Sunday, December 27, 2009

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Thoreau School & Back

Today's weather provided an irresistible opportunity for one more "final" 2009 trash patrol.
The temperature was 52 degrees and there was light rain falling as I launched into the lower Sudbury River at high noon. Quickly reaching Egg Rock, my boat's bow swung to the left and I began ascending the Assabet River. My hope was that the river's main channel would be open and things were looking good as I passed some of the spots that have bridged over with ice in the past. The opening photo was taken just after passing Willow Island and aside from the fog/mist, my confidence for a clear passage was increasing. However, there were many floating sheets of ice that had to be avoided and there was this one location where ice reached nearly 3/4 of the way across the channel...

After passing under Route 2, I reached the spot where the moose was encountered last October. I stopped on the river's west shore to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa and reflect upon the strange event which was, without a doubt, the highlight of my paddling year. The rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to brighten.
Once back in the boat, I made good time through West Concord, easily passed under the Pine Street bridge, and reached the sandbar behind the Thoreau School. This made a good spot to turn around and allow the south wind and steady current to convey my boat downriver. The return trip was most pleasant as the sun was winning its battle with the clouds and creating some nice effects as it backlit their retreat to the north. This was especially noted as I approached the Route 2 bridge...

Seemingly much too soon, I reached my takeout location and unloaded the day's catch onto the icy ground beside my boat's hull...

The count for the day was 34 pieces of trash. Of these, 12 were recyclable (4 redeemable) and 22 were misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, spray paint, a prescription bottle (full of pills), a basketball, etc. My final YTD total is 5593.
Before leaving the takeout site, I watched as the victorious sun sank low behind the trees. In the twilight, I loaded my car with gear and then feeling very grateful for such a bonus day, drove home into the gathering darkness.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Skipper's Year End Report

As the 2009 Trashpaddling season comes to a close and Old Man Winter tightens his icy grip, a review of my ship’s log provides the following information:

Sudbury River – 42 patrols netted 2093 pieces of trash, averaging 51 per patrol

Assabet River – 33 patrols netted 2421 pieces of trash, averaging 73.4 per patrol

Concord River – 11 patrols netted 625 pieces of trash, averaging 56.8 per patrol

Charles River - 2 patrols netted 280 pieces of trash, averaging 140 per patrol

Blackstone River – 1 patrol netted 26 pieces trash

Merrimack River – 1 patrol netted 71 pieces of trash

Over the course of the year 5532 pieces of orphaned trash were rescued from the rivers or their banks and properly disposed of.

Miscellaneous rubbish that was non-recyclable represented 44.6%
Non-redeemable but recyclable containers represented 32.6%
Redeemable and recyclable containers represented 22.8%

Patrol Vessel # 1 - OK, though propulsion system performance has deteriorated slightly

Patrol Vessel # 2 - Ditto to Vessel # 1

Very little resistance was encountered though there were several unauthorized boarding attempts by arachnids. All unauthorized boarding attempts were ultimately repelled.

The most noticeable change was the increased number of beaver lodges. Additionally, there were eye to eye encounters with deer, moose, beaver, otter, musquash, woodchucks, ospreys, eagle, hawks, kingfishers, herons, ducks, swans, geese, turtles, snakes, and the earlier mentioned arachnids.

To all my fellow trashpaddlers, readers of this blog, and supporters of my efforts…
Thanks, and may 2010 be a great year for all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Pantry Brook & Back

Since the "2009 Good Weather Farewell Tour" was held over for another day by popular demand, I had to get in one more trash patrol of the Sudbury River from Route 62 to Pantry Brook and back. It most likely will be the last time this season that Fairhaven Bay will be crossable by kayak. The shallow areas are iced over already and with another stretch of cold weather scheduled to arrive tomorrow it won't be long before the bay is frozen all the way across.
My patrol up to Fairhaven was pleasant. Temperatures were in the low 40's and there was almost no wind. Trash was recovered along the way with most being found under the MBTA commuter rail bridge. A solitary bufflehead duck was seen a little ways upstream of said bridge both on the way upriver and on the way back down.
I had planned to stop for lunch at Brooke Island but 40 feet of ice between me and the beach, changed my mind. Instead, I stopped at Lee's Bridge Landing and enjoyed a sandwich with my hot cocoa...

