Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Ice Retreats

This afternoon the Assabet River was wide open from Magazu's Landing up to Gleasondale in Stow.  What ice there is has retreated to the sloughs. 

After another very cold morning (14 F.), afternoon temperatures climbed to near 40 degrees F. 

In addition to wood ducks, hooded mergansers, red-winged blackbirds, musquash, mute swans, and Canada geese were recently arrived tree swallows, an osprey, and a great blue heron.

Fort Meadow Brook was ascended up to the old railroad trestle for the first time this season...
...as the water level was ideal for passing through the box culvert...



The melting ice is creating some nice designs along the brook's bank...

Other formations were noted along the river...


Thankfully the ice is doing its "swan song"...



This blue heron seemed to be enjoying the afternoon sunshine...

The trash theme of the day was Scope and Listerine...
...along with a plastic duck found "dead in the water" with hole in top of his head.  The usual plastic bottles, plastic bags, and Styrofoam were also present.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Paddlin' Like a Minuteman

Driving snow-covered roads to a job this morning, the last thing I envisioned was getting in an afternoon paddle on the Concord River.  But then around noontime the sun began to emerge and I heard the alarm that an early spring afternoon might be in the making.  I raced home, grabbed my musket...I mean kayak, and headed out the door.
Made it to the Old North Bridge (at left) in a jiffy and found sections of blue sky overhead.

The first redcoat was encountered about a half mile below the bridge...
Actually I heard his distinctive call before laying eyes upon him.  I can't tell you how good it feels to hear that sound for the first time each spring.

He and his kind were keeping good company with hooded mergansers...
...Canada geese and wood ducks...

The paddling portion of my march had begun near Egg Rock and its icy inscription...
...and brought me about 3 miles down river to the end of open water near Davis Hill...
The view is looking to the north where Old Man Winter disappeared last night after flipping us all the bird so to speak.  Hopefully he'll get some therapy during the off-season.

On my way back upriver the sun gained even more sky, and temperatures may have touched a balmy 40 degrees F.  The first full day of spring, after getting off to a rough start, had battled back to seize the afternoon.

Before passing under Flint's Bridge (Monument Street), I paused and marveled at my good fortune...

Along the way a better home was found for these castaways...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Felt Like Opening Day

Finally, conditions close to normal allowed me to be out on the river rather than worrying about ice dams, snow, cold, and wind...and it felt great! Awesome!  Fantastic!  The way life should be!
Instead of the smell of hot dogs and peanuts and the sound of bat hitting ball, I had my paddle sweeping through the water and a hot cocoa seventh-inning break near the "Grey Monster" (photo left) in Saxonville.  No home runs were launched over the wall. 


Of course many boat launches were checked before one was found that had both open water and reasonable access to it.  Surmounting this snow bank...
 ...gave me entry to a wide-open Sudbury River in Framingham...

Surprisingly there were no ice shelves and the river was open to both banks.

Water level was ideal and my boat and I passed through the Stone Bridge's left portal for the first time (if memory serves correctly)...


...usually it's blocked by debris and I paddle around the end.

I wondered if there'd be any trash and found some that had wintered over...
The usual culprits (plastic bottles, plastic bags, and Styrofoam) were joined by a fire extinguisher and snowboogie board by WHAM-O.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Streak Saver

It wasn't the most pleasant paddling experience, but yesterday's brief exploration of Narragansett Bay's West Passage did keep my streak alive.  The last time a month elapsed without my having paddled New England waters was back in February of 2007.

So with only 3 hours of daylight left in February I launched from the beach (photo at left) at the end of South Ferry Road by the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus in Narragansett, RI.  Of the 5 boat launches scouted in Rhode Island's South County it was by far the most hospitable.

Air temps were in the mid to upper 20's and the expected northwest breeze was now coming from the south.  Good-sized floating chunks of ice were encountered... 

 
 
Taking refuge behind a jetty I could see the Newport Bridge to the east behind Conanicut Island...
 
