Wednesday, July 30, 2008

High Summer Paddling on Springtime Water Levels

This afternoon's perfect weather enticed me to stop on the way home from work and launch my kayak in the town of Sudbury. I trash patrolled the Sudbury River from River Road/Route 27 to the power lines about a mile downstream from Stone Bridge Road. Thanks to the recent rains, the water levels were nice and high and everything from purple loosestrife and cardinal flowers to buttonbush was in bloom.
Found a few pieces of trash below Route 20 and noticed that a temporary bridge is being installed to carry traffic during the replacement of the Route 20 bridge. The temporary bridge looks like it might be the same one that carried Route 117 over the Sudbury while a new Lees Bridge was built in Lincoln. Right after Route 20, is the old wooden trestle that carried the rails of the Central Mass Railroad until the late 1970s or so.
By the time I passed under Pelham Island Road, I had 7 emptys that were fairly typical: Bud, Bud Light, Millers, Heineken, Coke, Pepsi, and several plastic water bottles. Reaching the outlet from Heard Pond I had 17 empty containers on my deck. After entering the oxbows between Heard Pond outlet and the sign for Allen Morgan Avian Area, I came upon a plethora of flotsam trapped behind a log. The 25 empty containers found here went into a trash bag in my lap until I found a place to land and stow it below deck.
I turned around at the power lines and began enjoying the river's current helping me back to River Road.
Wildlife observed were killdeers, eastern kingbirds, great blue herons, a cormorant, and painted turtles. Not many ducks or red-winged blackbirds seen today.
While out on the water, I saw no other boats, but arriving back at River Road several boats were being launched by fishermen.
My trash count for the day was 47 empty containers bringing my year to date total to 1460. I should mention that I always leave some trash so as not to totally deplete the Trashery stocks.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back on the mighty Assabet River

Today, between thunderstorms, I returned to patrolling the Assabet River from Egg Rock to Concord Junction and return. It was my first paddle since transitioning from the salt waters of Cape Ann back through the Lake Cochituate. Paddled the Middle and southern most Lakes on 7/17 and picked up a meager 3 pieces of trash.
I had been looking forward to a sunrise paddle on the Sudbury River with my daughter, HJ but a nasty thunderstorm at the unusual time of 4:15 am, put the kibosh on that plan. After checking the radar, I managed to squeeze in a 3 hour paddle on the Assabet.
Today's Assabet was nearly full with run-off from a week's worth of thunderstorms. The current was impressive. Most of the usual obstacles were submerged. Only about 4" of Dodge Rock was above the water's surface. Between Egg Rock and Route 2, I collected 14 empty containers. My deck was decorated with an eclectic assortment that included a potatoe chip bag, plastic water and juice bottles, beer cans, an empty bait tub, grocery store plastic bags, a champagne bottle, some monofilament fishing line, and a 'Limited Edition' Budweiser Red Sox 07 World Series beer container. This may be why the Red Sox have been playing so badly. This special container should be on a shelf and not just barely holding its neck above water. Hopefully, their play will now improve.
At any rate, I was stopped by a downed tree between the commuter rail bridge and Route 62 in Concord Junction. Turned around and headed back downriver noting the full growth of purple loosestrife and cardinal flowers. Lots of folks paddling on the Assabet today. Will end this post now as another T-storm is impending.
Trash count to date = 1413

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cochituate to Blackburn Challenge - a hop & a jump