Continuing upriver, I encountered this small hawk at the outlet from Farrar Pond...

He allowed me to get fairly close from two different angles before he finally took flight. My guess is that he's an immature sharp-shinned hawk but it is only a guess and an uneducated one at that.
Also seen today were several groups of wood ducks, mergansers, and mallards, as well as numerous Canada geese and a pair of red-tailed hawks in Fairhaven Bay.
Upon reaching the mouth of Pantry Brook, I found about 30 feet of ice between the barrier and my boat. As I snapped this photo, I noticed a beaver swimming just beyond the sheet of ice...

Apparently, the beaver was not aware of my presence and swam under the sheet of ice towards his lodge. He surfaced about 2 feet from my cockpit and, needless to say, we both were equally startled! He then swam across the river twice before giving an emphatic tail-slap to the water's surface. I took his hint and departed from the area.
The trip downriver was quite enjoyable for mid-December. After a very brief sprinkle of rain, the sun actually started to break though the cloud cover. Near Heaths Bridge another kayaker was encountered heading in the opposite direction. I believe it was Lisa H. getting in some distance training perhaps. She was the only other person seen on the river today.
At my takeout location, the day's catch posed alongside my boat's hull...

They numbered 24 and were made up of 15 recyclables (13 redeemable) and 9 pieces of misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, spray-paint cans, etc. My YTD total stands at 5559.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Westvale & Return

As you can see from the adjacent photo, there is still some sand in the 2009 hourglass but it is starting to run out fairly fast.
This morning I launched my kayak into the lower Sudbury River and paddled downstream to the confluence with the Assabet at Egg Rock. There was a tongue of ice extending out about 30 feet from Egg Rock. Here, I began my ascent of the Assabet River and soon found myself paddling against a fairly steady current due to recent rain & snow events. Dodge Rock was mostly submerged except for what looked like an old man's white-haired head...

No trash was encountered until after passing Spencer Brook. Wildlife observed today consisted of numerous Canada geese, mallards, a few wood ducks, one merganser, one large hawk, and one small hawk (perhaps a kestrel).
About a quarter-mile below Route 2, I came upon this crude shelter...

Perhaps Les Stroud aka Survivorman was in the area recently!
Passing beneath Route 2 my trash count was nearing 30 and by the time I reached a sandbar upstream of Pine Street I needed to transload 46 pieces of trash below deck. The sandbar provided a perfect spot to enjoy a sandwich and hot cup of cocoa while basking in some mid-December sunshine.
Heading upriver from the sandbar became a little challenging due to several trees that have fallen across the river. I passed a couple of tricky spots where the river's flow was being funneled through narrow openings.
I turned around at the large rock between Westvale and Marshall's Farm...

Beyond the rock were several more fallen trees.
The trip downriver was a swift one and before long I was stopping to admire this wintry scene at Egg Rock...

The earlier sunshine had disappeared behind cloud cover.
Reaching my takeout location, the day's catch of 63 pieces of trash assembled alongside my boat's hull...

The beakdown was as follows: 30 recyclable (6 redeemable) and 33 pieces of misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, nip bottles, a beach ball, a prescription pill bottle (with a few pills still inside), and an empty can of Ortho "Weed-B-Gone". My YTD total stands at 5535 and my paddleodometer just passed 700 miles for the year.
Concerning the 25-lb propane cylinder recovered from last week's patrol of the Assabet, thanks to the Town of Acton Transfer Station, it is now residing in a fenced enclosure with about a dozen other barbecue veterans. I'm happy to report that it is the most grizzled & gruesome looking one of the bunch!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Concord River - Egg Rock to Davis Hill & Return

As evidenced by the adjacent photo, conditions were fairly nice out on the upper Concord River today. Plenty of sunshine and temperatures on the good side of the freezing point. Imagine it won't be much longer before some of these waters start becoming solid.
Today's trash patrol got off to a good start with a brief shore raid just below the Lowell Road bridge. It netted 24 empty containers, mostly beer cans.
At the Old Manse, a little snow from Saturday's storm could still be seen...

