Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Weir Hill & Return

Early this morning, I awoke to the sound of rain beating against my window. Fearing that the overnight storm had bogged down, I decided to check the latest weather radar and saw that the large body of rain was moving rapidly to the east. Now, with a sense of optimism, I quickly completed the steps necessary to get my posterior into my boat and heading upriver by 7:00 am.
The rain had dwindled to a mist and the air temperature was in the mid to upper fifties. Balmy compared to recent mornings!
I soon reached the Sudbury Road/Heath's Bridge landing and saw that the large trash bags mentioned in last Sunday's post were still snagged on the trees. Landed on the small sandy beach and began dealing with the trash. One of the bags had ripped through at the bottom resulting in all the heavy objects like bottles ending up on the ground. After working for 30 minutes or more, I had recovered 106 empty containers. My boat's storage compartments and deckbag were full and my deck was duly decorated . This bounty of trash consisted of plastic bags, plastic and glass bottles, beer/soda cans, bait tubs, wads of fishing line, and coffee cups.
Back on the water, my boat and I began moving towards Martha's Point and Fairhaven Bay. The low lying mist was now rising to the tops of the highest pines and the sky was brightening. Belted kingfishers were flying ahead as my vanguards. At Fairhaven Bay I stopped in the middle to enjoy my favorite energy drink and a power bar. Sitting here alone, how could I not feel as though I were king of all I surveyed?
Before leaving the bay, I came upon two balloons tied together and floating in the southwest corner. The balloons were labelled as celebrating 75 years of United Way in Androscoggin County, Maine. Hard to believe they could have drifted this far south!
My fuel guage now pinned on Full, I continued my journey upriver and soon passed under the smaller of the two archways at Lee's Bridge. A little upstream of the outlet from Farrar's Pond, I heard an osprey announce that he was leaving his perch. I watched as he performed his aerial acrobatics above the broad expanse of river and marsh between there and Macone's farm. Several times he would slow down and begin to rise upwards before folding into his dive position and shooting straight down for the water. Twice he pulled out of his dive just before hitting the water and once he hit the water with a big splash but came up empty. Hopefully, he got lucky later on.
Reaching Weir Hill, I landed there and stretched my legs. The remnants of the stormclouds were rapidly being replaced my a deep blue sky and it was getting quite warm. Stowed my paddling jacket behind my boat's seatback and began a leisurely trip downriver.
Approaching the point where the river opens into Fairhaven Bay, I saw Mike fishing from his electrically powered canoe. I watched as he cast his line towards the shore and soon saw his rod bending sharply. At first I thought he might be snagged on some shore bushes, but seeing quite a bit of movement in his rod, I realized he had hooked a good one. Drifting towards his position, I watched as he deftly landed a sizeable large mouthed bass, and held it up so I could get a photo, before releasing it back into the river. He estimated it to be all of 5 lbs if not more. Now, I know why so many folks fish here. Mike uses 2 batteries and an electric trolling motor to propel his canoe 4 miles upriver to Fairhaven Bay and back. Quite a nice setup. No noise and no fuel to mess with.
Downstream of Heath's Bridge, I encountered another fellow fishing from a canoe.
Approaching Clamshell Bank (near Emerson Hospital), I enjoyed watching as a red-tailed hawk actively patrolled the area.
At my takeout location, I removed 112 empty containers from my boat bringing my YTD total to 2152. Probably one of the more enjoyable paddles of the season!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Website Offering a Virtual Paddle on the Sudbury

I just stumbled upon an excellent website regarding the SUASCO waters and added it to my relevant links. The link is:
It is hosted by the Sudbury Assabet & Concord Wild & Scenic River Stewardship Council and includes a Sudbury River Boater's Trail. This trail guide divides a 15 mile section of the river into three 5-mile sub-sections and provides a map, great photographs, and information about put-in/take-out locations. This a great resource for anyone planning to paddle a stretch of this beautiful river or for those who want to take a virtual paddle.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Concord River - Egg Rock to Balls Hill & Back

