Saturday, June 24, 2017

Connecticut River by Ottauquechee

 
Early this past Sunday morning I ventured to White River Junction, Vermont for a couple of days paddling on the Connecticut River.  Just above the Wilder Dam I joined my friend Paul (aka Captain Dangerous) in paddling upriver...

to Wilson's Landing and back thus completing the section of the Connecticut River between Woodsville, NH and Wilder Dam.  The return trip down to Wilder proved tough against the afternoon's southerly breeze.  Post-paddle Paul returned to New York while I found the nearby Quechee KOA and pitched my tent for the first time this season.

The weather forecast for Monday included flash flood advisories, and potentially strong thunderstorms were predicted for mid-day.  This prompted me to launch at 6 am from Blood's Brook in Lebanon, New Hampshire where the water level was found to be on the low side.  Other than a lone shore fisherman I had the river to myself.  Shortly after launching I reached the confluence of the Ottauquechee River where a short ascent of it brought me to two waterfalls beneath two covered bridges...
Some five miles or so up the Ottauquechee from this spot these waters squeezed their way through Vermont's Quechee Gorge.

Once back on the Connecticut I approached the Hen and Chicks...
The Hen close-up...
 
 
Another mile or so downstream I reached Sumner Falls...
...where I landed upstream and walked the portage trail. 
 
Along the trail are picnic tables and a portable toilet...
 
 
Downstream of the falls the river looked tranquil...
 
...and an eagle soared overhead...
 
 
Walking the trail back to my boat I thought of Major Robert Rogers' 1759 account of portaging these falls before having one of his men release his crude raft for the tumble through.  He then swam out to retrieve the raft and they continued their journey down to Fort # 4.  Rogers referred to the falls by their Native American name "Wattockquitchey".
 
I began my return trip back to Blood's Brook encountering an eight boat flotilla of canoes and kayaks on their way to the falls.  Also encountered was this kayak sporting a Bimini Top of sorts...
 
 
Back at Blood's Brook...
 ...I exited the river as clouds began to take on an ominous appearance.
 
On my drive back to the campground I stopped at Quechee Gorge for the obligatory photo...
 
The afternoon's thunderstorms found me in the Montshire Museum where numerous exhibits were enjoyed.  One video exhibit Adrift by Simon Christen gave me a whole new appreciation for fog.
  
Before leaving the area on Tuesday morning I visited the White River Junction railroad station...
 
 
 ...and watched as Vermont Railways engine 303 received some TLC in preparation for the upcoming day's work...
 
My two paddles on the Connecticut River produced very little trash...
 
Yesterday, closer to home, I got chased off of the Sudbury River's Fairhaven Bay by clouds that suddenly became ominous and from which emanated a few claps of thunder...
I guess that makes it official...summer has begun!








Friday, June 16, 2017

More Nashaway Neck

Yesterday I picked up where I'd left off last Saturday in paddling a bit more of Nashaway's "Neck".  Finding a Canoe Launch sign on Main Street (Rt. 70) in Lancaster I pulled in and soon realized the dirt road from the parking area led to a reasonable (though muddy) launch under the railroad bridge.  Before launching, though, a historical marker directly across Main St. from the canoe launch caught my eye...

To the marker's right is this vista...

The story of Mary Rowlandson's captivity is one I continually run across in my travels.  I've crossed her path on the Ware, Millers, and Connecticut Rivers. Now here I was launching into the Nashua's North Branch very close to the spot where her ordeal began.  Once launched I headed upriver and paddled past the meadow where the Rowlandson Garrison once stood.

The day was a beauty and the river provided me with occasional challenges in finding a course around shallow bends, sandbars and blowdowns.  It also offered a few stretches of deeper water where the current slowed. 

After traveling about 2 miles I reached the Route 117 bridge and turned about for the much faster return trip with the flow.

