Friday, May 25, 2012

Paddling Passaconaway's Naticook Waters

Passaconaway is said to have been one of the most legendary Native American figures associated with the Merrimack River;  a true "larger than life" character.  As a Bashaba (chief of chiefs) and powerful shaman, he held sway over the large Pennacook federation of tribes at the time of contact with Europeans.  His domain reached from Pawtucket Falls in Lowell to north of Concord, NH.  After he had relinquished much of his people's land to the Europeans, and entered the last stage of his life, he petitioned the General Court in 1662 to grant him a parcel of land.  The Court granted him the requested parcel at a place called Naticook which today lies on both sides of the Merrimack River in the area of Litchfield and Merrimack, NH.  Naticook Island, just downstream of Reeds Ferry, is believed to have been his last residence in New Hampshire.
Therefore, I decided if Passaconaway picked this area over all the others he'd seen and experienced, it must be worth a visit.  Taking advantage of a pre-dawn start from home, I launched into the Merrimack River at the Depot Street Boat Ramp (Reeds Ferry Landing) a little before 6 am and paddled downriver towards Naticook Islands (there are 2)...
The one on the right is the larger of the two.

At its southern tip, I went ashore to drink in Passaconaway's downriver view...

Next, I relaunched and continued downriver to where the Souhegan River and Baboosic Brook enter from the west...

On the way, an osprey flew overhead...

Very soon after entering the Souhegan, I came to where Baboosic Brook flows in from the right.  However, ascending the Baboosic looks more than a little difficult due to several concrete pipes...
  
After retreating back to the Souhegan, I went around the next bend to find the Souhegan dropping towards me through a beautiful set of falls...
Oblivious to the morning's commuter traffic, a blue heron had a prime fishing spot staked out.

Impressive sand deposits below the falls made a nice spot for my brunch...

Following that, I returned to the Merrimack and began the upriver trip encountering this rather nasty  collection of flotsam on the way...
Here it is apres trash patrol...

By this time my trash haul was approaching overflow, so I landed on the gravelly beach at the north end of Passaconaway's island for a group photo and roll call...
There were 59 recyclable containers (no redemption in NH) and 80 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as 10 cans of spray paint, plastic bags, styrofoam, a Hooksett disk, a stuffed monster, and a child's lunch bag.  YTD = 2821  All of today's trash was recovered from a less than 2 mile stretch of the Merrimack.

Arriving back at the Depot Street Boat Launch, I encountered two women from Frankin, NH who are in the process of section paddling the entire Merrimack River.  Today they were paddling the stretch from Manchester to Nashua.  After having lunch with family members at the landing, they were last seen heading downriver.

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