This afternoon's sunny skies and light winds made for an enjoyable paddle on the Concord River. It being a little cool at the start required having some hot cocoa onboard for the first time this season.
Heading downriver from Egg Rock, I encountered a couple of kayakers just before reaching the Old North Bridge. Trash was pretty spotty and mostly stuff that had been in the water a long time. By the time I passed the Great Meadows landing, I had accumulated a dozen empty containers. Reaching Saw Mill Brook, I recovered somebody's wheel cover from the river's east bank. No roadways anywhere near this spot. Maybe it fell off a plane?
I decided to turnaround at the beaver lodge downstream of Ball's Hill. Landed on the small beach opposite the lodge and enjoyed my cocoa in the slowly warming late afternoon sun.
The trip back upriver was into a blinding sun. Quite a few folks taking in the Old North Bridge area. Made a brief foray onshore at the Old Calf Pasture to scoop up 5 more empty containers. That brought my total for the day to 19 and YTD total to 2040.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Rt.2 and Back

This afternoon I hoped to get in a trash patrol before the weather deteriorated. Events at worked conspired against me and resulted in my getting on the river just as the rain began. Since I had my water-proof paddling jacket and Seattle sombrero with me, I resigned myself to paddling in the rain and thoroughly enjoyed a little bit different kind of paddling experience.
I paddled the lower Sudbury River to Egg Rock, then the Assabet past the Leaning Hemlocks, past the decapitated coyote (faux coyote), past Dodge Rock, round Willow Island, and what the heck, I just kept heading upriver. Went past some new house construction just downstream from Spencer Brook on the river's west side. A beaver has a new lodge well underway. He's not too worried about the economy. Several small groups of Muscovite ducks were hanging around the Spencer Brook area as well. Another half mile upriver from Spencer Brook a doe and I had a staring match. She was very well camouflaged in shoulder-high grass and remained motionless as I paddled past her location.
Trash was mostly plastic bags snared on tree branches. These bags had been submerged until the recent drop in water level. One glass beer bottle and a couple of plastic water bottles were the only recyclables.
Stopped for a snack in the backwater upstream of Route 2 and found that with the engine in idle it didn't take long to cool down. Turned my bow downriver, fired up the engine and soon felt some heat being generated again. At a point about a 1/4 mile above Willow Island, I saw another two deer standing fairly close to a couple of faux coyotes. They took off showing their white tails prominently. The coyotes held their ground. These faux coyotes are placed in meadows near the river, I believe, in an attempt to scare away Canada geese. At dusk, they look quite real.
The wind and the rain began to pick up as I paddled the last stretch to my takeout location and I found myself looking forward to the hot cup of cocoa I would soon be sipping.
Ended up with 16 empty containers for the afternoon. YTD total = 2021

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Lee's Bridge and Back

My boat and I were on the water early this morning with plans to arrive at Fairhaven Bay in time to watch the sunrise. Heading upriver it soon became apparent that some stubborn clouds were going keep the curtains closed on the show.
Reaching Sudbury Road, I had a plastic bait tub and a large coffee cup under my deck's bungee cords. As I passed under the bridge, I espied a 24 oz. coffee coolatta container beckoning from the small sandy beach just upstream of the bridge. Finding it to be just beyond the reach of my outstretched paddle, a decision was made to send in a shore patrol.
Once on shore the coolatta was quickly scooped up along with 30 other assorted beer bottles, beer cans, plastic bags, and some fishing line that were hiding amongst the bushes. One of the larger beer bottles was a product I had neven seen before, "King Cobra Malted Liquor". Same size as the old "Colt 45" bottles. There was a large plastic trash bag tied to a tree. Looks like someone provided a container for trash but perhaps has no intention of removing or emptying the bag. If it is still there next week, I'll remove it and its contents.
Arriving at Fairhaven Bay, I found a fairly subdued gathering on the bay's waters. It consisted of an adult mute swan with two young ones, about a dozen Canada geese, a cormorant, a few mallards, and two guys fishing from a small outboard powered boat. Everyone was quietly going about their business. Here, I enjoyed a little breakfast break while letting the northeast breeze push me towards the bay's inlet. Paddled around the bend and soon was looking at Lee's Bridge. As I approached the bridge it occurred to me that just downstream on the west side of the river there looks to be a perfect spot for a boat launch. I wonder if that is intended now that the bridge project is just about finished. It would be a much easier spot to launch from than the present Rt. 117 launch site that requires launching into the end of a muddy channel.
Another advantage would be that the water near the bridge stays open much longer than the muddy channel which freezes very early and thaws very late.
Turning around at the bridge, I began my trip downriver. Added an empty 12-pack cardboard package and another beer can. Admiring some of the last peak foliage on the slope from the river's east bank I saw two deer browsing on some shrubs. Their coats are much darker in color these days. A little further downstream, a small downy woodpecker went about his business oblivious to my presence. Crossing the bay, I encountered the two fishermen seen earlier. They were having pretty good success having already caught a couple of bass. Hopefully there were still some left for the three other boats encountered later, heading towards the bay for some fishing. And speaking of fishermen, an osprey was seen briefly near the northwest end of the bay.
Arrived at my takeout location with 36 empty containers of which 23 were recylable.
YTD total = 2005