This past week I transitioned from my usual river paddling to first the lakes of Cochituate and then the salty and livelier waters of Cape Ann.
Cochituate is a part of the SUASCO watershed that I had overlooked. I have paddled by the spot where Cochituate Brook enters the Sudbury River, but had never paddled the lakes that the brook's damming created back in the mid 1800s when Boston needed drinking water.
On Wednesday afternoon, I launched my kayak at the State Park and following the advice of a friend, headed through the tunnel under the Mass Pike, and into the North Lake. Following the left side of the lake brought me to the outlet where Cochituate Lake heads towards the river. TFord Co. was performing some construction work at the dam area. The only piece of flotsam I encountered was in this area. An aerosol can of string? With can under a bungee I proceeded to the upper end of the lake and then headed south into the building southwest breeze. This provided me with some wind driven chop to help me prepare for what I might encounter on the ocean waters off Cape Ann. Soon, I had gone back through the tunnel and into the Middle lake, crossed it, and passed through a triangular shaped rock bridge that carries the railroad tracks that ran from Natick to Saxonville. This will soon be the Cochituate Rail Trail. I passed the waterfall at Boston Scientific, which was once the Carling Beer Brewery, and glided under the busy Route 9 and into the South Lake which looks to be the largest of the 3 Lakes. Paddled back to the State Park launch site and was enroute home well before the predicted thunderstorms.
Yesterday, I joined with several hundred paddlers and rowers to accept the Blackburn Challenge and propel my kayak around the 'island' portion of Cape Ann. In this event, hosted by the Cape Ann Rowing Club, one finds themselves paddling or rowing alongside everything from banks dories, to 'state of the art' surf skis. One guy did the approx. 20-mile distance using only his arms while laying on a paddleboard! It included 40' long 6-person outrigger canoes and nearly equally large rowing gigs. It is a true celebration of the human engine! And the scenery isn't bad either!
Near the starting line at the railroad drawbridge, I scooped up 2 empty plastic bottles which came along for the ride. I paddled up the Annisquam River and into Ipswich Bay, past Lanes Cove and Folly Cove to Hailbut Point, then Andrew's Point, whereI took aim at the twin Lighthouses of Thacher's Island on the other side of Sandy Bay. Just past Thacher's is Milk Island and from here to eastern Point is the longest section of the trip. It seemed to take forever to finally round Eastern Point and get a glimpse of the Boston skyline through the haze. At this point, with weary arms, I rounded the Dogbar Breakwater and paddled through the whalewatch boat waked waters of Gloucester Harbor. This last 1.5 miles can be tricky and I was very relieved to safely cross the Finish Line and land my kayak on the beach near the 'Greasy Pole'. All participants then celebrated their making it around with good food, good music, and best of all, good beer on tap. Long live the legend of Howard Blackburn!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sudbury River- Rt. 62 to Sherman's Bridge & Back

Patrolled the Sudbury River at sunrise on this very quiet morning after the 4th of July. Conditions were cloudy skies, some low hanging fog/mist, river smooth as glass, and little to no wind. Because of the misty conditions, objects gradually emerged out of the blurry background. There were no sharp contrasts. Two spotted fawns thus materialized just downstream of the Route 2 bridge. They were bedded down in the marsh grass. Also observed numerous red-winded blackbirds, a few belted kingfishers, 1 eastern kingbird, mumerous tree swallows, great blue herons, 1 green heron, 1 muskquash, and the usual geese and ducks. Most of the trash was in the area of the Sudbury Road bridge, as usual. Had 26 empty containers before going under the bridge. From there all the way to Sherman's Bridge, there was only 1 plastic bag.
Once again, the I had the river pretty much to myself. I encountered 1 person fishing from a blue kayak in Fairhaven Bay. No motor boats at all. At Sherman's Bridge, there were 4 guys sitting in lawn chairs. They had their fishing poles attached to the bridge and it looked like they were fishing on the bottom, perhaps for carp. After passing under the bridge, I turned around at the buoy and began heading back downriver. Reaching the Route 2 bridge, I came across the same 2 spotted fawns, but this time their mother was with them. Then just before the railroad bridge, I spotted another doe bedded down in the grass.
Today's paddle was quite different than the paddling I'll be doing at the same time next saturday. Then, my paddle blades will be dipping into the salty water of Cape Ann as I participate in the annual Blackburn Challenge in Gloucester, MA. Participants circumnavigate Cape Ann in human powered boats of all kinds. Check it out at:
At my take-out location, I had 27 empty containers, 18 of which were recycleable. YTD = 1410