Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Real Fall Feel

Though the calendar told me fall arrived more than three weeks ago, it wasn't until yesterday that I really felt its presence.   No sooner had I launched into the Nashua River at the Oxbow in Still River than a cool breeze out of the north had me reaching for a warmer jacket and hat.

This now abandoned osprey nest will hopefully endure the coming winter and be ready to provide a safe haven for next spring's hatchlings...


One thing about paddling this stretch of the Nashua I particularly enjoy is how you can stop on the way home and look out upon Wachusett Mountain and the valley you just paddled through...



Trash encountered was the typical mix with 4 of the Nashua's signature quart-sized glass beer bottles..

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Bottom Scrapin' Sudbury

Launched into the Sudbury River from River Road in Wayland yesterday afternoon and headed upriver.  The weather looked like it was either about to clear or about to rain and shortly a brief shower ensued.

Some new signs...
...serve to remind that the 2017-2018 duck-hunting season is underway.  However, the river on this day was busy with folks fishing from the shore, atop the old RR trestle, and from several boats.  Most reported having success. 

Once past the Greenways shallow conditions were encountered with the river bottom exposed in many places.  In one such spot it took a second glance to realize I wasn't seeing the profile of a dugout canoe...
...just an old tree trunk.

Nearby these sandpipers were making the most of the shallows...


Eventually and only by using the two halves of my paddle-like ski poles to slide my boat over the muck, I reached the "Great Wall"...
...near Heard Pond which was withholding a fair amount of the river.  The beaver-built barrier made a good spot to turnaround and begin the trip back.

Along the way I'd picked up 2 floating poster boards each with a single letter.  One had an "R" and the other a "W".  On my return trip I may have solved the puzzle...
...when the missing letter was seen still attached to the Route 20 bridge.  Was someone being inspired to row?

Further downriver at my takeout a rower was encountered...
It was Tom who, like me, uses wheels to help transport his boat.  His boat dates from the 1970s and Tom shared photos of the many times his boat's been loaded to the gills with water chestnuts he and others pulled from the river.  He also had a photo of the 38" long northern pike he once caught on the Sudbury.

By the time my little journey came to an end the day was ending with blue skies to the north...


A small haul of trash was gathered up along the way...






Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Weather Suits the Day

Monday was a working holiday for many, including myself.  The holiday traditionally named for Christopher Columbus has long celebrated the explorer's 1492 landing in the New World. However, as the historical picture of Columbus becomes clearer many folks have come to the conclusion that Columbus was not an admirable character, even considering the time period in which he lived.  Thus the holiday is now being referred to by many as "Indigenous Peoples Day".  I agree with this being a better choice.

At any rate, when my abbreviated workday concluded, I found myself near the Assabet River and the Chapin Road boat launch in Hudson, MA.  The small slough that I've launched into on previous visits was lacking the key ingredient...
...water.  After dragging my boat a bit (glad I had my mud boots), I was soon paddling upriver.

The weather was showery and tropical for these parts in October.  Heavier rain was predicted for later in the afternoon.

As I approached where the Assabet passes under Route 495 I noticed a virtual parade of vehicles towing campers in a southbound direction.  This served as a reminder that most of the campgrounds up north have now closed for the season.

After passing under the highway I came upon this musk or stinkpot turtle...
...he was in about 6 inches of water and steadfastly facing into the current almost as if waiting for something.  His carapace was covered with algae.  I learned online that these turtles can live as long as 50 years so I suspect this guy could probably tell me a thing or two about his days in the Assabet.

A little less than 2 miles upriver from Chapin Street beavers had modified the river to their liking...
...and the dam became my turnaround point.

The return trip provided a few glimpses of fall foliage...


Once back at Chapin Street I couldn't resist paddling a little further to the foot bridge...

The mood of the day was mellow...
...and the rain was "soft"...

Some trash gathered up along the way...





   

Sunday, October 8, 2017

NH AMC's Wrap-up Patrol


The New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club Paddlers wrapped up their fifth season of monthly trash patrols yesterday in Nashua, NH.

Beginning in May the NH AMC Paddlers conducted trash patrols on the Shawsheen River in Burlington, MA, Nashua River in Nashua, NH (from the Millyard), Merrimack River in Tyngsboro, MA, and the Merrimack River in Nashua, NH (from Greeley Park).

Yesterday's group consisting of 6 kayaks and 1 canoe headed out from the Mine Falls Park boat launch and patrolled the Nashua River's shoreline approximately 2 miles upriver from the dam.

