Sunday, July 5, 2015

New Eyes Scan Fairhaven Bay

My granddaughter joined me this morning for another early morning paddle.  I got to show her the Sudbury River's Fairhaven Bay where two white-tailed deer were seen on the eastern shore, and Martha's Point (opening photo) where the melodic song of several wood thrush was heard.

In addition to eastern kingbirds, red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, a lone duck, and possible baby beaver, was this great blue heron...

So little trash was encountered, it wasn't worth a snapshot.  Nice!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day Trash Patrol

This month's first Saturday falling on the fourth resulted in a festive Independence Day Trash Patrol with the New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club Paddlers (NHAMCP).  I counted 14 boats launching into the Merrimack River at Frost Road Park in Tyngsborough, MA this morning.

Club member Denise Hurt organized and led the event with help from Tyngsborough resident Paul Husted.

Soon we were all patrolling the river's shoreline and taking advantage of the high water levels to recover trash not normally accessible...

Mrs. Trashpaddler enjoyed her first-ever view...
...of the Tyngsborough Bridge from the river...


This musquash was seemingly unfazed by our activities...

It was only fitting that today's holiday edition trash patrol should get an assist from a Tyngsborough Patrolman who helped us with the post-patrol sorting and joined us for the group photo...
...before a much enjoyed post-patrol barbecue.

The day's trash haul before sorting...
The final count had 231 recyclables and around 130 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish which included a perforated plastic drum, an old car tire, and many chunks of flotation.

The first Saturday in August will find the NHAMCP group trash patrolling quite a ways further up the Mighty Merrimack in Concord, NH.

One result of our patrol is a little less trash to spoil Wannalancet's view of the river he cherished...


Monday, June 29, 2015

A Spiked Sudbury


Under today's mostly cloudy skies I ventured upriver on the Sudbury starting from River Road in Wayland.  Water levels are rising as a result of Sunday's rain storm.

Once past Route 20, the old Central Mass Railroad trestle looked like it had been converted to a rail trail when actually the rails are still spiked in place...





A belted kingfisher chattered nearby...


Aside from trash found near the boat launch the river was found mostly trash-free until past Heard Pond where snags such as this acted as flotsam collectors...
 
About a half mile beyond the Power Lines fallen trees effectively block further navigation...

...so I began my return trip seeing one other kayaker along the way.

Downriver, between Wayland High School and the Greenways, I encountered this spike deer swimming across the river...

...and watched him emerge on the other side...
Busy times for deer lately.


Heading back to River Road patches of blue sky were seen to the north...


Trash removed from the river...


 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Paddling with the Future

Lucky indeed was this paddler in being accompanied by his granddaughter early this morning on the Assabet River.  When mentioning possible start times for our river outing it was she who suggested leaving at 6 am and sure enough there she was, binoculars in hand, at the appointed time.

We launched from Lowell Road in Concord (opening photo) and checked the Egg Rock inscription...
...before beginning our ascent of the Assabet.  Water levels were good.

Near Willow Island I saw a doe with 2 fawns but they disappeared into the brush before my granddaughter could see them.  I was thinking that might have been our only deer encounter of the day. 

Then after finding these two poems floating face-down in the river...

 she espied another deer...
...and this deer allowed her slow approach...

A closer look at the accommodating doe...

I don't think words can adequately express just how privileged I felt at being able to share this moment with my granddaughter and I get the feeling she'll be having many more encounters with nature in the course of her lifetime.

Upon our return to Lowell Road we found a much busier boat launch than the one we'd left several hours earlier.  Mike with his electric motor-powered canoe was heading out for some fishing and photography while a group of paddlers from neighboring New Hampshire was preparing to get underway.


The items we removed from the river this morning...

The poems presented a dilemma of sorts in that while they compliment the river nicely we felt it would be better if they were posted at a river-side kiosk rather than floating face-down in the water. 
 
It was good to see a trash barrel had once again been placed at the boat launch.  Thanks to whomever was responsible.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rendezvous at Whitehall

The weather couldn't have been better yesterday on Whitehall Reservoir in Hopkinton.  The scenic 592 acre former reservoir made a great spot for an on-the-water rendezvous with friends visiting from the Adirondacks.

The regulations at Whitehall State Park require that boat speeds stay below 12 mph with no water skiing or jet skis allowed.  There's ample parking and a concrete ramp...a great boat launch with only one thing missing in, this paddler's opinion...a porta-potty.



Capt'n and Mrs. Dangerous, down from the Adirondacks, joined me in paddling the reservoir's perimeter in a counter-clockwise direction...
 

The upper reaches are where a swamp was flooded...


The outlet structure, where Whitehall Brook exits on its way to the upper Sudbury River...

This great blue heron hardly flinched during our passing by...



The area was found to be, for the most part, pristine with only these few pieces of litter...

