Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hot Water

Holy cow, the water in Belews Lake, in Forsyth County, NC, is hot. Hot, I tell you. For years, I've heard about the hot water in Belews Lake, but I experienced it myself for the first time today, and it was uncanny. It's because of the coal-fired Duke Power plant on the lake, which uses the lake water for cooling, and then discharges the super-heated excess back into the lake.

Ms. B. and I received a very kind invitation from geocaching friends Tom (Skyhawk63) and Linda (Punkins19) to join them for a day of geocaching, wining, and dining on the lake in their motorboat, and we were not all that put out to oblige. We had each scheduled days off from work, so we headed out fairly early to meet them at the Piney Bluff access area near Stokesdale. Soon enough we were rip-roaring out on the water, bound for the first of a baker's dozen caches hidden along the roughly 88 miles of lake shore. Some we were able to snag without getting out of the boat, but the first time I dropped into the water, I just about let out a holler.

The air temperature was around 90 degrees today, and the water temperature was well in excess of that — even a few miles out from the power plant. No exaggeration, it was like stepping into a hot tub. The lake never freezes even in the bleak midwinter, when the water temperature averages about 60 degrees. These days, the water is relatively clean, with a healthy supply of fish, though it took roughly 25 years to recover from a massive fish kill around 1978 when selenium — a deadly poison — was found to be leaking into the lake from the plant. Still, when the water temperature is so abnormally high, it tends to make one wonder just a bit. Common wisdom is to keep Belews Lake water from getting on your car because it will permanently mar the finish. Needless to say, we didn't guzzle any of the stuff during our excursions off the boat.

But quite a nice day it was. We claimed a fair number of caches, which put my current total number of finds at 8,962. We enjoyed a bottle of decent wine, a picnic lunch on the boat, and some extra-fine company. There are still a few hides out there left to find, so it would be delightful to make another lake outing in the not-too-distant future.

Maybe in January, when a dip in the water is anything but a brisk polar plunge.
Big-ass water heater
Good refreshment to go with a picnic lunch
Skyhawk63 sometimes drives with his eyes open, facing the front of the boat. But not always.
All that remains of an old bridge from days of yore

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