Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Strange Fair Haven

To say conditions on the Sudbury River were a little strange today would be an understatement.  The launch at Sherman's Bridge looked like it would on a Saturday in April, and was busy with boaters launching a variety of crafts.  I saw an electric-powered canoe and a gasoline powered TRYAK along with several bass-type fishing boats.

I headed downriver with plans to visit Fairhaven Bay.  Along the way I encountered several marsh hawks and this sun-worshiping blue heron...

Before reaching the bay I approached Lee's Bridge...
...and needed to decide which portal to pass through.  It was a fairly inconsequential decision and the low-clearance option was selected...
However, having recently seen the movie "In the Heart of the Sea"  I found myself thinking about how the officers and crew of the whaling ship Essex were faced with a far more crucial decision following the sinking of their mother ship out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 1820.  They had no way to call for help.  No other ships were aware of their position.  They found themselves split between 3 small whale-boats and needed to decide in which direction to head in trying to reach refuge.  If, like me, you like a good seafaring story that's based on fact, you may want to check out this film while it's still in the theatres.  Check out the trailer.  Or even better check out the book the film is based on, In the Heart of the Sea, the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.

I arrived at Fairhaven Bay to find unbelievable conditions for late December...

There was not even one crystal of ice anywhere in the large bay.  Four fishing boats were spread across the bay giving the appearance of a typical spring weekend.  One fisherman worked from his electric-powered canoe...

If this was the last paddle of 2015 it would make an ideal one for closing out the year.

Very little trash was found...


Friday, December 25, 2015

Quiet Xmas on the Assabet

Prior to this morning I always thought the quietest morning of the year was the morning after July 4th.  Now I realize that Christmas morning is actually far and away the most quiet and peaceful morning of the year.  Come to think of it, I'd never been out on the river on a Christmas morning until today.

Upon launching into the lower Sudbury River in Concord it was evident that Tuesday night's heavy rains had resulted in higher water levels and stronger currents.  The inscription at Egg Rock today...
 ...compared to how it looked 12 days ago...

I ascended the Assabet River up to Nashoba Brook where the higher water levels allowed passage up to the pedestrian bridge near Nashoba Bakery in West Concord...

The day was warm, the winds were light, the sun was shining and it just felt great to be out on the river in such wonderful conditions.

The extra flows had nudged trash out from hiding places and resulted in this modest Xmas haul...
 Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Solemn Sudbury River

Had the day off from work today and while the weather wasn't ideal it was kind of to my liking...cloudy, temps in the 40's, occasional drizzle, and little wind.  Very peaceful and more than a little moody.

I launched from Route 20 in Wayland and headed up the Sudbury River with thoughts of possibly entering Heard Pond (if river levels had risen enough).

Other than vehicles on Route 20 and Pelham Island Road, I saw not a soul.  No fishermen, no duck hunters, no golfers, no one at the Greenways, and no one at Indian Point where folks are often seen with their dogs...

When I reached the narrow channel leading into Heard Pond I found the beaver dam there had recently been elevated to new heights...
It would take more than a running start to get my boat over this structure, so I headed further upriver to a spot where I could view Heard Pond from a small drumlin between the pond and river...

This small plant on the side of the drumlin looked surprisingly vibrant compared to everything else...

...whereas this old fallen tree looked more than petrified...

As I headed back downriver the predicted rain moved in just about on schedule.  It'd been awhile since I paddled in the rain and it was actually enjoyable as my gear allowed me to stay warm and dry.

Trash recovered along the way...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giving Trash a Brake in 2015


 
This slideshow depicts the results of my braking for trash while paddling various waterways in 2015.
 *Note: The following images are disturbing and could result in some beverage producers wanting their empty plastic containers to have a monetary value. 
video
 

 
Experienced some new bits of the following rivers: Assabet, Blackstone, Connecticut, Merrimack, Nashua, Neponsett, Piscataqua, Salmon, Salmon Falls, Squamscott, Squannacook, Taunton, and Westport. 

Also got out on some new lakes and ponds: Lake Chaubunagamaug, Delaney flood control, Harriman Reservoir, Monponsett Pond, Lake Potanipo, Wallum Lake, Whitehall Reservoir.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Paddlin' the Rocks Route


First of all, greetings and salutations to my new best friend, El Nino...a great fellow indeed.  Thanks to his stellar efforts we here in Massachusetts were gifted with yet another balmy December morning.

I launched into a very calm Sudbury River and paddled down to Egg Rock where the inscription remains high and dry (photo at left).  Continuing downstream, now on the Concord River, brought me past this rather large power boat that didn't seem too concerned about the river's shallow depths...
I think the vessel could have even made it under the Lowell Road bridge with the radio antennae up.

The Old North Bridge was hosting a few visitors...

Further along I ran into this guy who'd once been the life of the party...

