When I finished my workweek at noon today, I knew that the rain had stopped, that the air temperature was quite warm for mid-November, and despite the lack of sunshine, the conditions were just too good to pass up an afternoon trash paddle. What I didn't know was that I would experience one of the most surreal paddling trips of my life.
After launching, a little after 1 pm, I headed to Egg Rock. On the way, I encountered two red-tailed hawks sitting in the same tree. I did my best imitation of their call and one of them decided to follow me. Near Egg Rock, it flew past me and landed on the ground before rising up to a tree where it watched me go by. At the Calf Pasture, it flew about 15 feet above my right shoulder and swooped up into a tree just ahead, where it again watched me approach. It allowed me to paddle fairly close to the bottom of the tree it was in. Hopefully, the photo I took of it will adequately reveal its grandeur.
At the Old North Bridge, there were only a few folks strolling the grounds. At Hutchin's Farm there was a group of 7 turkeys being fairly bold given the proximity to their approaching 'D-Day'. By the time I reached Great Meadows Landing, I had recovered 11 pieces of trash. Some plastic bags, styrofoam floatation, soda and beer cans including an old Pabst Blue Ribbon can. Haven't seen one of those in a while. Later I would add a 1-gallon plastic water jug and another quart bottle of King Cobra.
Up to this point the water had been like glass and the air dead calm. Downstream of Great Meadows Landing, there was a fog laying on top of the river's surface. At first it rose only a foot or so above the water, but by the time I reached Saw Mill Brook, it was getting thicker. Paddling near Ball's Hill the fog began to envelop me and as the river widened, my view of either shore became blurry. I went a little downstream of the beaver lodge to where the river runs straight to Rt. 225. The fog was even thicker in that direction so I landed at the small beach across from the beaver lodge and took a short break. While sitting there, I watched the fog slowly creeping upriver and past my position. When I relaunched and began heading upriver, it was quite mystical. Through the fog everything looked strange. What at first looked like an animal would turn out to be a birch tree stump with mushrooms growing on it. I did see a bouncing white tail of a small deer at 4 pm near Huthin's Farm. Flint's Bridge looked quite eerie with the green and red signs hanging over the portals. Similar eeriness at the Old North Bridge. Just before passing under the 'Rude Arch', I encountered a 32 oz. McDonald's drink container floating down the middle of the channel. Hope it fell in rather than having been tossed in. Near the Mill Stream a blue heron emerged out of the blur and a large group of Canada geese flew over in chevron formation. Also strange was hearing the planes either landing or taking off from Hanscom airport. The clouds were hanging so low that despite the sound being quite loud, I could not see the planes as they passed overhead.
Today's musical accompaniment, perfect for such mystical conditions, was provided by the following artists:
Jim Pepper; Los Lobos; The Be Good Tanyas; Enya; Leonard Cohen; Tom Rush; James Keelaghan; Great Big Sea; The Pretenders; Bruce Springsteen; and Guy Davis.
Reached my takeout location a little after dark and had 15 empty containers bringing my YTD total to 2315.