Construction at the Flint's Bridge (Monument St.) project looks to be nearing completion as crews are now working on the side fencing...

Reaching the location of my favorite cabin, a little below Saw Mill Brook, I noted curtains in the windows and a couple of canoes stored near the foundation...

Good to see it being used again as opposed to having that abandoned look which it wore for several years.
In the last mile before Davis Hill, 2 blue herons were observed faithfully manning their posts within 50 yards of each other. Apparently, they've elected to stay up north rather than fly south for the winter. Hope they don't regret it. Other wildlife seen today were Canada geese, mallards, and a red-tailed hawk.
The trip back upriver was into a near-blinding low-angle sun almost the entire way.
At my takeout location, the day's catch of 81 pieces of trash unfolded next to my kayak...

The breakdown was: 48 recyclables (28 redeemable) and 33 misc. trash such as styrofoam, fishing gear, nip bottles, and plastic bags. My YTD total stands at 5472.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Trashpaddler's December Daydream

Driving over the Route 27 overpass, I look down to the railroad tracks below and see a small local freight sitting on what’s left of the Boston & Maine (B & M) Railroad’s Marlborough Branch at South Acton Junction. The train is waiting for the dispatcher in North Billerica to activate a green signal that will allow them to pull out onto the Fitchburg Division mainline and head to the east.
About an hour earlier, I had met with this train’s conductor and filled out the requisite shipping forms so that my three carloads of river trash could be pulled out of the weed-choked siding where they had been loaded. The conductor and I were able to escape the December chill and attend to our paper shuffling business within the warm confines of the coal-stove heated caboose. Once inside the small caboose, I was surprised to see a fully functional, mobile office where railroad freight business has obviously been conducted for many years...

There was quite a bit of paperwork involved for what would amount to a fairly short trip by rail to Concord Junction where the railroad will deliver the cars to the Concord Reformatory & Redemption Center (CRRC). That is where the cars will be received and their contents unloaded for processing.
Finally, with all our paperwork in order, we stepped outside and watched as the engineer nosed his diesel -electric locomotive # 1270 slowly into the siding and up to the first of the three cars. The big knuckle at the front of the engine coupled with the one on the car and brake-system air hoses were connected. After walking to each car and releasing its hand brake, the brakeman signaled to the engineer that it was OK to start pulling. Rich black smoke rose up from the short exhaust stack on the well maintained and recently painted S-4 switch engine. This first generation diesel powered switcher had been built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in Schenectady, NY back in 1950, about 6 months before this trashpaddler issued forth. The ALCO 539 turbocharged diesel engine whined as the engineer notched up the throttle and several of the doors along the engine’s side began shaking until finally, despite some protesting squeals from stubborn wheels, the three cars began to move.
I watched as each car exited the siding. The first was a B & M boxcar just behind the engine and it contained all of the non-recyclable miscellaneous trash recovered so far this year. Miscellaneous trash such as styrofoam, plastic bags, and paper represent 44% of what I’ve removed from local rivers. This car will be “set off” at CRRC’s trash-burning incinerator where its content's combustion will help to generate electricity and heat for use within the facility.
The next car, a covered hopper, is filled with recyclable (but not redeemable) containers and represents 33% of the recovered trash. Most of these plastic and aluminum containers are identical to the more valuable redeemable containers, but, sadly, are not included in the current Massachusetts Bottle Bill. This car’s contents will be dumped into the large sorting bin for later re-processing.
Bringing up the rear, the car just ahead of the caboose, another covered hopper, is filled with the redeemable containers and represents 23% of the recovered trash. These plastic and aluminum containers will join the non-redeemable ones after redemption. This car has noticeably less wear & tear than the other two. Hopefully this will change when Massachusetts updates the Bottle Bill to reflect the changes in people’s beverage consumption that have taken place since the Bottle Bill was enacted 27 years ago.
The HDPE and PET plastic portions of the containers will be re-processed into various plastic products by the facility’s state of the art equipment. The facility is a joint public/private venture providing gainful employment for inmates, and uses the same technology once utilized by a local kayak manufacturer. Aluminum and glass containers will be sold to container manufacturers for recycle.
After finally getting their “High Ball”, the train pulled out onto the mainline and I snapped these photos, while standing trackside, of first the engine and then the caboose as they exited the Marlborough Branch…