 
 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Scouting a Someday Portage

Got out on the Assabet late this morning to enjoy the after-effects from Sunday morning's torrential rains.  After launching at Magazu's Landing I headed downriver towards Maynard where the river is backed up (opening photo) by the Ben Smith Dam.
Reaching the dam I decided to scout the portage even though I had no intention of proceeding further downriver.  There's a nice takeout spot on the river's right side above the orange floats and once ashore there I followed a short trail around the dam.  The view back upstream from below the dam...

The bedrock, covered with moss in places, was once the floor of the falls...
Just a short distance below the falls is a nice put-in spot that would send a boater quickly downriver and under the Route 117 bridge...
However, since I had no plans to take the bumpy ride through Maynard I returned to my waiting craft and began the trip back upriver. 

By the foot of Russell's Bridge at White Pond Road this water snake caught my eye...
 
I believe it to be a northern water snake.

The Gardner Hill Conservation Land in Stow provided this idyllic spot to enjoy some lunch...

Once back at Sudbury Road I continued upriver to see if access to Fort Meadow Brook was available.  It wasn't, and I was surprised to see that determined beavers had totally blocked the box culvert...
Judging from the sound of pressurized water squirting through the blockage, my guess is that the water level must be high behind the blockage and further up Fort Meadow Brook.

 There were newly blossomed flowers along the river...


Trash consisted of the usual gang along with a deflated football, and a Mylar smiley face...



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Noquochoke and Acoaxet Waters

Westport is a part of Massachusetts that I hadn't visited since my earliest days when, as an infant, I spent some time at Horseneck Beach. Now that I think about it, I realize that was probably the first time I ever saw the ocean.  As to why I never returned in the ensuing years it might be due to Westport's being tucked into an out of the way corner of the state and not anywhere I'd pass through on the way to someplace else.  In fact in order to reach the Acoaxet section of Westport by land you have to enter from Rhode Island.

Before Westport became part of Massachusetts it was within the Wampanoag territory and may have accommodated both the Pocasset and Sakonnet tribes. 

This past Saturday evening, Westport was my intended destination for a couple of nights camping under the stars at the Westport Camping Grounds.  Sandwiched between those 2 nights would be a Sunday devoted to exploring new (to me) tidal waters.

Following a good night's sleep I awoke early on Sunday morning for the short drive to Hix Bridge Landing (opening photo), my intended launch spot.

These signs greeted me...

...and had me considering the need to find an alternative launch site when a local fisherman, having just landed his skiff, shared some local knowledge as to where I could leave my vehicle (just a ways up the road).

Shortly, with still another half hour 'til high tide, I was on the East Branch of the Westport River and heading towards Westport Point and Westport Harbor.  Noquochoke is the surviving Wampanoag word for the region where I was launching, and the name is still seen on some buildings as well as a nearby lake. 

There was hardly a breath of wind and skies were blue...
I could tell it was going to be one of those "nowhere to go and all day to get there" kind of days.

On my way downriver I paddled through a cluster of six islands: Upper and Lower Spectacles, Little and Big Pines, Great Island, and Gunning Island.  Osprey nests were seemingly everywhere.  While most were on man-made platforms, this one on Upper Spectacle Island utilized a good ole tree...

...and a set of eyes studied my approach...
Almost every nest was busy with parents flying in with food for the nest-bound chicks.  At one point I counted 7 osprey nests within sight.

Below the islands this stately rock stood firmly in the middle of things...

Once around it, the Route 88 bridge came into view spanning the river between Westport Point and Horseneck Beach...
Beyond the bridge I entered Westport Harbor and followed the marked channel as it swung around Horseneck Point and past The Knubble on the Acoaxet side...
This is the part of Westport that's only accessible by land from Rhode Island.   Acoaxet is another surviving Wampanoag place name referring to this spot and possibly the West Branch of the Westport River.

With the ebb tide now underway it was a quick ride to open ocean, and soon I was looking across at what might be the Elizabeth Islands in the distance...

Returning back through the same passage, I hugged the tip of Horseneck Point and found myself paddling against the outgoing tide at the same rate of speed as folks walking the beach only 15 feet to my right.  A strange sensation.

Once around the tip my boat was beached...
...while I enjoyed my first salt water swim of the season.

Once back on the water I entered the Acoaxet or West Branch of the Westport River seeing more wildlife along the way.  An eider duck?...
 A pair of common terns (both banded)...
A busy osprey nest...

And some interesting shellfish (oysters?)...

At low tide boaters have to be vigilant in not running aground.  Those that aren't may require the services of this craft...

I managed to stay afloat and began the journey back to a now busy Hix Bridge Landing where kids were seen taking a pre-summertime plunge from the bridge...

The small amount of trash encountered included yet another of those Narragansett/Del's Lemonade Shandy cans...
Succumbing to the power of suggestion, a can of this beverage was purchased and greatly enjoyed with my supper back at the campsite.  Seems an ideal summertime beverage.

On Monday morning I broke camp and prepared to head to work as a rainy day dawned.  Before leaving Westport I drove down to Horseneck Beach and briefly visited little Gooseberry Island which juts out into the sea from Horseneck Beach...
Is there anything better than the smell of wild roses mingling with the salty air of the sea?