Thursday, August 30, 2012

Merrimack River - Southwell Park to Middlesex Village

Late this morning I launched into the Merrimack River at Southwell Park in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts and headed downriver towards Middlesex Village.  Across the river from the ramp the City of Lowell's drinking water intake facility can be seen (at left). 

Conditions were spectacular and I felt fortunate to be out on the water.  With today being the next to last day in August it reminded me of a voyage started by John and Henry Thoreau on the last day of August in 1839 (173 years ago).  On the second day of their voyage they passed through this section of the Merrimack after exiting the Middlesex Canal locks in Middlesex Village.  Their trip took them upriver all the way to Hooksett, New Hampshire.  Coincidently, today I would recover 131 Hooksett disks that were accidentally released from the Town of Hooksett's wastewater treatment facility in March of 2011.  They make nice poker chips.

There were also a few Cardinal flowers...

At Stony Brook these railcars were resting before heading north...
 
This railroad line was being built in 1839 and, when finished, eliminated the need for the system of locks used by the Thoreau brothers to navigate the Merrimack to Hooksett.
 
As I passed under the Rourke Bridge the breeze was building...
 
 
I continued downriver until the Pawtucket Dam came into view...
 
 
It was here that I stopped at a small sandy beach before heading back, and where most of the Hooksett disks were found.
 
On the way upriver I crossed over to the river's other side in hopes of finding less breeze.  The flag at the UMass Lowell Boathouse attests to how little relief was found...
 
 
Once back at Southwell Park, the day's haul was regurgitated from my boat...
 
Today's trash composition was 60 recyclable containers (5 redeemable) and 182 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish including plastic bags, styrofoam and the aforementioned 131 Hooksett disks.
YTD = 5129
 
The interstate nature of trash found in the Merrimack can be seen in the fact that half of the beer cans had no redemption stamp (having been purchased in New Hampshire).
 
This past Sunday Mrs. Trashpaddler and I rode our bicycles to where the Mighty Merrimack enters the Atlantic Ocean at Plum Island's northern tip.  By arriving very early in the morning we found ample parking at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and enjoyed a day of biking and swimming from one end of the barrier island to the other.  We also enjoyed biking over the drawbridge to Bob Lobster for lunch.  Brought me back to when I spent time there as a kid in the late 1950s.





2 comments:

PenobscotPaddles said...

Poker with Hooksett disks?? The loser takes them home?

Suasco Al said...

Good point!
Actually I've got nearly a thousand of the little beauties soaking in a bucket of bleach out back.
Mrs. Trashpaddler is mortified!