Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rude Bridge Arching the Flood

Though I've paddled under Concord's Old North Bridge many times, it always feels a little special when doing so a few days either side of April 19th.  It was at this very spot that "the shot heard round the world" rang out and the American Revolution began 239 years ago.
Over the next few days this replica of that "rude bridge" will host several commemorative events attended by visitors from near and far.  With this afternoon's cool temperatures the bridge was fairly quiet.

Water levels have dropped a little to where the first line of Egg Rock's inscription "On the Hill Nashawtuck" can be read...
 
Below the North Bridge, Flint's Bridge at Monument Street divided the river's flow between its four portals...

This beaver was swimming to this evening's worksite...

The high water levels of late produced a plethora of refuse between Egg Rock and Balls Hill...
There were 47 recyclable containers (14 redeemable) and 64 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, nip bottles, and a Mylar balloon.  YTD = 1367

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Everybody's Back on the Assabet

This splendid spring morning found the Assabet River coming back to life, so to speak.  Shortly after launching at Magazu's Landing in Stow, MA, I encountered Patrick who was fishing from a nice open boat he built himself over the winter.  Even with a camera in my pocket, I forgot to get a photo of him and his boat.  In talking about the absence of spring peepers, Patrick mentioned having heard them a little further upriver, and I did hear a few soloists when I reached the spot he mentioned.  The whole chorus has yet to chime in.

On my paddle upriver I encountered many recent returnees such as this heron...
...and this octopus...

Leaving the river for a short trip up Fort Meadow Brook provided this, always welcome, view...

Last season's duck hunt left this interesting presentation in the brook...

Once back on the river, I continued up to the ford-way where an upriver assault did not look promising...

Instead, I turned around and began my trip back downriver.  En route I saw ospreys, turkey vultures, and this pair of killdeer...

The strangest encounter I had today was with this turtle...
 
 
He was fearless and never plopped from his log despite the proximity of my boat.  I'm wondering if he might be a juvenile Blandings turtle?  If so, it would be my first ever encounter with that species.
 
Today's lunch spot had this grand view...
 
Today's trash haul, not so much...
 
There were 92 recyclable containers (14 redeemable) and 84 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, nip bottles, light bulbs, and a tube of toothpaste.  YTD = 1256



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ascending Bogastow Brook

A morning job in Sherborn finished up early thus allowing me to explore Bogastow Brook from its junction with the Charles River near the Sherborn/Millis town line.  I launched into the Charles River from Route 27 in Medfield and headed upriver to the point where Bogastow veers off to the right (opening photo).  Water levels were nice and high and that kept many obstacles well below my boat's hull.

Having brought along McAdow's guidebook The Charles River exploring nature and history on foot and by canoe helped to answer the question as to the meaning of Bogastow.  On page 187: "A second contingent of pioneers came in 1658 and settled in the southern end of town at Bogastow (Boggestow, Bogistow), which is what the Indians called the Charles Valley from Sherborn south to Medway."

Paddling a quarter mile up the brook brought me into South End Pond...
The pond is natural and there are few signs of civilization.  Once the inlet was located at the pond's south end I continued my ascent.  Because the brook was over its banks finding the actual channel proved difficult in places. 

I saw my first osprey of the spring about a half mile above the pond...
A marsh hawk and a red-tailed hawk were also seen in addition to numerous ducks.  Turtles were also catching some rays.  Oddly though not a peep from the spring peepers.
 
A "Witness Post" staff gauge maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers was witnessed...

This footbridge was not going to allow my passage and almost ended my ascent until I noticed water flowing over the path to the bridge's right...
 
It was a short portage, requiring only a few strides while out of the boat, and gave me another half mile of brook up to Orchard Street in Millis...
    
The bridge portal pictured is one of several, each feeding a different channel of the brook.
To proceed beyond this point would require a longer and more difficult postage, so this made an ideal spot for me to turnaround.  I'd traveled about 3.6 miles from the Route 27 Charles River launch site.

My trip downstream was with the wind at my back and a strong current to boot. 
Upon rejoining the Charles, I could see Medfield State Hospital in the distance...