Soon after new 2010 calendars are hanging on walls, the three, now empty, cars will make the return trip to the cold and most likely snow-covered siding where they will await being filled once again. Hopefully next year, the springs on the redeemable car will be the most compressed.
By the way, wouldn’t a Trashpaddling 2010 calendar look good on your wall? :) It can be purchased locally at Willow Books in Acton or online at this link.
Any funds remaining after printing & handling costs will be used towards the purchase of miscellaneous trashpaddling supplies such as gloves, trash bags, dry bags, etc.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Not an Artifact - The Quest Resumes

Back in September, at a time of low water levels on the Assabet River, I found what I thought and hoped was a piece of hand-worked stone. The find was described here.
Yesterday, my presumed artifact and I traveled by train into Boston where we attended a meeting of the Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources. Following Commonwealth of Massachusetts policy, I had submitted an application for an Isolated Find Exemption. As stated on the application form "Artifacts recovered from state lands (submerged bottom lands, wetlands, and uplands) are state property. It is a violation of state law to surface collect or excavate without having proper authorization. The only exceptions are for surface collection of Isolated Finds and at Exempted Sites. The list of Exempted Sites is available from the Board. An Isolated Find is an artifact displaced from its original archaeological context through erosion, water currents or other natural processes. Determining a resource to be an Isolated Find rests exclusively with the Board."
After the board dealt with some interesting shipwrecks along the Massachusetts coast, it was time for my presumed artifact to be examined. Each board member examined it and after a brief discussion, the senior archaeologist concluded that my piece of slate was natural stone and did not show evidence of having been hand-worked. He felt the one-sided edge was from a natural break in the slate.
Therefore, no action was required as to my application and my once presumed artifact and I returned home by train. The hand-cuffed attache case was no longer required.
Though disappointed, I appreciate the Board taking the time to examine my find and I found it very interesting to learn more about how underwater archaeological finds are handled.
My quest for finding a piece of hand-worked stone, which I thought was over, is now back on. Onward, into the past!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers

It certainly was a pleasant day for a trash patrol on the lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers. Especially considering what month we've just begun and how the weather could take a turn for the worse any day now!
I launched into the lower Sudbury River and began paddling downstream to Egg Rock. Enroute, I encountered a red-tailed hawk near the Concord DPW yard. A little further downstream, where the Boston & Maine RR (Reformatory Branch) used to cross the river, was enough trash to justify a short raid onshore. Trash there included an empty sword sheath, really large vitamin container, empty beer/soda cans, and plastic bags. A good little haul of 19 to start the patrol on the right paddle. Reaching Egg Rock, I decided to ascend the Assabet River as water levels were ideal. Quite a bit of trash in the first mile or so including a tidy little bag with 6 Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. Not a brand I see very often. For some reason, I associate that beer with the late 1960s. Do they still advertise it?
A little before Dodge Rock, beavers have been very busy and a new lodge is under construction. Once again, a beaver has a tree ready to fall but it is still being held up by the limb of an adjacent tree. If the beaver isn't careful, the next bite could result in a serious injury or worse.
Large groups of Canada geese were encountered both on and off the water. Some mallards were mixed in with them. This seems to be their winter pattern. Blue jays, chipmunks, and squirrels were also fairly busy today.
Arriving at the mouth of Nashoba Brook, 87 pieces of recovered trash were onboard. It was then, I saw a white propane cylinder, typical of barbecue grills, stuck against some brambles. I moved it up to the river bank and after some hemming and hawing, decided there was no better time than the present to deal with it and sat the tank upright in the boat's rear hatchway.
Now with a good load onboard, my bow was allowed to be turned by the current and soon I was passing downriver under a somewhat backlit Route 2 overpass. The picture I took here is the opening shot of this post. Added a few more pieces of trash on the way back and arrived at my takeout location with 93 pieces. Took this photo of the gang as they lined up for inspection...

