June 25, 2018, day 3/7
The three of us rose early in the morning to finish paddling the 4 miles of Bear Lake. Jimbo helped shuttle us around the dam to begin Cedar Cliff Lake under cloudy skies. These man made lakes are beautiful and serene but there is something about the artificiality that always irritates me. I frequently look for signs of the old river buried in the deep waters and wonder if this section was once as magnificent as Bonas Defeat and the native river upstream.
Cedar Cliff Lake is 1.5 miles long, a smaller and narrower version of Bear Lake. There were no recreational boaters or fisherman. Approaching the broad C-shaped expanse of the dam a severe thunderstorm broke out; cracking thunder and lightning overhead. Quickly paddling to the shore we hiked down the mossy spillway to the riverbed. It was far too steep and slippery to carry equipment. Going to the far side of the dam John took cover under a metal utility shack to wait out the storm while I paddled across. When I joined him the lightning struck so close that the two of us hightailed it down the service road carrying all our gear in the pouring rain.
Camp was set up just downstream from the powerhouse. We fished in the turbid waters coming out of the floom pulling out several nice rainbow trout on rooster tail spinners. Exhausted and wet we managed to start a fire, cook our fish and try to sleep.
Part 2: The Tailwaters
A Cherokee Legend:
Uktena was a serpent as large around as a tree trunk, with antlers on its head, a blazing crest on its forehead and scales glowing like fire living in the river. Whoever is seen by Uktena is so dazed by the bright light he runs toward the snake instead of trying to escape. There is a location 2 miles above Deep Creek near Bryson City where Uktena struggled and left deep scratches while trying to move upriver.