispersed island camping isn’t an option for you. Poteete Creek Campground is always another way to enjoy this lake. The hosts there seemed very nice and accommodating. There is also a day use area and I believe they only charge a parking fee of two dollars to use the facilities.

With the small amount of exploring we did, we found four dispersed campsites and I’m sure there are plenty more out there. However, I’m not sure if I can recommend camping there in the summer. In the beginning of April, it was already quite buggy with biting flies out in full force during the heat of the day.

We definitely plan on going back to spend a couple of nights on Island Number Two this fall when it starts to cool down for the season. I also plan on going back to Davenport Mountain to explore the trails up there.

I highly recommend spending some time on Nottely Lake. I guarantee you won’t regret taking the time to acquaint yourself with this lake.

Stay tuned, I plan on making Nottely Lake posts a series as we explore the area more.

Click here for another lake camping story.

So get out there, have fun, be safe and ALWAYS, LEAVE NO TRACE!!