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monofilament Recycling Containers

Recently, Alanb of Bedford left a comment in which he mentioned the monofilament fishing line recycling containers placed at at some points along the river. Here is a photograph of the one located at the Great Meadows Landing in Concord. I have seen another similar container at Sherman's Bridge in Wayland.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Pantry Brook & Back

Early this morning, I launched my kayak into the Sudbury River and headed upstream through a fog that rose high above the water in places. My goal was to reach Fairhaven Bay in time to see the sunrise above Fairhaven Ridge. At several places where the treetops were lower, rays of sunlight could be seen trying to break through the fog. Arriving at the north end of the bay, I saw that others had already assembled in various locales to watch the show. Several guys fishing from canoes, one fellow kayaker, two guys fishing from the SE corner's shore, two belted kingfishers, a great blue heron or two, and a large white swan. We were all treated to the trees on Brooke Island being lit ablaze from top to bottom as the sun rose in the sky. The fog evaporated in a matter of minutes.
With the day now well established, I continued upriver to the mouth of Pantry Brook where after enjoying a snack, I began my trip downriver. As I approached Lee's Bridge, I spotted an osprey patrolling the river. I watched as he stopped about 30 feet above the water and dove straight down into the water. After the big splash, he was soon in flight again, but I did not see a fish in his talons. Downstream of Lee's Bridge, I surprised a small duck, about he size of a wood duck, that took to flight but stayed only a few inches above the water. He splashed down about 150 feet in front of me and immediately dove under the water's surface. Surfaced about a minute later and then dove again. May have been a merganser.
Crossing Fairhaven Bay, I was treated to the sight of a red bi-plane flying just above the treetops. The plane made two passes over the bay. Must have been quite a view from a plane.
By this time it was clear that this was going to be a spectacular autumn day. This was confirmed by the sight of nearly 20 kayaks heading upriver downstream of Route 2. All of this great recent weather makes me wonder about the accuracy of this recent forecast:
The only negative note (or perhaps it is a positive one) was that I was nearly skunked in regards to trash. Ended up with only one empty bottle and one plastic bag. Slim pickens.
However, as a fine autumn paddle, it could not have been surpassed. YTD Total = 1969

Friday, October 10, 2008

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Pine Street & Back

Another nice afternoon, another cloudless sky, and another trash patrol on the Assabet River. The water level has dropped about 8" since my last patrol on this river but is still high enough to allow passage over most rocks. My kayak and I were bucking the trend by heading upstream as thousands of leaf rafts were riding the current downstream.
Saw a red-tailed hawk near Willow Island.
In Concord Junction, I was able to pass by the blowdown between the commuter rail bridge and the Route 62 bridge. Shortly after that, I was paddling through where the Pine Street bridge used to be. The construction of the new bridge is beginning to progress. Several new abutments are taking shape.
Reaching the Thoreau School, I had recovered 12 empty containers from the river. After a short break, I let the current take my bow and was soon moving downriver, passing through the endless procession of leaf rafts like a battleship pushing aside birchbark canoes.
Saw two deer about a 1/4 mile downstream of Route 2 on the river left. The nearly 3/4 moon was high in the sky well before sundown.
Encountered only a few other souls on the water today. One canoe, one tamden kayak and three solo kayaks.
Arriving at my takeout location I had 14 empty containers bringing my YTD total to 1967.
Most of today's haul was not recyclable

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Concord River - Egg Rock to Balls Hill & Back

