This past Sunday, I participated in the Charles River Watershed Association's 26th 'Run of the Charles'. It is a great way to celebrate the progress being made in cleaning up the Charles. Approximately 1400 participants paddle in their choice of five different races.
I paddled the stretch of river from Riverdale Park in Dedham to Herter Park in Boston. It's a journey of 19 miles through a wide variety of river environments from broad expanses of marsh to narrow sections through old industrial areas. Portages also vary between scenic trails such as Hemlock Gorge, sidewalks of Route 16 in Wellesley, and back alleys between mills in downtown Waltham.
This year's journey started out cloudy and cool and got even cooler as we neared Boston and the east wind blowing in from the ocean. The cool conditions aren't a problem while you're paddling but can become a problem when you reach the end of the race and stop generating heat. The first order of business upon arriving a Herter Park, is getting into some dry clothes.
Images lingering in my memory are the sight of a life sized wooden Indian gazing out from a point of land near Norumbega, a wooden black bear on an island in the same area, looking up at bridges carrying Route 128 and the Mass Pike high above the river, all traffic on Waltham's Moody Street stopped so that I can wheel my kayak across this busy street in the city where I grew up, and two small herons watching me paddle by in Watertown or Newton.
All in all, it is great to see the Charles River get such a special day! Every river should be so lucky.