This afternoon, I launched my boat at River Road in Sudbury and headed upriver under mostly cloudy skies. The temperature and humidity were much lower and there was a little touch of fall in the air. My intentions were to revisit this section of river and make it a little further upstream than I did last week, and get in a little distance training for an upcoming saltwater event on Sunday.
Trash was fairly light and I only had 12 empty containers by the time I reached the Heard Pond outlet. This is where the river gets narrow, there are numerous bends, and the current is much more apparent. This is also where the cardinal flowers start appearing. In the area between the Allen Morgan Avian Study sign and the overhead power lines, my trash count went from 12 to 28 and my deck was pretty well full with plastic bottles and beer cans.
The power line crossing was the point at which I turned around last week. Today, I kept paddling upriver, noting that most of the usual obstacles are well submerged.
Though almost everything is in bloom, the cardinal flowers are the real 'show' in this stretch. There are more here than on the Concord near Great Meadows. In some places, they line both sides of the river. It is quite a transition to go from paddling where the river has wide marshlands on both sides to where one is now looking at a 20 foot high sandbank on the river's right side. From this sandbank area to the old stone bridge I noted a substantial amount of trash that will have to wait for the next patrol. I paddled around the right side of the old bridge, through where the missing portal used to be, and then proceeded under the Stone Bridge Road bridge and up to the Aqueduct which crosses above the river in a graceful arch. This large pipe carries water from the Wachusett Reservoir to Greater Boston.
At this location, I turned around and headed back to my starting point. Aside from a few guys fishing at Pelham Island Road, I saw not a soul and could easily have imagined myself to be paddling in a remote area.
Hopefully, today's paddle helped to prepare me to cover 13 miles in this coming Sunday's 'Bird Island Challenge'. This event is held annually in Buzzards Bay and helps to raise funds for the Gleason Family YMCA in Wareham. This link has more info: http://www.allaboutrivers.com/Fund_Raiser/Bird_Island_Challenge-e709-m8-y2008.html
The event's founder is Richard Wheeler, who once paddled a kayak from Newfoundland to Cape Cod, retracing the migratory route of the great auk. The story of his voyage became a Nova television program and can be found at the following link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/programs/2113_gonebird.html
Wildlife observed today were 2 large hawks near the high banks, red-winged blackbirds, eastern kingbirds, blue-winged teal, great blue herons, painted turtles, and a musquash.
My trash count for the day was 28 (23 of which were recycleable) bringing YTD total to 1522.