Of the 93, 40 were recyclable (14 redeemable) and 53 were misc. rubbish. My YTD count stands at 5391.
Does anyone know of how I can properly dispose of an empty propane tank?
Additional photos of today's patrol can be seen at this link.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sudbury River - Route 62 to Weir Hill & Return

Yesterday's big blow finally calmed down enough overnight to allow an early morning trash patrol on the Sudbury River from Route 62 up to Weir Hill and back. After launching into the river's relatively calm waters, I began heading upstream. Almost immediately I heard the approach of the morning's first train to Boston and turned around in time to watch it pass over the river. Train 2402 was on a schedule to reach North Station at 8:15, whereas I, running on the river as an "Unscheduled Extra", would reach Weir Hill at about 10:15 or so.
The first trash encountered was just before reaching the Route 2 overpass on the river's east bank, below the highway. Several cans, a couple of bags and a 18 foot-long piece of facia board 6" wide by 1/4" thick. Fortunately, it broke easily into many small pieces which fit into my kayak's aft storage compartment.
The Heaths Bridge area was good for a few cans and bottles but was cleaner than usual.
Reaching Fairhaven Bay, I found its water's being fished by a pair of two-man boats.
The bay's Brooke Island had a beer can gleaming in the sun on its small beach. The can was just beyond the reach of my out-stretched paddle blade thus requiring a short foray onshore. Once on the island, I found 7 more cans strewn around the burned out stump of a white pine. Seeing the remains of the tree's trunk lying on the ground nearby reminded me of the "Project Mishoon" website and its link to an account of the dugout canoe recovered from Great Pond in Weymouth back in 1965. That dugout was said to have been made from an eastern white pine measuring 10 feet in diameter and estimated to have been between 150 and 200 feet tall. It was radiocarbon dated to around 1505.
Heading upriver from the bay, I noticed that a breeze was building out of the west/southwest, however it was nothing like yesterday's wild gusts!
Nearing the mouth of Pantry Brook, the sound of water falling could be heard. Paddling up to the sheet-piling structure I found the water being held back was at a level about even with my head. The structure itself is now a man/beaver hybrid with a truly unique look!
At Weir Hill I cut the power and drifted into shore where a short hot-cocoa break was enjoyed. Temperatures were warming nicely and soon I was on my way back downriver.
Wildlife seen today were mallards, Canada geese, a solitary blue heron, and a pair of red-tailed hawks. Beavers were not seen today but evidence of their recent work was abundant.
Arrived at my takeout location with 27 pieces of trash. Here they are on solid ground again...

Of the 27, 18 were recyclable (16 redeemable) and 9 were misc. rubbish such as the facia board and plastic bags, and styrofoam. My YTD total stands at 5298.
More pictures from today's patrol can be seen here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mishoonash in Quinsigamond

Deep into Nipmuc Country lies a four-mile long body of water called Quinsigamond. The name is said to mean "long-nose (pickerel) fishing place". The water leaving Quinsigamond flows into a river called Khetetuk (aka Blackstone) and ultimately down to Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island.
Back in 2000 a recreational SCUBA diver discovered a mishoon or dugout canoe lying on the bottom of what is today called Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Massachusetts. The mishoon was in about 30 feet of water and appeared to have been filled with stones to ensure that it remained on the bottom. Since then two more mishoonash have been found in the same general area. One was radiocarbon dated to approximately 1640.
Project Mishoon is a joint project between the Nipmuc Nation and the Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources to manage and preserve the three mishoonash. To find out more visit their website here. Good reading for a day much too windy to be out on the water!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sad News Concerning the Moose on the Loose

As many of you may have heard via recent news reports, a car collided with a moose on Route 3 in Billerica, near where it crosses over the Concord River, early yesterday morning. The woman driving the car survived with minor injuries however the moose was killed and the car looks to be totaled.
Chris commented that he noted similarities in news photographs of the dead moose and those posted here on October 11th. The news photographs he found can be seen here.
I agree with his conclusion that it, most likely, is the same moose encountered 6 weeks ago in Concord. It amazes me that a moose wandered about the area for more than a month yet apparently was seen by relatively few people. Here is a photo of the young fellow in better days...

