Thursday, August 21, 2014

Paddlin' Some Chazy Waters

This past Saturday I met up with Capt'n and Mrs. Dangerous for some paddling and camping in Chazy and Champlain, NY, the last two townships before the Canadian border.  Champlain, like the lake, is named for Samuel de Champlain who paddled up the Richelieu River from the Saint Lawrence in 1609.  Chazy is said to be named for Captain de Chazy of the French regiment Carignan-Salieres who was killed in a skirmish with the Mohawks near the mouth of the Little Chazy River in 1666.  He'd been stationed at the French fort Sainte Anne on nearby Isle La Motte which is named for, yet another, French Captain Pierre la Motte.

The area is at Lake Champlain's northwestern end and near to where it transitions into the Richelieu River before flowing north into Canada. 

We launched at the mouth of the Great Chazy River where several marinas are located nearby.  With the cloud-laden sky and occasional showers most of the boats in the marinas remained tied-up for the day.  No complaints from us...

Heading up the Great Chazy we saw the tree-lined banks give way to rolling fields of corn.  Along the way we encountered blue herons, belted kingfishers, a green heron, an osprey, tree swallows, and a few cedar waxwings.  After traveling a little over 5 miles we reached the hamlet of Champlain and this distinctive building hard by its side...

It was once the First National Bank built in 1880 and today serves as...

Beyond the building there's an island where the river becomes too shallow for paddling.

Once back at the river's mouth we loaded up our boats and assembled the trash we'd recovered from the Great Chazy...

Then with the rain getting steadier we headed off for some local vittles before camping on the shore
of Lake Champlain's Monty Bay...
 
The family of Mrs. Capt'n Dangerous has maintained a camp here for several generations.

On Sunday morning, with peeks of blue sky finally appearing, the Capt'n and I paddled out on the lake from Monty Bay south to Treadwell Bay, rounding Point Au Roche State Park in the process...

 Once around North Point we enjoyed the view to the south...

The Point Au Roche Lighthouse is obviously no longer on the job...

A peaceful cove provided this mysterious structure which the Capt'n investigates...


Some rugged Point Au Roche shoreline...

At the conclusion of the paddle the sun had almost restored the feel of summer and a post-paddle swim in Monty Bay was enjoyed by all.

After a little hemming and hawing I elected to take the long way home via Champlain and Rouses Point, the latter being a railroad hot spot I'd long hoped to visit.

Driving through Champlain I stopped at the Elm Street Bridge and drank in a last view of the Great Chazy River under sunny conditions...
At Rouses Point the Delaware and Hudson RR station has been restored to reflect its 1889 design...
These days it contains a museum and serves as an Amtrak stop for the Adirondack which runs between New York City and Montreal.
Another adjacent station may possibly have once served the Rutland Railroad (long abandoned)...
 I noticed red signals to the south and a Canadian Pacific powered freight waiting 'in the hole'...
Within another 20 minutes I heard the approach of the northbound Adirondack and watched as it made its last stop in the USA before heading into Canada...
Once the Adirondack had cleared the station, the Canadian Pacific locomotive began moving in a southward direction...
...and I watched as the longest single commodity freight train I've ever seen slowly stretched out from behind the station...
Tank car after tank car of Bakken crude oil possibly bound for the Port of Albany.  There were so many cars that I began to doubt how one locomotive could possibly pull so many.  That's when I saw there was a second locomotive bringing up the rear...

Once calm had been restored I drove across the top of Lake Champlain into Vermont where Route 89 brought me back home.

Exploring Green River Reservoir

Last Friday I drove north and west en route to the northeast corner of New York state and Lake Champlain.  Having an extra day off from work and it being a weekday, it occurred to me that a paddle in Vermont's Green River Reservoir might be in the cards.  After all, it's pretty much on the way.

Over the years I've heard many good things about this body of water located in Hyde Park, Vermont about 27 miles to the north of Montpelier.  Green River Reservoir State Park is comprised of 5,503 acres which includes the undeveloped 653 acre reservoir where motorized watercraft are prohibited.  The reservoir has 19 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 28 primitive campsites accessible only by water.
 
