Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Stillwater Surprise

Got a nice surprise when I dropped into the Stillwater River in Sterling this past Monday.  The surprise wasn't this great little waterfall created by beavers...
...and not this scenic view of Wachusett Mtn. to the northwest...
...and not this cool, shady stretch of  river on a hot afternoon...

The surprise was not seeing one piece of trash...no plastic bottles, no nip bottles, no Styrofoam cups, no beer cans, no plastic bags.  Just a pristine river looking as it should.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Charles Interrupted

The Charles River in the area of King Philip's Lookout in Sherborn was a quiet and peaceful place this past Monday afternoon.  While paddling on the river I paused there to enjoy some lunch and saw first hand the effects from this year's Gypsy Moth Caterpillar infestation.  The leaves on many of the deciduous trees had been devoured...
Now the caterpillars had morphed into swarms of brown moths that flew about aimlessly.  I watched as several flights terminated upon wings hitting the water.  With wings too wet for flight they continued flitting until the rising mouths of fish brought the whole ugly cycle to an end.  At least the fish got a meal.

Then in the distance I heard the unmistakable call of a train and experience told me it would soon be causing a bit of a ruckus here on the Charles.  I positioned my boat just downstream of the bridge and waited as the unseen mass of diesel power approached.  Then it emerged from behind the hill and stepped lightly across the river as if 3 locomotives totaling 9,000 horsepower could do such a thing...
   
CSX units 6247, 6214, and 6236 pulled 50 freight cars across the river as they made their way from Framingham back to Readville.

After the last car cleared the bridge...
  ...peace and quiet were once again restored and a musquash went about the business of moving freight on a much smaller scale...

Not a lot of trash...

Writing this post I'm reminded that on this day 200 years ago Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, MA.  One of my favorite Thoreau quotes is from Walden (Economy):
"Above all, as I have implied, the man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off."



Friday, July 7, 2017

Oxbows through Bolton Flats

Got an early start yesterday launching into the Nashua River from the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge's upper launch in Harvard, MA.  I paddled upriver in hopes of reaching the blowdown that stopped my downriver progress from Rt. 117 back in June.  The morning was cool and quiet with hardly any breeze as I worked my way slowly through the Bolton Flats, dealing with one blowdown after another.  Trash was plentiful and my boat was at capacity before reaching my turnaround spot 2.8 miles upriver from where I'd launched.

In that almost 3 miles of river there are only a few signs of civilization.  The still active railroad bridge is one...
...and this smaller truss-type bridge crossing an inlet is another...
...perhaps a component of the Bolton Flats trail?

About 2 miles upriver from the launch a half-mile long ridge keeps the river at its foot on the west side...

On the riverbank opposite the ridge a 4-point buck was bedded down until he and I surprised one another.  I reached for my camera, but he was faster on the draw...and gone.

Trash recovered along the way...

Could easily have gathered another boatload. 



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Catacunemaug, Nashua, and Umbagog?

Paddled a sweet stretch of the Nashua River early Monday morning.  After launching from the Bill Ashe Visitor Center in Devens, I explored the lower half of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge between the Ice House Dam and the osprey nest above Route 2.  Also ventured a short ways into Catacunemaug Brook...
 
As a fan of Native American place names I was researching the word "Catacunemaug" and found that there's an old mill building in Shirley known as "Umbagog on the Catacunemaug".  Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?  I'd only heard the word "Umbagog" before in reference to a pristine lake in Maine.

Wildlife encounters included 3 white-tailed deer, a river otter, many musquash, kingfishers, blue and green herons, several large snapping turtles, and this osprey...

Also encountered a fair bit of trash, especially behind this one fallen tree which served as a trash trap...
 
 
Now it's ready to catch some more...


By paddle's end my boat was at capacity...

Always seem to find lots of one-quart glass beer bottles in this stretch.  Yesterday there were 11 of them.

Happy Fourth!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

July's Frosty Start

Yesterday being the first Saturday of the month could only mean one thing...Denise Hurt and the New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club Paddlers would be kicking-off July with a Trash Patrol.  So, on an appropriately steamy summer's morn a dozen paddle-propelled boats launched into the Mighty Merrimack from Frost Road Park in Tyngsboro, and headed out in pairs...

Most of the recovered trash went into deck-mounted plastic crates.  However some items, such as this plastic trash barrel, required custom rigging...

At the patrol's conclusion folks went about separating the recyclables from the rubbish and tallying-up the haul...
Recovered from the river were the following:
227 recyclable plastic or glass containers, 343 pieces of rubbish which included 5 automobile tires, a large Styrofoam block, 2 plastic 55-gallon drums, 1 plastic trash barrel, 5 syringes, and 11 "Hookset Disks". 

The disks seen below as "cash on the barrel" are some of the more than 4 million released from an upriver wastewater treatment plant into the Merrimack on a stormy March night back in 2011...


Post-patrol the group enjoyed an early July 4th cookout at Frost Park alongside the bend in the Merrimack...