Note that the photo can be enlarged in two stages. Click one time for stage one and then click again for stage two.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Assabet River - Cox St. to Gleasondale Dam & Back

It was certainly an unexpected luxury to have two beautiful days on a weekend in mid-November. On Saturday, Mrs. Trashpaddler and I traversed the recently opened Bruce Freeman Rail Trail for the first time. It is a very nice trail indeed! When we reached Chelmsford Center we viewed the wall murals and noticed one of the murals depicts Middlesex Village as it looked during its days as a Middlesex Canal terminus. It shows the three locks the Thoreau brothers passed through to enter the Merrimack River.
Today was the bonus day and conditions early this morning were ideal for a trash patrol on the Assabet River in Hudson and Stow. Once again, I launched at Cox Street and headed downriver. A beaver led the way for the first half mile. He may have been heading back to his lodge after having worked the night shift.
My objective was to cleanup the trash collected behind several snags where the river makes it curve to the west. Passing by the shooting range, all was silent and upon reaching the first snag, my work got underway. A red-tailed hawk watched me "like a hawk" from his nearby perch on a pine tree bough. Shortly, after two transloadings, I had more than 150 pieces of trash onboard. I then passed under one fallen tree and slid across another in order to reach Gleasondale and the dam. Before reaching the village, I watched 4 red-tailed hawks soaring together as they rode the updrafts.
Once in Gleasondale, I looked around the area upstream of the dam trying to envision just how one might conduct a portage and didn't see anything that looked reasonable (short of passing through someone's yard).
I then turned around and began the trip back upriver. It sounded like the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" as I passed by the shooting range! A belted kingfisher flew ahead for a short while. Arrived back at Cox Street with a sizeable load. The count for the day was 218 pieces of trash. Unfortunately, the earlier sunshine was gone and the rescued refugees were denied their moment in the sun...

Of the 218 pieces of trash, 88 were recyclabe (24 redeemable) and 130 were misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, cans of spray paint, a baseball bat and an eight-foot fluorescent light bulb. My YTD total stands at 5271.
More pictures from today's patrol can be viewed at this link.
The before and after photos were taken at the same spot as the cover photo for my Trashpaddling 2010 calendar which, by the way, is available for purchase at Willow Books an Acton.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Assabet River - Cox St. to Forest Ave. & Return

Late this morning I returned to the Cox Street boat launch in Hudson to follow-up on last Sunday's rather prolific trash patrol. After launching into the Assabet River, I noticed that the water level had dropped about 6 inches in the ensuing 3 days, thus allowing me passage under the bridge and upriver. Trash on the upstream side of Cox Street was just as abundant as it had been below the bridge. After passing under the newly completed Main Street (Rt. 62) bridge, I stopped to transload trash below deck. The trash continued steady until I reached my turnaround point at Forest Ave. The trip downriver was nearly effortless as the current was running fairly strong. The sun was behind me providing good lighting for some photos. The electric generating station's cooling tower doesn't look to be in use these days...

In fact, it appears that this facility performs a distribution function rather than actual generation of electricity. An oil pipeline crosses above the river as it connects the station with two large above-ground oil storage tanks. Perhaps this equipment is in a mothballed state.
At Main Street, the old wooden railroad trestle of the B & M's abandoned Marlborough branch has finally been removed...

The result is a much more open river with less obstructions for tree branches to get snagged on.
However, the old wooden railroad trestle of the B & M's abandoned Central Mass. branch remains just downstream of the Main Street bridge...

Soon, I found myself back at Cox Street and the day's catch was unloaded from my ship's hold...

