Some days are good and then some not so good- and then there are the days in-between that you might just have to call ‘a-wash.’

I was making the most of a necessary trip to Blowing Rock, NC – my ‘a’ plan was to get it done early and then follow up on a lake that I found intriguing but off the beaten path, Lake Tahoma.  So I was on the road early approaching ‘the ride’ in the same manner that I ‘boat’ (heading to the farthest end of a lake before working back).  Using only the bac-roads I made fairly good time to Blowing Rock, even with an added a surprise visit along the way to a seldom seen acquaintance.

With business complete I was happy to find an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway so close to Blowing Rock, – and headed back.

Blowing Rock was windy and the air was ‘thin’ true to it’s name while making the clarity of the mountain day pretty remarkable.  From the Blue-Ridge Parkway the view was relaxing, I soon came across Price Campgrounds and Lake which was not a large body of water – but they had boat rentals and allowed folks with their own boats to paddle the lake for free.  Standing in my shorts and chaco’s and feeling the thin breeze blow across the lake I decided to stick with my plans and head on to Lake Tahoma.


Lake Tahoma

Down Hwy 221 and off the beaten path to the lake I went, soon finding the little lake that I had remembered.  While searching an access point – there were signs everywhere.  It was posted property! unwelcoming with no central point of contact – zipped up tight, again signs everywhere….

Having a home on a private lake myself I figured that I would make contact with a local to ask permission (paddlers are generally harmless) – I drove the circumference of lake to no avail; couldn’t find a soul (Monday).  I suppose in being as close to the Town of Marion, NC they were prepared for locals and minimized those cut-offs and dated bathing suits from using ‘their’ water.  You can make the land and docks private, but I believe that water is a natural right-of-way and should be available to all.

This is when my day became ‘a-wash.’  I had tried to put myself in position for a paddle but things just weren’t looking good.  Oh well, and while kicking myself in the butt for not paddling the lake on the parkway, I moved on.


Lake James, NC

Water Clarity – 8 (Linville side)

Natural Quality – 7+

Difficulty – easy

Lake James is part of the Catawba River Basin and not too many miles from where my day had taken a turn – but James is a large lake and having less than the best of experiences there while boating years before (car broke into), it was nearing lunch and I didn’t care to paddle something I couldn’t complete in a day – plus I really didn’t care to leave my car unattended at the public landing there –

calibrated I figured I’d just amble on around James and check out the Linville side – where a number of the older buildings are made of rock from the old river bed.

On the Linville side the water is the best, where a few years ago they filmed the movie  ‘Last of The Mohicans‘ – even constructing a full-size wooden fort with lines of cannons and a burned out ship on the waters-edge.  It is now a paved and very nice boat landing with condo’s where the movie-set fort once stood – wouldn’t work for a movie set now.

As I rode and reminisced of many early boat adventures on these waters I came across Lake James State Park, and even though my day was ‘a-wash’ I figured – Why not go ahead and check it out?

(GPS – @2785 NC-126 Nebo, NC)

Pulling in I noticed other kayakers getting out of the water, that was a good sign and even though it was late for putting in (middle of the day) the put-in was close, free, and my vehicle secure.

– so the logic was to do-it.


Yeah, there were people, but there were also miles of shoreline with a thousand coves to explore – many of which seem to be losing their ‘natural qualities.’

The water clarity was much better than I remembered and even with this lake used heavily by the surrounding communities for recreational purposes, the clarity is right up there – it felt great! and once again made me appreciate how spoiled we are in WNC with our water sources.

With so many miles of shoreline the older areas (where ‘weekenders’ previously camped) are now posted – signs of changing times and private property.  I can’t say that I blame all the landowners because my memories were with the disappointment of campers leaving so much litter.  Since, it appears that conscientious citizens and landowners have tired of cleaning up.  The shores of Lake James did seem a little less encumbered with trash this visit, this was a positive….


I did see signs of fresh water mussels which reminded me of the zebra mussel invasion once feared from the many recreational vessels from ‘outside’ waters, the ones I saw were in dead groups or had been scraped off of boats as they rubbed downed trees along the shoreline.

Overall the greater percentage of property is still natural and uninhabited, it is consistently lined with fallen trees (great for the fish population), along with those living trees destined to the same fate….



It was good paddling the quiet coves, and with a little pondering I settled on just paddling toward the little bridge and marina while exploring, even the cove in which I once sent the ecological balance into a spin – but then that was a story never meant to have been retold (oh crap!).


Thank goodness for such a large ecosystem…………….


There was no way I was going to come anywhere close to completing the best parts of Lake James, being halfway to the Linville side (the most natural part) and on the water for @ 4 hours – it all had passed so quickly – a couple hour drive home remained.

So I took a good swim and returned to the ramp.  While driving the 70 miles home I thought about this day and the moment I had brushed my hands together considering it all ‘a-wash’ – turns out the day wasn’t so bad after all.


Other places to paddle;