Trash of a mostly plastic nature was plentiful and had probably drifted down from the upstream communities of Leominster and Fitchburg...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

An Assabet Siesta

I wasn't the only one looking for a little relief from the heat along the Assabet River yesterday.  The above two deer were wiling away the afternoon by a slough upriver from Pine Street in Concord.

At another slough just upriver from Route 2 this deer was spotted through the grass...

Its curiosity brought it closer...

Thanks to the day's light breeze the shady spots provided an oasis.

Route 62 in West Concord...



Trash was on the light side...


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Nashaway's Neck Along the Nashua

The sign looked ancient, and I saw it following this morning's paddle on the Nashua River in Lancaster (aka Nashaway).  Never would've seen it if not for having taken a wrong turn before starting my drive home.  The "Neck" is formed by the Nashua River's North Branch detouring due south to where it combines with the Nashua's South Branch at the "Meeting of the Waters" before heading north once again.  This 1943 topo map shows the area known as "The Neck"...


I launched at the Route 117 (Seven Bridge Rd.) canoe launch and first headed downriver 50 yards or so to see if the river was still blocked by a large blowdown.
The good news was the river was no longer completely blocked.  The bad news was that what remained of the blowdown had acted as a trash trap...
    After working the trap for half an hour it looked better...
...and resulted in this haul...
...from that one blowdown.  Like shootin' fish in a barrel!

But wait, there's more...
...from my subsequent trip 'round "The Neck". 

More than 50 "Nip" bottles were recovered today.  According to the Container Recycling Institute the State of Maine is hoping to place a nickel deposit on these pesky little plastic containers.  Unfortunately,  Maine's governor is trying to prevent such a deposit.

Speaking of environmental issues, this was a bad week for the Housatonic River.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to hold up the agency's previously approved plan for removing PCBs from the Housatonic River.  The plan had taken many years to develop.  


Once finished with the trash trap I began heading upriver and found blowdowns to be numerous.   Reaching the "Meeting of the Waters" any thoughts of ascending the Nashua's South Branch were dismissed...

Upriver from that confluence is this bridge carrying what remains of the Boston and Maine Railroad's Worcester, Nashua, and Portland division...

At the bridge's south end is the location of a historic Native American cemetery to the east, and this "Hobo Jungle" to the west...
The daily freights moving past this spot are designated as POSE and SEPO as they connect Portland, ME with Selkirk, NY.  When moving through this area the sometimes very long trains move at a snail-like 10 mph.



This past Wednesday I paddled a short stretch of the Ipswich River in Danvers launching from Mortalo Landing on Rt. 62.  Both the day and the river were beautiful...

Found this stretch of the Ipswich to be very clean yielding only this small amount of trash...


Monday, June 5, 2017

Getting the Jump on June

As is their custom the New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club paddlers conducted a "Trash Patrol" on the first Saturday of the new month.
Around a dozen boats (canoes and kayaks) launched from the Nashua River's Millyard Office Park Boat Ramp.

The launch is now operated by the City of Nashua and sports a kiosk and new signage...

Under Denise Hurt's direction paddlers worked a 2 mile stretch of the river upstream from the boat launch. 

Paddlers recovered trash from behind fallen branches...
..and fallen trees...


 Once sorted and bagged the trash looked almost presentable...
Along with bags of recyclable containers and non-recyclable rubbish were a wheelbarrow, traffic cone, bicycle, and truck tailgate.   All of it "better out than in".



The following day, back in the Bay State, I enjoyed a serene Sunday morning paddle on the Concord River from Egg Rock down to Davis Hill and back.

The Old North Birdge...

A stand up paddleboarder...

Trash was on the light side until the contents of a single floating plastic "Party Bag" filled my crate...

Because the bag had been securely tied before being released into the river its contents: 20 Solo cups, 12-pack of Bud cans, and 7 empty Gatorade bottles were prevented from going their separate ways...

This musquash with a voracious appetite was oblivious to all except the green shoots of grass it was eating...

The river looking north had the look of June...