Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Breaking the Ice for 2008

Tuesday's record warmth demanded this paddler to break the ice and get in his first 'Trash Paddle' of 2008. My hope was that 4 days of unusually mild weather for January would have melted the ice that formed from 3 days of unusually frigid weather last week. It took only a short distance on the Assabet River to find that ice doesn't melt as fast as I hoped. Just upstream of Egg Rock, the ice was fairly thin and I could break through it. However, as I went further upstream, the ice kept getting thicker, until it stopped breaking and was 1/2 " thick. I could see the Leaning Hemlocks but could not get there. So, I decided to stop fighting Nature and head down the Concord River. Much better! As I approached the famous 'North Bridge' I encountered my first river trash of the New Year. A plastic water bottle, a styrofoam container, and a candy bar wrapper. Slim pickens, but better than nothing!

I thought about the recovered piece of 'trash' that I saw on display at the Concord Museum last Saturday. Back in 1980, during an unusually dry period, a man was showing his daughter how to fish in the Concord River. He saw something sticking up out of the mud. It was a 10,000 year old spear point! Encased in glass at the museum, it is awesome! Try to imagine how bad the person that lost it, felt. The hours or days that went into crafting it. What items might have been traded to aquire it? It was the high tech device of its time. It reminds me to be vigilant in my continuing search for stone tools or weapons. Perhaps 2008 will be the year.

After passing under the 'rude arch' I head around the bend and under Monument Street and less than a quarter mile further encounter more ice. Same drill as earlier, but again the ice eventually becomes 1/2 " thick and I am forced to back out and turn around. Arriving back at at Egg Rock, I decide to head up the Sudbury River expecting to encounter more ice as the Sudbury's flow is slower. Sure enough there is ice after the first bridge, but I am able to break through fairly easy. Going past the South Bridge boathouse, the river is still open, with ice along each side. Soon, I'm paddling under Route 2 and very happy I went against my hunch. After I round the bend at Clamshell Bank, I see 2 beavers on the ice that lay across the river up ahead. Here the breeze was warm, the sun was getting low in the sky, and it was close to 4 pm. Using binoculars, I observe the beavers doing their work for a while, then slowly paddle up to the end of open water, where the beavers asked me to leave with a few slaps of their tails. Letting the current turn my bow, I notice a big red tailed hawk silently watching over the area from his lofty perch. Now, with my paddling appetite temporarily sated, I head back to my launch site feeling reassured that Spring will return. Total empty containers recovered = 3

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