The day was summer-like and there were only a few splashes of fall foliage to remind us it was actually October...

For the most part, trash was noted to be lighter than past years and the capacity of our trash crates wasn't put to the test.

Sue's boat cutting through the duckweed...

Paul and Lynda heading in...

Ron and Maureen...

The sorted haul looked about evenly split between recyclables (clear bag) and plain old rubbish...

The trash haul (pictured above) may have increased in size as one participant, Gary, planned to further patrol the Mill Pond and Power Canal below the dam. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Assabet's Cozy Confines



After having spent several days last week paddling and admiring the majestic scale of the Hudson River in the Catskills Region of New York it nonetheless felt good returning to the friendly confines of my local waters.  This past Monday afternoon I got out on one of my favorite stretches of the Assabet River in Stow and Hudson (MA) and found first-rate conditions for early October...


Nursing a troublesome hamstring I was taking things very slowly and didn't mind at all when I found the portal to Fort Meadow Brook blocked by debris. 

I just continued further upriver and, closer to Gleasondale, stopped my ascent at this fallen tree spanning the river bank to bank...

On the return trip downriver I came upon this blue heron seemingly floating through the weeds...

Very little in the way of trash...

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Meaningful Boulders

Earlier this month I was able to visit a recently placed boulder commemorating the nearby burial location of the Wampanoag Massasoit, 8sameeqan (Yellow Feather), at Burr's Hill Park in Warren, Rhode Island.
A closer look at the inscription...
 
It seems the question of where Massasoit's remains were buried has finally been resolved as well as where Massasoit's village, Sowams, was actually located. 

Apparently, the original burial site was ripped asunder when a railroad connecting Providence and Bristol was built in the mid 1800s.  According to an article found on RhodyBeat more than 600 funerary objects were removed from the burial ground over many years.  It took 20 years of tedious work by the Wampanoag Tribe to track the objects to the many different museums where they had ended up. Many of those objects have now been returned to the tribe, and this past May were reinterred.


Previously I'd visited other boulders commemorating the final resting place of two other Native American leaders who lived during the contact period and were contemporaries of Massasoit.  One in Tyngsborough, MA marks the grave of Wannalancet, the last Pennacook sachem...


The other is in Hamilton, MA and marks the grave of Masconomet, Sagamore of the Agawam...
 
 
This boulder and an adjacent (even older) stone appear to have been in place for many years with numerous offerings placed about them...

 
 
All of these markers are tastefully done and show great reverence. 


Friday, September 29, 2017

In the Half Moon's Wake

Last Thursday (September 21) after launching into the Hudson River from the Glasco (NY) Mini Park, I looked southward to where the bridge in the distance spans the river between Kingston and Rhinecliff.  Much further to the south the Hudson Highlands can be seen.  If I were sitting at this spot on September 15, 1609 I would have seen what might look like a floating castle attached to small clouds approaching in a northward direction.  It would have been Henry Hudson's ship, the Half Moon, and more than likely, the first European vessel to ever traverse these waters.  I'm left to wonder how the Native Americans living in this area reacted to the unfamiliar vessel conveying strange beings into their homeland.  Perhaps their reaction was similar to how we'd react if an alien spacecraft landed in our midst.

While I've long known the Hudson River was named for Henry Hudson who "discovered" it while trying to find a shortcut across North America, I really didn't appreciate just how much interaction there was with the many different groups of native peoples.

This past April while staying at a hotel in Peekskill, NY, I saw a model of the Half Moon on display in the lobby and was struck by how much it indeed looked like a floating castle.  It got me thinking and soon I was searching for a first-hand account of the Half Moon's journey.  Fortunately one exists in the form of Juet's Journal of Hudson's 1609 Voyage from the 1625 Edition of Purchas His Pilgrimes.  It was written by Robert Juet, one of the Half Moon's crew, and later transcribed by Brea Barthel.  Juet's account is sparse on details and not overly descriptive.  For example he doesn't mention tributaries and at several points, where landings are made, fails to mention on which side of the river the landing occurred.

The Half Moon set sail from Amsterdam on March 20, 1609 and after covering some considerable distances the ship eventually found and sailed up the river known today as the Hudson.  Just exactly how far up the river the Half Moon sailed is a matter still debated to this day.  Some say the Half Moon reached Albany and others say the Half Moon lay anchored to the south while its ship's boat made it as far as Albany. 

