Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 A Year of Low Water


I’ll remember this past year the most for having been the “ying” to the preceding year’s “yang”.  Where 2015 started out as intolerable, 2016 got off to a very pleasant start with signs of spring being seen and felt a good 3 weeks early. 

Helping to start the year off on a good note was an early January trash patrol on the Neponset River with Erik and Bill...
 
 
While the weather conditions for early season paddling were great it soon became apparent that water levels were steadily declining, and the opening photo shows just how low the water levels often were at Concord's Egg Rock.  First the brooks ran dry and soon thereafter portions of the Assabet and Sudbury Rivers became non navigable, even by kayak.  This resulted in more than a few river relics coming to light during the dryer months such as this mostly glass round-up from the Assabet River on July 31st...

 
On other occasions the Stillwater River produced a vintage ‘Gansett can identical to the one Robert Shaw crushed with one hand in the movie “Jaws”.   The Assabet River coughed up the following old bottles: Father John’s Medicine, Dazzle laundry brightener, and a green Maydale Spring beverage bottle.  The Assabet also allowed the handle of this beehive-shaped little brown jug to stick up out of the mud...
 

The Concord River contributed bottles from Boston based Oates & Shaw, Lexington based French Bros., and a bottle of M.A. Seed film developer used in the early days of photography.  The Oates & Shaw was the grittiest...
 
The Charles River signed in with a sign reminding folks to “Rekindle Your Free Spirit”…
 …I like to think paddling has rekindled mine.

Oddly, later in the year, when water levels were on the rise, the Sudbury River contributed a floating S.O. Dunbar ink/medicine bottle dating from the late 1800s...
 
The above items were added to my collection of “Waterway Keepables” which continues to require more and more shelf space…
 
A new river paddled this year was the Housatonic in Connecticut from its mouth up to the first dam in Derby.  Paddling this 12 mile tidal stretch over 2 days produced a fair bit of plastic flotsam…
 
 
One section of the Assabet River which perennially produces more trash than my boat can hold is the stretch between Cox Street in Hudson and the Gleasondale Dam in Stow…
 
It was another good year for trashpaddlin' several waterways to the northward with the New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club Paddlers gang...
 
This year also included participating in the OARS Annual River Cleanup.  The OARS event is a multi-town project which tackles trash removal from the Assabet, Concord, and Sudbury rivers.  My efforts were on the Assabet above Powder Mill Dam.
 
As for wildlife, I encountered eagles more often and on more waterways than any previous year.  They were encountered in 2016 on the following waterways: Assabet River (twice), Connecticut River (three times), Contoocook River, Lake Champlain, Stillwater River, Sudbury, and Tully rivers.  My favorite eagle photograph was taken on the Connecticut River in Fairlee, VT…
 
On July the Fourth I encountered first this young coyote or fox playing with his litter mates on the banks of the Concord River…
...and secondly this majestic buck...
 
In addition to the above, white-tailed deer sightings in general were plentiful this year. A photo of my favorite encounter on the Sudbury River in Wayland…
 
Came across this wood duck on the Stillwater River who was willing to stay still long enough for me to take his photo...

 
My favorite 2016 paddle revisiting an historical event was “Ticonderoga to Skenesborough” which followed the route American forces used in their pre-dawn evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga via Lake Champlain’s southernmost reaches.  The trip resulted from my reading of Nathaniel Philbrick's Valiant Ambition which was my favorite read of the year.

 

Unfortunately, 2016 is ending in a most divisive manner which leaves me greatly troubled as we enter 2017.  One thing that worries me is folk’s willingness to accept as 'factual' news that they see, hear, or read on the internet without first considering the journalistic reputation of the source.  However, troubling me even more are the people, claiming to be journalists, who knowingly dispense false information.  Before accepting as fact anything I see, hear, or read on the internet, I first consider the source and secondly look to see if any reputable news organization will verify its accuracy.  To me, ‘false news’ is the ultimate slippery slope of our time.

Perhaps this photo taken on the Charles River in April of a wily coyote swimming across my boat’s bow is symbolic of tricksters lurking amongst us…


 
 Happy and safe paddling in the coming new year!

 

 
 
 

 



3 comments:

Jay Edler said...

Well said. The prospects for 2017 are troubling, but we can't let the prospects deter us.

Erik Eckilson said...

Happy New Year Al - hope we can paddle again soon.

Trashpaddler said...

Thanks Erik and Happy New Year to you as well. Agree on paddling again. RI waters may be my southern escape this winter.