Past Sawmill Brook was this collection of scent mounds...
...and still a little further this beaver lodge where the secret entrance is exposed for all to see...

Rounding the last bend brought me to the long straight-a-way...

After passing under a very tranquil Route 225 bridge...
...I arrived at my destination Two Brothers Rocks...
...where John Winthrop and his daughter's father-in-law, Thomas Dudley, divvied things up after stepping out of the canoe that brought them downriver back in 1638....Winthrop took the 1200 acres south of the rocks and Dudley took the 1000 acres to the north.
The kiosk there includes this old photo and related text...

Sitting on a bench there while eating a fig newton, I looked southward and wondered what it would be like to step out of my kayak someday and proclaim ownership of such a large tract of land...

On the return trip upriver I encountered a pair of immature eagles perched in what was once Winthrop's parcel.  I was thinking osprey until the large bird turned its head...

Other wildlife seen today were blue herons, Canada geese, and a belted kingfisher.

The river was busy with human visitors also...guys fishing from a small power boat, a guy in waders doing some fly fishing, single and double canoes, and a pair of kayakers.  Also seen was this horse and rider traversing one of the riverside trails...

Good to see so many folks drawn to the river on a day in mid-December.  Thanks again Senor El Nino.

Some trash rounded up along the way...
In fact the only thing that hinted at my least favorite four-letter word was the blue boogie board designed for sliding down the stuff.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Countdown On Hold

December 11th is when I usually begin my 100 days till spring countdown.  However since it already feels like spring the start of this winter's countdown will be delayed until further notice. 

On this almost balmy morning I launched into the Assabet River at Cox Street in Hudson and paddled downriver to the dam at Gleasondale where the mill buildings can be seen below the dam...



Some trash gathered up along the way...

Monday, December 7, 2015

Exploring Beyond the Wall

Since paddling up to the Tyler Flood Control Dam (photo at left) this past June, I've been curious about what's on the other side of that concrete wall.  Today, thanks to an early finish of a job in that area, I got a chance to get out on the Assabet and take a look.

While the weather wasn't quite as nice as it was in June, it was pretty "dam" nice for the 7th day of December.  Sunny, with temps in the 50s and hardly any wind at all.  Is this a dream?


I launched from the Boundary Street bridge and headed downriver...

Just below the bridge was this television enclosure...
...minus the guts.

A little below that was this floating computer terminal...

Gather someone didn't want to deal with having them properly disposed of.

Before reaching the dam I passed the outfall for Marlborough's Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant which was contributing good flow to the river...

Arriving at the Tyler Flood Control Dam's upstream side I was surprised by how different it looks versus the downstream side (in opening photo)...

This photo provides a closer look at the outlet structure...

As explained in Ron McAdow's The Concord, Sudbury, and Assabet Rivers  "If you were a fish or a muskrat you could swim through a pipe in the base of the dam.  In normal conditions this culvert conducts the whole Assabet.  At flood stage, the culvert would not be large enough for all the water, which would back up and deepen until it reached a set of intakes.  These are over a canoeist's head when the river is within its banks.  If the water were high enough to reach these intakes, the broad state-owned floodplain through which you just canoed would be a sizable lake."

The embankment for the nearby Millham Reservoir is visible just to the east...



With my curiosity now satisfied I paddled back to Boundary Street and then continued another .75 miles upriver until a large tree across the river stopped my ascent around river mile 7.  Fortunately, there was a picnic table on a wooded point of land where lunch could be taken...

The nearby outcropping ledge offered a face-like profile...

Heading back down to the takeout there was sky, straw, and water...

Before I knew it Boundary Street appeared and my 100th paddle of 2015 came to an end. 

Trash didn't amount to much except for the aforementioned computer and television enclosure...
Thanks to the Marlborough Public Works Department for allowing me to leave the computer with them for proper disposal.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bonus Day at Oxbow


Saw lots of cars carrying items atop their roofs yesterday but, unlike my boat, their items were green and pointed at only one end.   The day was splendid, especially considering it's December, and it was hard to believe I had the Nashua River in Harvard all to myself.

In paddling the river between the railroad bridge (near Oxbow Wildlife Refuge) and Jackson Road, I saw many signs of otters but not the critters themselves.  Perhaps they were all holed up somewhere on account of all the gunfire and artillery booms emanating from Fort Devens.  Not sure if it's like this every Saturday or if it's a reflection of recent events. 

There were numerous exit ramps from the river such as this...
...which are in the area where I've seen otters before.  It's also possible beavers could have made the ramp.

The deceased deer I saw on the riverbank last month was now in the river, a little further downstream...

The backwaters between Route 2 and Jackson Road remain open water with hardly a trace of ice...
...and that's a good thing.

Trash wasn't bad...
...though a little nippy.