Under this afternoon's cloudless blue skies, I trash patrolled the Concord River from Egg Rock to the beaver lodge downstream of Ball's Hill and back. The trees are now showing plenty of color and the river is also carrying an assortment of red and yellow floating leaves. Water level remains high and the current remains swift.
Most of the trash recovered was only available because of the high water level. In many places I was able to paddle over the tops of the bushes that line the shore.
Wildlife observed was one blue heron, several ducks, numerous painted turtles, one belted kingfisher, and one startled doe on the shore opposite Great Meadows.
It was a bit surprising to encounter only three other boats on such a beautiful afternoon.
Arrived at my takeout location with 23 empty containers bringing my YTD total to 1953.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Weir Hill & Back

This morning I headed out early to trash patrol the Sudbury River up to Weir Hill and back. Had hoped to watch the sunrise at Fairhaven Bay, but the cloud bank moved further north than the forecasters predicted, so the sunglasses stayed in my pocket. Temperatures were a little warmer thanks to the cloud cover and there was no wind to speak of.
Early in my paddle, I heard a "good morning" and turned to see a fellow trash paddler. Dave was paddling a well outfitted Tempest 170 by Wilderness Systems and like me, he was picking up the flotsam he encountered. We joined forces for while. Saw him again further upriver near Weir Hill. His local waters are Forge Pond in Littleton/Westford, a former Nipmuc settled area.
At Heath's Bridge (Sudbury Road), a usual trash hotspot, I recovered 16 empty containers. Beer cans/bottles, bait tubs and miscellaneous plastic stuff.
At Pantry Brook, the top of the dam is only 6" above the river's level. One more good rain event might allow paddling over the dam and into the impoundment.
Wildlife observed today was mostly belted kingfishers. I did see a couple of small hawks also.
There were two boats with fishermen in Fairhaven Bay. One powered, the other a canoe.
On my trip downriver, I scooped another 4 empties bringing my total for the day to 20 and YTD total to 1930.
While I was paddling this morning, my kid sister Lissa was running her first marathon up in Portland, Maine to benefit leukemia research. Way to go, Lis!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Concord Jct. & Back

This afternoon I trash patrolled the lower Assabet River from Egg Rock to the commuter rail bridge in Concord Junction and back. It was kind of an odd paddle or at least started out that way. As I approached Egg Rock from the Sudbury River side, I saw a garter snake crossing the river. I watched as it made its way across and then emerged onto the river bank. Once it got on solid ground it seemed content to just lay there in the sun and was not bothered by my presence nearby. As I turned back out into the river's main channel, I saw another animal swimming across. It was too small to be a beaver, and wasn't a musquash. Perhaps a mink? No, it was a grey squirrel and his head was just barely above the surface. Most of his body was submerged but his tail was above the surface and in full fluffed-out form. On reaching the other side, he grabbed onto the nearest branch and and zipped up the tree to dryout, I guess. The two incidents left me wondering what the heck might be going on back on the other side that made them leave. Or perhaps, something big is scheduled for on this side.
After passing Egg Rock, I saw some trash on the river left and soon had a few plastic bottles. Something blue was floating half submerged and it turned out to be a one-gallon plastic jug filled with transmission fluid. The seal was broken, so I suspect it was someone's used fluid that somehow found its way into the river. Hopefully, it was not deliberate.
Proceeding up the river, I noted only a small piece of Dodge Rock above the surface and Willow Island is partially awash. There are several trees that have blown down over the past several weeks and the river had a gazillion leaves floating in it. Actually, I stopped counting at 700 billion.
On reaching my turnaround point at West Concord, I had accumulated a dozen empty containers. The return trip downriver was almost effortless and I added another 7 empty containers to make my total for the day at 19 and YTD = 1910.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Photos from Lake Champlain Trip

Heading through 'The Gut' between South Hero and North Hero Islands
Looking north from my campsite at N. Hero State Park at Stephenson Point, Vermont

Heading towards the Missisquoi Bay Bridge

Reaching my goal off of Metcalfe Island where the Missisquoi River enters Lake Champlain

Photos from Lake Champlain Trip

Champlain Monument where Saranac River flows into Lake Champlain at Plattsburgh, New York

Macdonough Monument in Plattsburgh, New York
Cumberland Head Lighthouse, Plattsburgh, New York