Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday Afternoon's Patrol to Concord Junction

Thanks to a new work schedule, I was free at noon. The day that dawned snowy and later rainy was now sunny with temperatures in the 40s... a good afternoon to spend in my other realm, waterworld. After a quick stop at home to gear up, I was breaking ice near shore to gain entry for my boat and I. About 10 minutes of methodical ice breaking and we were free and drifting down the main channel. The sky was deep blue and, even though it was breezy, I was snug and warm in my boat's cockpit. On the way to Egg Rock, I encountered an aluminum canoe that, like I, had decided to head out on the river today. The fact that it had no occupant as guide left it at the mercy of the wind and current. If it had a bowline, I would have had tied it off to a tree or dock.
Arriving at Egg Rock, it was time to decide on a route. If not for the breezy conditions, I would have headed down the Concord River, but on a windy day such as this, the Assabet is the better choice. Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best "It is sheltered from the breeze by woods and a hillside; so that elsewhere there might be a hurricane, and here scarcely a ripple across the shaded water" in Mosses from an Old Manse.
Paddling by the Leaning Hemlocks, I recall Hawthorne's preceding sentence "A more lovely stream than this, for a mile above its junction with the Concord, has never flowed on earth, -nowhere, indeed, except to lave the interior of a poet's imagination". I came across Hawthorne's descriptions in Ron McAdow's The Concord, Sudbury and Assabet Rivers, a guide to canoeing, wildlife, and history. This book has a wealth of information on the 3 rivers that compose SUASCO and provides the wouldbe paddler with launch sites, distances, safety tips, and detailed descriptions of the rivers and all the various forms of life in and along them.
Going by Dove Rock, the river's height can be gauged. Another 6 inches and Dove Rock will be submerged. Little more than a month ago, nearly 2 feet of the rock was exposed. Just past Willow Island an empty Heineken bottle is my first recovery. It sits alone on my deck until about a mile before Route 2 when it is joined by some nip bottles and empty water bottles. Between there and Route 2, my count would climb to 12 and reaching my turnaround point at the commuter rail bridge in Concord Junction I had 19 empty containers. My dry bag was full.
On the easy paddle back downstream, I would watch the 3/4 moon, that sat high in the sky, grow gradually brighter as twilight approached. Wildlife observed consisted of robins, cardinals, hawks and squirrels. Near the Nashawtuc Road bridge, I saw the paddlerless canoe trapped in the brush.
A 1-liter soda bottle, some pint bottles and a can of "OFF" brought my total trash count for the day to 23 empty containers. Year to date: 154

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