The count for the day was 181 pieces of trash (in just a little more than a mile of river). It broke down as follows: 108 recyclable (24 redeemable) and 73 misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, etc. My YTD total stands at 5053.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Assabet River - Cox St. Hudson to Orchard Hill in Stow

Knowing that the year is approaching its end and my year to date total is nearing the 5k mark, I decided to play a hunch as to where the most trash might be found. I launched into the rain-swollen Assabet River just downstream of Cox Street in Hudson and immediately struck trash paydirt or perhaps I should say paywater. Soon 47 pieces were onboard and I was still within a stone's throw of the launch,so I paddled back to the launch and placed the first 47 in my car's trunk.
Then, with an empty boat, I proceeded downriver and the trash continued to pile up at an unprecedented rate. It would pile-up on deck, then be moved into the dry-bag, then pile-up on deck again. Transloading soon had both the aft and foreward storage compartments full and the process would start all over again.
Reaching the sharp left turn where the river begins to wind around Orchard Hill in Stow, I came upon the view of trash pictured in the opening photograph.
That became my turnaround point as my boat was loaded to the gills. Heading back upriver I viewed Orchard Hill during a brief splash of sunshine...

The biggest piece of trash today was this beach ball...

My knife soon cut it down to size.
A surprising amount of wildlife was seen today despite the steady volleys of gunfire emanating from the Riverside Gun Club's nearby shooting range. Red-winged blackbirds, a belted kingfisher, numerous bluejays, a small woodpecker (downy or hairy), several yellow-shafted flickers, mallards, a pair of either buffleheads or perhaps common goldeneye, a few hardy turtles, and a red-tailed hawk.
I arrived back at Cox Street with 180 pieces of trash which, when combined with the 47 in my trunk, resulted in a total count for the day of 227. Quite a count for less than a mile run of river! The pile of disgorged trash posed next to my boat...

Of the 227, 126 were recyclable (51 redeemable) and 101 were miscellaneous rubbish such as nip bottles, coffee cups, styrofoam chunks, plastic bags, beach balls etc.
My YTD total stands at 4872. I left knowing that there remains ample trash for another patrol of this stretch of river. Because of yesterday's heavy rainfall the Assabet was really chugging along and a considerable amount of trash was on the move! A very dynamic situation to see unfolding before my eyes!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mashantucket Pequot Museum

A well-manned Pequot dugout canoe as it may have appeared about 400 hundred years ago on the tidal waters of southeastern Connecticut.
This morning's steady rain and wind would qualify this as a perfect day to visit a museum and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is one of the best museums I have seen in regards to depicting life in New England before the arrival of the Europeans. Visitors entering the museum will pass by two replicas of large dugout canoes and the people that may have paddled them, as they proceed towards the exhibits. I was captivated by the degree of realism and could easily imagine myself encoutering either craft emerging out of foggy coastal waters!
Other, smaller dugout canoe replicas are seen in the 16th-Century Pequot Village exhibit which offers the closest thing to time-travel currently available. You will find yourself actually walking within a Pequot village.
Also on display at the Museum are the remains of a real dugout canoe recovered from the muddy bottom of a nearby pond.
Checkout the Museum's website at this link.
It's the other reason to visit Foxwoods.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sudbury River - S. Bridge to Lee's Bridge and Back

I believe it was Mr. Curley Howard who when asked by his brother Moe, "Since when have you had a weak back?" replied, "Oh, since about a week back!" Curley could have been describing my situation exactly. So, despite a little lingering soreness under my right shoulder, I couldn't resist a chance to get out on the water under today's clear blue skies and enjoy some real "Indian Summer" conditions.
I launched at 7am and began heading upriver as the sun steadily climbed above the treetops to my left. At Heaths Bridge, a brief shore raid produced about 10 pieces of fairly old looking trash that was, up until recently, hidden under geenery.
Fairhaven Bay belonged to two guys fishing from a canoe and myself. Paddling slowly along the east shore of Brooke Island produced another 4 old beer cans. One was a Carling Black Label can made in Canada rather than the local plant that once stood near the shore of Lake Cochituate in Natick.
After reaching Lee's Bridge, I turned around and began the trip downriver. Encountered a guy fishing from a 'sit-on-top' boat made by Ocean Kayak. Looked like a pretty good setup to fish from.
Wildlife observed on the trip up to Lee's Bridge included numerous mallards, Canada geese, belted kingfishers, and blue herons. The downriver trip allowed me the privilege of watching an osprey make 4 plunges into the waters of Fairhaven Bay. Each plunge had him in the water for 3 or 4 seconds. After the fourth plunge he flew to a tree in the bay's sw corner from which he took flight just as I snapped this photo...