In looking for a point corresponding with Juet's account I selected his entry for September 15, 1609 and found this: "At night we came to other Mountaines, which lie from the Riuers side.  There we found very loving people, and very old men: where we were well vsed."
So when I turned to the westward from near Cruger Island I found this view of the Catskills mountain range roughly corresponding to Juet's description...

This became my starting point in attempting to paddle in the Half Moon's wake over four days.  My tent was pitched at the Saugerties/Woodstock KOA and from it each morning I'd head out to one of three different boat launches on the Hudson River: Glasco Mini Park, Kiwanis Park/Catskill Creek, and Coxsackie Boat Launch/Riverside Park.

In addition to Juet's first hand account I'd brought along a copy of Douglas Hunter's 2009 Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World which provided a wealth of information regarding Henry Hudson, the Half Moon's voyage, and the tidal aspects of the Hudson River.

Areas of the Hudson I especially enjoyed experiencing were Tivoli Bay on the river's east shore where this immature eagle was seen high above Magdalen Island...

Upriver from there is the Saugerties Light House...
...which serves as the gateway to Esopa Creek where a short up-creek paddle brought me past the Coast Guard Station...
...and Lynch's Marina...
...to the falls in Saugerties...

As I paddled out of the Esopa the Riverkeeper was motoring in...

I'm inclined to believe that the "very louing people" Juet described may have resided in this general vicinity.  These people paddled their canoes out to the Half Moon bringing with them "ears of Indian corn, Pompions (pumpkins), and Tabacco..": which were bought for trifles.  The crew of the Half Moon also caught fish and replenished their fresh-water supplies before moving further upriver.

On Friday morning I launched further north at Catskill Creek and paddled out and into the Hudson...

When I turned to the north I was greeted by a gusty north wind associated with the remnants of Tropical Storm Jose.  I found refuge from the breeze to the east of Rogers Island after passing under the Rip Van Winkle Bridge (photo taken looking to the southeast from the west side)...

I hugged the east shore and had just enough water to pass by the east side of Roger's Island.  Eagles were encountered there, and at a rest stop upriver a bit I watched as one osprey tried to make another drop the fish held in its talons...
While resting under the shade of a sycamore on the river's west bank I was tempted to take a nap.  However, the nearby Rip Van Winkle Bridge brought to mind Rip's extended 20-year snooze and at my age I don't think I'd have enough time for a nap that long.

After passing under some impressive power lines, the area I believe Juet referred to as the "shoalds in the middle of the channell" were reached.  At this spot a long, narrow island lies in the middle of the river with navigable channels on either side.  The Hudson/Athens Light House stands watch at the south end...

The city of Hudson sits on the river's east side while the smaller town of Athens with this majestic willow occupies the west shore...

    Looking upriver from the Athens side is this view...

A few miles to the north Stockport Creek enters from the river's east side...
...and may have been where, according to Juet, on September 18, 1609 Hudson left the Half Moon and accompanied an old sachem "who carried him to his house, and made him good cheere."  Another account attributed to Hudson, himself, mentions that upon Hudson's preparing to head back to the Half Moon, the Native Americans thought he was fearful of their weapons, and subsequently broke their arrows and threw them in them into the fire.  Hudson returned to the Half Moon nonetheless.

The next day, September 19,1609 the Half Moon went 2 leagues further upriver and anchored.  Here Juet writes the "people of the Countrie came flocking aboord, and brought vs Grapes, and Pompions, which wee bought for trifles.  And many brought vs Beuers (beavers) skinnes, and Otters skinnes, which wee bought for Beades, Kniues, and Hatchets.  So we rode there all night."


On Saturday I was joined by my friend Paul from the neighboring Adirondacks.  We launched from the Coxsackie Boat Launch and paddled the Hudson between Stockport Creek and Rattlesnake Island...

...which may have been in the general area where on September 21, 1609 Hudson and his Mate decided to "trie some of the chiefe men of the Countrey, whether they had any treacherie in them.  So they took them downe into the Cabbin, and gave them so much Wine and Aquavita, that they were all merrie: and one of them had his wife with him, which sate so modestly, as any of our Countrey women would doe in a strange place.  In the end one of them was drunke, which had been aboord of our ship all the time that we had been there; and that was strange to them; for they could not tell how to take it.  The Canoes and folke went all on shoare:but some of them came againe, and brought stropes of Beades: some had sixe, seuen, eight, nine, ten, and gaue him.  So he slept all night quietly."  I'm thinking the Native Americans after seeing the man (possibly a sachem) drunk, went home to consult their shaman, and perhaps the Beades were brought to help break a spell that they may have believed was placed upon him.