Today's trash haul...

There were 18 recyclable containers (6 redeemable) and 30 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as bait tubs, Styrofoam, and plastic bags.  YTD = 1080

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Low Clearances on the Sudbury

The Nashawtuc and Elm Street bridges weren't offering much in the way of headroom to Sudbury River travelers this morning.  Fortunately, there was just enough room to squeeze under and  allow my passage upriver to Fairhaven Bay.
 
Trash was plentiful on my upriver run, and was especially bad alongside Route 2.  This area was only accessible due to flood conditions.  The underpass intended for wildlife use was flooded as well...

Returning to the main channel under Route 2 revealed some deteriorating masonry work...
...more testament to a rough winter.

Fairhaven Bay was completely ice free...

After taking a lunch break on Brooke Island, I took advantage of the rare opportunity to circumnavigate it before beginning my return trip downriver.

A disconnected containment boom was writhing in the river's current beneath the commuter rail bridge...

Someone's escaped kayak was pinned against trees just upstream of the Nashawtuc Road bridge...

While I picked up a plastic bag, this beaver nonchalantly swam across my bow...

At my takeout location a bluebird was enjoying today's sunshine...

My trash haul today consisted of 46 recyclable containers (17 redeemable) and 56 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, and 2 balloons.  YTD = 1032

Friday, April 4, 2014

More River, Less Land


There wasn't much grazing to be had at the Calf Pasture today in Concord by Lowell Road.  The area of the boat launch was submerged as a result of last weekend's big rain event.
As I launched my boat there this afternoon I saw several other boats either at the launch, or out on the river (1 canoe and 3 kayaks).

At Egg Rock the top line of text on the inscription was about 6 inches below the surface...
Compare with a photo of the same spot taken just 6 days ago...


Both the Assabet and Sudbury rivers were swollen beyond their banks, and dry spots for Muscovy ducks were at a premium...

The lower mile and a half of the Assabet River yielded considerable trash which may have been recently lifted by the rising waters...
There were 60 recyclable containers (22 redeemable) and 42 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, and nip bottles.  YTD = 930

As the afternoon progressed, a raw wind from the east grew stronger.  Nonetheless, this tree's buds look ready to pop...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wachusett's Westward Waters



This afternoon I paddled the crystal clear waters of the Ware River's East Branch which originates on the west slope of Wachusett Mountain.  I had scouted this area last December on foot and noted several river otters being present.  Might they still be there? 


On the way upstream I passed this Hi-Rise beaver lodge...


Today's high water levels allowed easy passage over half a dozen beaver dams en-route to the section of river I desired. 
 
When this dead catfish floated by...
 ...I wondered if perhaps otters were about.

Just a little further upstream I encountered a couple of them...

 
 
They both periscoped up at one point, but I wasn't fast enough with the camera. 
 
Later I encountered a pair (perhaps the same seen earlier) that were busy with something on the bottom.  At first I thought they were ducks partially submerged...
Not sure what he's got in his mouth.  Perhaps it's a tuber?
 
These river otters were in the same area where I saw them last time, and it seems to me they've found a bit of "Otter Heaven" for themselves. 
 
Other wildlife enjoying this area were wood ducks, mergansers, Canada geese, blue herons, belted kingfishers, and turkey vultures.
 
At a point the stream got too narrow for my liking so I turned about and headed downriver to where this covered bridge straddled a rocky drop...
 
Back at the takeout my trash haul posed 'a la mode' (hopefully for the last time)...
 
There were 23 recyclable containers (7 redeemable) and 11 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as Styrofoam, balloons, a golf ball, and fishing bobbers.  YTD = 828
 
On my drive home, I passed to the south of Wachusett Mountain...
 
...and it had become a beautiful April afternoon.
 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

An Energized Assabet

The combination of recent snowmelt and this past weekend's nearly 4 inches of rainfall had the Assabet River spilling over the Powder Mill Dam in Acton at a good clip this afternoon.

Downstream of the dam the river raced through the bends near Forest Ridge...
 
 
 
Would have been tough trying to paddle against that current, so I didn't.