 
A distant Beavertail Point Lighthouse could be seen at Conanicut's southernmost tip...
 
Other than wretched ice, no trash was encountered.
 
With the streak preserved, Mrs. Trashpaddler and I watched the last sunset of February 2015 from the warm environs of George's of Galilee seafood restaurant in Point Judith.  The toughest February I've ever experienced and glad to have survived it!  


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Plotting My Escape

As I sit here writing this post the temperature outside is 16 degrees Farenheit, it's snowing again, and my lower back is killin' me.  Old Man Winter has me pinned to the mat and, though I've already tapped-out several times, I'm about to lose consciousness.  With my few remaining seconds I plot my escape.

At the right moment I see myself breaking out, dragging the boat from hibernation, using its painter to pull it over the snow, and struggling to get it atop my car's roof.  Then I'm driving due south in search of open water and temperatures above 32 degrees.  I'll be saying "so long" to Massachusetts and entering the neighboring Ocean State where snow banks will hopefully shrink by the mile.  When I get to where driving south is no longer possible, there'll be refuge in the form of open water.  I'll rejoice!  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Long Ways from the Water


Surely these are the times that try this paddler's soul.

On this morning four days from the halfway point in my 100-day countdown to the vernal equinox, my outside thermometer shows 13 degrees and the barrel, containing paddling gear, is adorned by an absurd white top-hat this morning.  Navigating anything other than oceans of fluffy white snow seems a long way off.

Fortunately I have plenty of heat emanating from my pellet stove, good music on the radio, some old maps to peruse, and an appropriate movie to later screen: Atanarjuat:The Fast Runner (if I can find it).

For some comic relief I enjoyed reading Kevin Cullen's take on all this in today's Boston Globe: "Blizzards can seem like the end of the world".

Some waterways I'm planning to experience once Old Man Winter takes his leave are:

Part of the Wampanoag Canoe Passage specifically near Massasoit's Monponsett hunting lodge where his eldest son Wamsutta (aka Alexander) was taken into custody by the dastardly (in my opinion) Josiah Winslow.

Where Metacomet (aka King Philip) and his Pokanoket followers escaped Pocasset by crossing the Taunton River.

Where Weetamoo lost her life trying to cross the same waterway.

These two ducks were also a long way from the water this afternoon...
Not sure how or why they ended up in my neighborhood.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Starting Anew on the Assabet

It was a very promising weather forecast that sent me to the Assabet River in Stow late this morning.  I launched at Magazu's Landing (at left) on Sudbury Road in anticipation of temperatures in the 50's.  Rather than wait for the warmth to actually develop, I decided to get there early to beat the crowds.

The rain had let up and it was 34 degrees F. according to my car's thermometer.

After launching I headed up river towards Gleasondale anxious to  soon shed my pogies.

The river looked quite peaceful...

Wildlife was plentiful and consisted of mute swans, Canada geese, loads of ducks, and these red-tailed hawks...

They were frequently moving from one perch to another...

The first piece of aquatic trash for this new year...
...a Remington shotgun shell.

Arrived at Gleasondale and found my boat's thermometer only nudging 36 degrees F....
Paddling beyond the Route 62 bridge brought me to within sight of the dam upstream of the footbridge...

On my return trip downriver I stopped at a wintry-looking portal to Fort Meadow Brook...

A fog developed without any noticeable rise in temperature...
...allowing me to get closer than usual to these mergansers...


Back at the landing the day's trash haul jumped ashore...
Somewhere upriver there's a litterer with very fresh breath!

The 50's were never reached.  In fact the 40's were never reached.  Upon driving home my car's thermometer showed only 36 degrees F.  Yet, I'm not that disappointed...for it was still nice out on the river and my 2015 paddling season is now officially underway without my having to leave Massachusetts.

By the way, my New Year's resolution is that no Styrofoam will touch my lips in 2015.  I'll be bringing along a stainless steel travel mug ready to press into service for any store-bought coffee.