The only fly in the ointment was the stipulation that when the relatively small parking area is full, the park is then closed until sufficient spaces open up.  That fact inspired me to hit the road at 4 am and I ultimately arrived there at 8:30 am to find several parking spots still available.  The road into the park from Route 15 is Garfield Rd.  If there was a street sign, I never saw it. 

Once at the park a friendly staff member handed me a map and pointed out some of the more interesting nooks and crannies.  There is a $3 Day Use Fee.

While the skies looked ominous, and there was a feel of fall in the air, it rained not a drop.

Early on I encountered loons...
It had been too long since I'd last heard their call.

Some of the nooks and crannies...

In one such nook I came across a rock doing yoga...

A closer inspection failed to provide an explanation for the rock's perfect state of balance...

Paddling to the NW the reservoir narrowed for a long stretch leading to Beaver Meadow...


At the reservoir's northern tip, just downstream from a beaver dam, this osprey kept watch...
 
 
 
In addition to loons and osprey, other birds seen were belted kingfishers, cedar waxwings, swallows, and blue herons.
 
Heron Cove is closed to paddlers between ice-out and August 1st (for bird nesting)...
 
 
Little Picnic Island is a designated Day-Use Area...
 
...where lunch was enjoyed before heading to the coves at the reservoir's southern end.
 
Until entering the very last cove, not a single bit of trash had been encountered.  In fact, I was beginning to forget what litter looks like.  But then, in the Day-Use area closest to a roadway, the distinctive glint of a beer can was detected and upon closer inspection, this gang of refuse was found clustered in their hideout...
 
Leaving the cove with my newfound friends I watched a young loon receiving diving instructions from a parent...
 
Back at the boat takeout area, park staff helped to ensure the cans and bottles found their way to a proper disposal.  In this case they made an exception to the park's policy of "Carry in, carry out."  It's a policy that has resulted in this place being quite special...
 ...and a place I hope to return to someday with my tent and sleeping bag.
 
Leaving the park, and resuming my drive west, I did the same as the Green River and followed the route of the Lamoille River to Lake Champlain.  From South Hero Island I caught a late afternoon ferry to Plattsburgh, NY.







Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Thirsty Concord River

It was a little past sunrise this morning when I approached Concord's Old North Bridge.  A lone fisherman was casting from the abutment at the Patriot's side (at left)

I'd launched at Lowell Road and was working my way downriver towards an eventual turnaround point at Route 225 in Bedford.

Water levels have dropped quite a bit and left a deceased deer's carcass exposed upon the rocks...

The sun wasn't seen until downstream of Flint's Bridge or Monument Street...

 
 
 
The canal leading to the ponds within Great Meadows was nearly dry...
 
 
A green heron watched from a tree...
 
 
This purple loosestrife plant found a toehold away from the usual crowd...
 
 
Morning glory blossoms...
 
 
Today's trash...
There were 29 recyclable containers (15 redeemable) and 29 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish.
YTD = 3712
 
Added these 2 glass bottles to my 'river bottle' collection...
 
The clear Simpson Spring Co. bottle circa 1949 combines with a similar one from the Assabet to give me a pair of these rugged bottles.  The amber bottle dates from 1954.
 
Speaking of rugged bottles, I caught the last bit of a tv program showing how beer (Carlsberg) bottles in Denmark are returned by consumers to stores, cleaned, sanitized, and refilled with beer as many as 50 times before being removed from circulation and recycled into new glass.  Sounds like the Danes understand sustainability much better than most folks, and pay an 18 cent deposit per bottle to get the job done. 
 








Monday, August 4, 2014

White-Headed Birds on the Sudbury

White seemed to be the theme today out on the Sudbury River in Wayland.   There were the puffy white clouds, the white flowers of the buttonbush plant, and several white-headed birds (including myself).

Following a high noon launch at Route 20 I headed upstream, enjoying the recently rain-raised water level.

When I stopped for lunch past the old railroad trestle, I saw an osprey enjoying his dinner...

Once past Pelham Island Road, another white-headed bird caught my eye...

The bald eagle soon took flight...

There were many buttonbush flowers...
 
A cobalt blue Milk of Magnesia bottle was lifted from the depths...

Some Cardinal flowers to add a little red...

Another osprey encounter on the way back downriver...


The day's trash haul...
...consisted of 37 recyclable containers (6 redeemable) and 23 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as a Mylar balloon, and some Styrofoam.  YTD = 3654