Monday, August 3, 2009

Assabet River - Ice House Landing to Gleasondale


Today's trash patrol of the Assabet River between Ice House Landing in Maynard and Gleasondale in Stow, provided ample trash and numerous wildlife encounters such as this mute swan family. After launching and heading upriver, I paused near the mouth of Elizabeth Brook when I heard the almost constant crying of a juvenile hawk. He was on the river's opposite side but not yet visible to me. I mimicked, as best I could, his shrill whistle and he lept from a high perch and flew right at me, swooping up and into a dead tree near the brook. I paddled a short way up the brook to the area where he was perched and took his photo...

Once again I mimicked his call and, sure enough, he flew right at me again. I think he is still trying to have someone bring him voles for lunch. Before leaving the brook, I admired these pickerelweed flowers which are now in bloom...

Further upriver a solitary green-backed heron was a bit unnerved by my presence. He flew awkwardly from tree to tree several times before finally disappearing.
Near the small airfield, it was my turn to be unnerved as a small unmanned red plane was doing stunt acrobatics. Knowing there wasn't a pilot onboard (unless he was very tiny) concerned me as the plane flew straight up, stalled, then dived down to fairly close to waterlevel before the engine kicked in and the plane soared once again. The person controlling the plane could not be seen. The plane looked to be about one third the size of my boat and I was amazed at how long it was able to remain airborne.
About a half mile above the outlet for Lake Boon the river opens into a large expanse with several channels and backwaters. Deciding to get out of the current during my lunch break, I headed down this secluded backwater...

As I neared the backwater's end I detected movement on the right hand shore and turned to see what appeared to be the silhouette of a large cat looking back at me. This photo shows the opening that leads into a dark area beneath a stand of hemlocks where the animal was seen...

As I sat in my boat pondering what kind of creature it might be, I heard loud splashing behind the bushes in front of me. This was followed by considerable movement of the bushes and it seemed that either King Kong or at least a moose was about to appear. Just then the creature made his appearance as he climbed across a fallen tree that took it to the other side. Not a cat but a river otter. Not sure which of us was more spooked by the encounter.
Resuming my trip upriver, I paddled the narrow and winding section where the Gleasondale mill chimney can first be seen. An osprey was soaring overhead and emitting its unique call. Approaching the Route 62 overpass I had 65 pieces of trash onboard. Behind the snags downstream of the bridge was the mother lode that kept me busy for nearly an hour and brought my total to 117. Took this photo during the transloading process just downstream of the bridge...

After stowing most of the trash below deck, I headed downriver and was surprised to see my total for the day reach 140 before arriving back at Ice House Landing. Of these, 90 were recyclable (25 redeemable) (35 nip bottles!) and 50 were misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, fishing gear, and a four-foot fluorescent light bulb. My YTD total stands at 3178.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Al, I'd love to paddle that stretch of the Assabet but I'm unsure where the Ice House Landing launch point is. Is it easily accessible?

Suasco Al said...

Anonymous, I've found the Ice House Landing to be easily accessed. It is located in Maynard off of Route 117. The street to look for is Winter Street which is just a little east of the Rt. 62/Rt. 117 junction.
Winter Street brings you into the Maynard DPW yard. Stay to the right side and just before reaching the first bldg. on the right there is a small parking spot off the pavement. To reach the Landing requires walking across the old RR bed, through some granite posts into a clearing with informational kiosks. A small path takes you to a spot ideal for canoe and kayak launching.