Two red-tailed hawks patrolled the skies over the ne corner of the bay and some white gulls with black wingtips were seen to the north of Brooke Island.
The painter of today's Fairhaven Bay backdrop worked from a palette of blues, greens, and browns...

An eastern bluebird was seen near Heaths Bridge with a group of other small birds, perhaps other bluebirds.
'Dixit et Fecit' was in my thoughts today as he battles against a recent onslaught of illness. Like Beowulf, he'll be triumphant! Actually, they may have known each other as kids growing up in Waltham.
At my takeout location, the day's small catch posed in the sun...

The count was 22 pieces of trash. Of these 9 were recyclable (8 redeemable) and 13 were misc. rubbish such as styrofoam bait tubs and plastic bags. My YTD total stands at 4645.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Trashy Calendar for 2010

Looking for a 2010 calendar, but haven't seen one trashy enough? Perhaps this one will suffice
The Trashpaddler will receive $ 2.00 for each one that sells. Any funds realized will be used for miscellaneous trashpaddling supplies such as gloves, trash bags, dry-bags, etc.

Heard Pond - Brief Terrestrial Patrol

I've never had a reason to drive down Pelham Island Road, until today, when curiosity to see Heard Pond got the better of me. Soon, I was driving along the pond's north shore until noticing a promontory that promised a good vantage point. Conveniently, just across the road was a Great Meadows Refuge trailhead and parking spot. I walked the short distance to the promontory and enjoyed a commanding view of the pond. Early European settlers noted that large numbers of Native Americans gathered each spring along the pond's shore to hunt the abundant migrating birds. The trail allowed me to descend to the water's edge where there is a nice bench. I noticed that someone had secured a trash bag to one of the bench legs possibly to provide litterbugs with a better option. While there was some trash in the bag, sadly there were coffee cups, beer cans, bait tubs and plastic bags on the ground. By the time I left the area 14 pieces of trash were getting a ride in my trunk. Here they are at the divvying-up spot...

The small haul consisted of 7 recyclables (5 redeemable) and 7 misc. rubbish such as coffee cups candy wrappers, plastic bags etc. My YTD total stands at 4623.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sudbury River - River Rd. to Power Lines & Back

On a day that, appropriately, had both the look and feel of November, I trash patrolled the Sudbury River from River Road in Wayland up to the power lines and back. The highlight of today's trip was pausing near Indian Point to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa. Hot cocoa fits nicely with the other indications of the season that is now upon us: early sunsets, the smell of woodstoves burning and leafless trees seen against a steel grey sky. It reminds me to download Gordon Lightfoot's song Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald before my next patrol. That is the ultimate song for November in my opinion.
At Route 20, it was good to see that the temporary bridge has been removed and the newly built span is carrying traffic in both directions. Work continues at the bridge approaches where sheet piling is being installed. Hearing protection is required on this jobsite!
Trash recovered today was mostly old looking stuff that has probably been in the bushes for quite a while.
Wildlife seen today were a blue heron, cormorants, mallards & wood ducks, Canada geese, and this solitary mute swan that may have lost its mate...

There are at least four active beaver lodges in this stretch of river which amounts to about one lodge per mile.
Once back at River Road, this hodgepodge of trash disembarked and assembled in a 'Table Top' pie delivery rack...

The count was 39 pieces and broke down as follows: 20 recyclable (9 redeemable) and 19 pieces of misc. rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam, spray polish, and an empty plastic gasoline container. My YTD total stands at 4609.
A duck hunter was launching into the river as I was getting out. He and his small skiff were well camouflaged. Ducks be wary!