Saturday, September 20, 2014

OARS Annual River Cleanup

Today the organization OARS held their 28th Annual River Cleanup.  Folks (and herons) all over the Assabet, Concord, and Sudbury Rivers helped to clean the waterways in their respective communities. 

I trash paddled the impounded portion of the Assabet River (above the Powdermill Dam) in the town of Acton...
The town line with Maynard can be seen in the distance.

While paddling along the shoreline collecting trash from the rocks and bushes, I came across this H.P. Hood milk bottle dated 1931...

Once my boat was fully loaded I returned to shore and began unloading and sorting the trash...
There were 97 recyclable containers (13 redeemable) and 46 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, nip bottles, basketball, soccer ball, and a plastic tricycle.  YTD = 4561

The 24 containers that would be covered by our Bottle Bill if Question 2 passes are shown here...

While emptying my boat's rear hold, a stowaway was noted...
I've always heard that crayfish in a river or pond are an indicator of good water quality.  Hopefully his presence bodes well for the once degraded impoundment.

Other members of the Acton contingent worked the river downstream of the dam and they removed a good amount of heavy objects from the river...

The old milk bottle cleaned up nicely and awaits the milkman on my stoop...

 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Nashua River Above Squannacook

Paddled a new bit of the Nashua River today launching at Rt. 2A in Shirley.  Launching here is a bit challenging requiring one's boat to be lowered down a steep bank.  The use of a rope makes this task much easier and safer, especially if alone.  I'd used the launch site once before for gaining access to the lower Squannacook River which is only a short distance downstream.

After launching I headed upriver towards Ayer...
 It is a scenic stretch with relatively few signs of civilization.

One of those few signs...
Fortunately, there weren't too many of the above.

I've long been intrigued by the Native American named brook "Nonacoicus" when seen on maps. Today I finally got to paddle past its confluence with the Nashua...
It didn't look too inviting from a navigability perspective.  Nonacoicus is said to have meant "earthen pot" or "earthen kettle".

Another tributary seen today was Mulpus Brook...
What little flow it was contributing to the Nashua was crystal clear.

After paddling about 2 miles I reached the MBTA Fitchburg Commuter Rail bridge (near Macpherson Rd. in Ayer) just in time to see Train 418 heading inbound towards Boston...

At this location my vessel was run aground...
...until after lunch anyways.

The trip back down was pleasant with the afternoon warming nicely.

My trash haul for the day...
There were 34 recyclable containers (10) redeemable and 36 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as nip bottles, Styrofoam, and a Mylar balloon.   YTD = 4418

One interesting find was a 1938 D-Patent hobble-skirt coke bottle (New York) which looked surprisingly new after cleaning...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Low Tide on the Sudbury?

Launching into the Sudbury River from under Sherman's Bridge in Wayland yesterday afternoon, one couldn't mistake the feel of fall in the air.  In fact, a paddling jacket was worn for the first time in months.

Heading upriver I was struck by how low the water level has become and how the river could easily be mistaken for a tidal river at low tide.  At many bends the receding water left old cans and bottles exposed in the mud and muck.  The first bottle found was this old bottle of Scotch whisky...
According to the embossing on the bottom it had journeyed a long way from the Glenfyne Distillery in Scotland.  The distillery was located in the village of Ardrishaig which is west of Glasgow near the Kyles of Bute and the Firth of Clyde.  Whisky was made there between 1831 and 1937.  In the center of the bottle's bottom is embossed "Made in Great Britain" which reminded me of the upcoming vote when Scots will decide whether to stay part of Great Britain or go it alone.

An old beer can which, though brewed on this side of the "pond", conjured up images of olde England and Sir John Falstaff...
...haven't seen one of these cans in quite awhile.

Next was a bottle more typical for this side of the Atlantic...

I believe it dates to 1958 and, like a bottle found in the Nemasket River, the applied color label began fading as soon as it left the mud.  Almost all of the color was gone by the time I got home.

There were others probing the Sudbury's muck yesterday such as killdeer...

...and an egret...

There was also a marsh hawk and this smaller hawk, perhaps an immature Coopers hawk...

The afternoon steadily improved to where the paddling jacket was no longer necessary and the feel of summer returned...