The following day, September 22, the Half Moon remained anchored at this location.  In the morning Hudson sent five crew members out in the ship's boat to, again, scout the river further upstream.  At noon the Native Americans returned to the ship and upon seeing that their chief men were OK were "glad".   They then returned again at 3pm and "brought Tabacco, and more Beades, and gave them to our Master, and made an Oration, and shewed him all the Countrey round about.  Then they sent one of their companie on land, who presently returned, and brought a great Platter full of Venison, dressed by themselues; and they caused him to eate with them: then they made him reuerence, and departed all saue the old man that layd aboord." (this "old man" is the same fellow that had been on the ship since possibly Sept. 15)  Later that night the ship's boat returned and reported having gone upriver 8 or 9 leagues to the end of navigable waters.

On September 23, 1609 the Half Moon weighed anchor and began its return trip downriver.  With little wind they only made it 2 leagues down before running aground.  The next day, Sept. 24 with help from a northwest wind they made it 7 or 8 leagues further down and again ran aground.  On Sept. 25 they rode out a gale while at anchor and then on the morning of the 26th, while still at anchor, "two Canoes came vp the Riuer from the place where we first found louing people, and in one of them was the old man that had lyen aboord of vs at the other place.  He brought another old man with him, which brought more stropes of Beades, and gaue them to our Master, and shewed him all the Countrey there about, as though it were at his command.  So he made the two old men dine with him, and the old mans wife: for they brought two old women, and two young maidens of the age of sixteene or seventeene yeeres with them, who behaued themselues very modestly.  Our Master gaue one of the old men a Knife, and they gave him and vs Tabacco.  And at one of the clocke they departed down the Riuer, making signes that wee should come down to them; for wee were within two leagues of the place where they dwelt."

The next morning, September 27, after overcoming some difficulties in getting the half Moon afloat the ship went downriver another 6 leaagues.  When they stopped "the old man came aboord, and would haue vs anchor, and goe on Land to eate with him: but the wind beinmg faire, we would not yield to his request; so he left vs, being very sorrowfull for our departure."

That evening or perhaps the next morning the Half Moon slowly disappeared in a southerly direction towards the Hudson Highlands from whence it came 11 days earlier...
...and must have left the Native Americans wondering what the hell had just happened.  For them the Half Moon's visit marked the beginning of the end.  Their days of happily living along the river were now numbered.

 During the 12 days the Half Moon was upriver of the Highlands the region was experiencing summer-like weather, similar to the conditions I experienced during my 4 day stay.  Aside from the incident where Hudson and his mate deliberately tried to intoxicate the native leaders, the interactions between the Half Moon's crew and the Native Americans weren't all that bad.  However, it should be noted that interactions that occurred below the Highlands both on their earlier ascent and later descent didn't go so well. As they prepared to enter the river on September 6th there'd been a skirmish in New York's Upper Bay where one of the Half Moon's crew, John Colman, was killed.  Perhaps in retaliation 2 Native Americans were kidnapped and held below deck for several days until they ultimately escaped.
On Hudson's return trip down the Hudson there were more skirmishes which according to Douglas Hunter in his book Half Moon "More than 10 natives had been killed in the exchange."  Hunter goes on to say "Hudson may have come to the river that bears his name as something of a god, if the first-contact oral histories can be believed.  But he must have been leaving as a monster to many of its people."  The "first-contact oral histories" Hunter references are "based on an account compiled by the Reverend John Heckewelder, a Moravian missionary who ministered in Pennsylvania among native peoples displaced by European colonization of the greater New York area."  According to that oral tradition the Native Americans upriver of the Highlands believed that Henry Hudson was Mannito a supreme being who'd come to pay them a visit.  The incident involving intoxication was seen by them as Mannito providing them an elixir.

While visiting the Hudson River I'd paddled under the Rip Van Winkle Bridge twice and driven over it once.  Naturally, as soon as I got home Washington Irving's  Rip Van Winkle  was read and who should appear in the story but the crew of Half Moon who are said to revisit the Catskills area every 20 years to keep an eye on things, do some nine-pin bowling, drink from their flagons, and create a little mischief.


Hardly any trash was encountered in my travels on the Hudson...


Though there may have been some lead under this sign...