Hearing the weather forecast for artic conditions later this week, prompted me to squeeze in a paddle/trash patrol this afternoon, while conditions were relatively hospitable.
Just as last week, getting to open water proved a bit of a challenge. However, once that challenge was overcome, I found myself happily gliding along a glass smooth river through a New England winterscape. The scenery could be summed-up as ice (in numerous formations), snow covered ground, still some snow covered trees from Saturday's storm, cloudy skies, and air temperatures just above the freezing point. The theme of the day was "winter is tightening its icy grip" and like it or not, it may be time to retreat to the warmth of my cave till the 'January Thaw' arrives.
Heading downriver, I passed under the 'Old North Bridge' and noted not a soul in the area which, in my experience, is fairly unusual. Flint's Bridge or Monument Street is still closed to traffic, though no construction work was occurring. A little ways past this bridge, I encountered a lone common merganser. She was working her way upriver with an eye-catching motion of jutting her neck forward and back while paddling with her feet. Occasionally she would disappear beneath the river's surface in search of fish. Once she became aware of my presence, she flew a short distance away.
Continuing downriver, I saw a few cross-country skiers at Great Meadows and noted another in an orchard as I looked up towards Punkatasset Hill. Saw a pair of wood ducks just before passing Saw Mill Brook. After the abandoned cabin the river turns sharply to the southeast, past a well iced-in backwater, then northeast to round Ball's Hill. Before reaching Ball's Hill however, I encountered the end of open water. The river's steady current was being swallowed under the jagged ice and this became my turnaround point for this trip.
After a quick re-fueling, I began my trip back upriver. Aside from several grey squirrels and the aforementioned common merganser who was re-encountered near the North Bridge, I saw only two people enjoying the North Bridge area.
Reaching Egg Rock, I decided to see if the Assabet was open water through the 'Leaning Hemlocks'. It was and the hemlock's boughs were still cradling the recent snow. Would have been a nice photo had I remembered to bring a camera.
Turned around one more time and paddled around the tongue of ice sticking out from Egg Rock and headed to my takeout location. As a trash patrol, today was a bust! Any trash there may have been was locked in or under the near shore ice. My YTD total remains at 7.