Back at the boat launch my trash haul hit the beach...
There were 14 recyclable containers (10 redeemable) and 14 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, 2 Styrofoam bait tubs, and what looked to be a long abandoned musquash trap.
YTD = 4348

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Paddling Menameset Waters

Yesterday's paddle had to fit the bill.  To do so it needed to be a 3 mile stretch of flat water with as few signs of civilization as possible, and ideally have some historical significance.
 
After moving my cursor around the Google map screen, more than a little like using a ouija board, the cursor ended up on the location of Menameset in the towns of Barre and Hardwick, MA.

Menameset is a Native American (Nipmuc) word and refers to an area where 3 Nipmuc (Quabaug) villages were located alongside what is presently called the Ware River.  At one point during King Philip's War (1676), these 3 villages housed an estimated 2,000 Native Americans (Nipmucs, Wampanoags, and Narragansetts)

I'd paddled the same stretch once before, back on 3/28/2012, and hoped to take another, hopefully closer, look at some possible village locations.  Clues to these locations were taken from Josiah Howard Temple's History of North Brookfield, MA: Preceded by an Account of Old Quabaug.

Starting at Wheelwright Road (Rt. 32) in Barre Plains, I paddled down to the Wheelwright Dam and back.  This map shows the area (click to enlarge). 

This tree near the put-in was a favorite for mushrooms...


The first, or most upriver village is believed to be about half a mile below the present MassCentral Railroad bridge(formerly Boston & Albany branch) and on the river's east side...

There is a slough there between areas of high ground...

At the upstream end of the slough, where there's a steep slope, is this stone structure...

...probably just the remains of an old stonewall, but to me it looked like a stone path and I used it as such to get up and down the slope.  The stone structure actually started under the riverbank...

Heading further downriver I encountered several turkey vultures wiling away the day in the same tree.  They seemed to take turns drying their wings...

Better seen from afar...

...and hopefully never circling above me.
Additionally a hawk, osprey, blue heron, belted kingfisher, and numerous wood ducks were seen.

A meadow between the villages filled with goldenrod...
...and these strange blue flowers which I'd never seen before...
...I've since learned they're "Blind Gentian" also called "Bitter Root" for the medicinal values of the root.

What looks to be an old abandoned railroad (perhaps the Central Mass) grade runs parallel to the river's east side...
Part of this grade passes through a small airport and perhaps was incorporated into its runway.  The middle Manemeset village is believed to have been located between the river and said runway.

The lower Manemeset village is believed to have been just a little ways downstream of the dam at Wheelwright...

The mill, formerly the Ware River Paper Co., was built in 1866 and operated until 1973.  What's left of it is in a sad state.  This small shack is typical...


This turtle probably had some stories, but he wasn't talking...

 Today's trash haul...
There were 43 recyclable containers (16 redeemable) and 14 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as an old white-wall tire and the plastic tub.
But wait, there's more...
The 3 jugs were attached to fishing line and a hook.
YTD total = 4320

Other than a small plane towing an even smaller plane into the skies above the airport, I saw not another soul.  The only dwellings seen were right at the launch site and some at the small village in Wheelwright.  It was an ideal spot for my down and back paddle.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Fair Day for Fairhaven Bay


T'was a beautiful morning for a paddle down to Fairhaven Bay.  I started from Sherman's Bridge in Wayland and the view down the Sudbury River just after launching was splendid (at left).

Earlier plans for launching at Little Farms Road in Framingham were scratched upon finding way too little water.
  
At Pantry Brook the low levels revealed multiple beaver dams between the sheet piling and the river...
At today's levels it's hard to imagine having paddled over the sheet piling this past spring.

The only bridge passed under today...

Shortly after the bridge, Fairhaven Bay was reached...
...and its small island...
...where lunch was enjoyed while trying to decipher these patterns in twig and stone ...

Two fairly old bottles were liberated from the muck today...

The one on the left is a 1-pint Bostonia Beverages registered soda bottle.  It was pretty rugged and had probably been filled and refilled many times at their plant in Natick...possibly dates from the 1930s.
The bottle on the right is a whiskey bottle embossed on the bottom with Warren F. Witherell Co. Boston and may date from around 1917.

The rest of today's small haul...

There were 18 recyclable containers (6 redeemable) and 12 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish. 
YTD = 4263

Oldest piece found today may have been the wrought iron oar lock.  Perhaps it came off of Henry David's boat???