Monday, June 29, 2009

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

Spent the middle part of today trash patrolling the Sudbury River from the South Bridge to Lee's Bridge under yet another moody sky. The air was fairly humid and when the sun would peek out for a minute or two it would start to feel almost sultry (like maybe it was summertime or something).
Providing a dash of color to the many shades of green were these goldfinches...

Martha's Point also chipped in with some yellow and purple flowers...

Other wildlife seen today were red-winged blackbirds, blue herons, Canada geese, mallards, easter kingbirds, tree swallows, and painted turtles.
At Lee's Bridge, the smaller portal proved a close shave. Almost had to take my hat off!...

Turned around after passing under Rt 117 and, for variety's sake, headed through the larger portal to start my downstream leg.
Trash today was fairly light. Heath's Bridge contributed the most and, as usual, it was left by shore fishermen. One item was a cardboard container of "Pollo Campero" which listed several Central American countries on the label.
Brooke Island had an empty Arizona Iced Tea container placed prominently on the beach. Perhaps it was an 'offering'?
I arrived at my takeout location with 26 pieces of trash. Of these 9 were recyclable (5 redeemable) and 17 were misc. rubbish such as styrofoam containers, plastic bags, bait tubs, etc....

My YTD total stands at 2499.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sudbury River - Rt. 27 to Heard Pond Outlet & Back

Some rare sunshine greeted those that got out on the river today. The launch at River Road was the busiest I've ever seen it. We all had heard that a brief window of nice weather was there for the taking. Once on the river, I headed upstream and soon started finding trash in the area of the Route 20 bridge project. The contractors have made good progress and it was good to see this rugged workboat standing at the ready...

After passing under the old Central Mass Railroad trestle, I scanned the western sky for building clouds and took in this view of Nobscot Hill...

As I approached the point where the river takes a hard right and a trail comes down from river left, numerous Heineken beer bottles, Slim Jim containers, and 'D' cell batteries were recovered. The area behind Wayland High School was free of trash and aside from one plastic bottle at Indian Point, there wasn't any additional trash until I had passed the outlet for Heard Pond and rounded up five more.
Shortly after turning around, I paddled through this shady grove...

At Indian Point two kings were in a minor dust up. An eastern kingbird and a belted kingfisher didn't seem to want to get along. However, just a little further downriver this pair seemed to be enjoying each other's company as well as the great view they had...

I believe it's a green-backed heron on the upper perch and a cormorant on the lower branch.

Enjoyed listening to an old Cream tune today and appreciated the lyrics as I had never before..."Tales Of Brave Ulysses"

by Eric Clapton and Martin Sharp

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever,
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun.

And the colors of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids,
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses:
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips.

And you see a girl's brown body dancing through the turquoise,
And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea.
And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body,
Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind.

The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter.

Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell,
And you know you cannot leave her for you touched the distant sands
With tales of brave Ulysses; how his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing.

The tiny purple fishes run lauging through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter.

Also in my thoughts today was good-hearted uncle that passed away yesterday. May he have safe passage to the next stop in his journey.

Arrived back at my takeout location with 42 pieces of trash. Of these, 24 were recyclable (17 redeemable) and 18 were misc. rubbish such as a mylar balloon, plastic bags, plastic gloves, and styrofoam fast food containers. The group assembled for this photo...

My YTD total stands at 2473.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Link to Article on Nomadic Lifestyle of Native Peoples

I enjoyed reading this article by Xavier Kataquapit entitled "First Nation People are Nomads at Heart". Perhaps you will as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers

Rather than grow old and grey waiting for the sun to come out, I went ahead and trash patrolled the lower Sudbury River and the Assabet to Nashoba Brook in today's cloudy/drizzly conditions. It was actually kind of nice out there on the water and I saw not another soul.
After launching into the Sudbury River, I paddled the final mile down to Egg Rock and recovered 29 pieces of trash. Nearly all of it was from the area where the Reformatory Branch of the B & M Railroad once crossed the Sudbury. The source appeared to be shore fishermen based upon the bait containers, etc.
At Egg Rock I began ascending the Assabet River which, thanks to recent rains, is back to its full width and depth. Trash was slow at first but began picking up as I neared Route 2. Just before the bridge, I recovered a plastic cooler and 8 plastic bottles at one snag. I landed on the river's east side and rearranged the 67 pieces of trash now onboard. Just a little further upriver from the bridge I headed into a backwater to retrieve a bottle and came upon a doe and her very recently born fawn. The fawn, with its large white spots, is hard to see as it follows its mother into the brush...

Picked up another 15 pieces of trash between Route 2 and Nashoba Brook where I turned around.
Heading downriver I encountered this Muscovy duck...

A wood duck has it all over this guy in the looks department!
Nearing the Leaning Hemlocks, I picked up my belted kingfisher escort for the stretch to Egg Rock. I reached my takeout site on the Sudbury with a trash count of 91. Of these 56 were recyclable (44 redeemable) and 35 were miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, monofilament fishing line etc. As they assembled for a photo, the sun made a very brief appearance (but apparently disappeared before I clicked the shutter)...

My YTD total stands at 2431.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SuAsCo to Casco and Paddling to Pedaling

Mrs. Trashpaddler had to be pleased, for what was supposed to be a Saturday of paddling the waters of Casco Bay somehow became a day of pedaling the scenic roadways of Peaks Island. The paddling events were the Race Round Peaks Island and the Race to Outer Green, events I've greatly enjoyed participating in the past and had been looking forward to this year. Then two days before the event, the event's organizers decided to cancel both as weather forecasters were predicting a good ole nor'easter. That left us with two options: stay home and lose the cost for the room we had reserved or 'play the hand dealt us' and head up to Casco Bay.
Two and a half hours later, while a steady rain fell outside, we were browsing the shelves in South Portland's Nonesuch Books before heading to the dock and the ferry to Peaks. I hit paydirt when I found The Wildest Country, Exploring Thoreau's Maine by J. Parker Huber and published by Appalachian Mountain Club Books. The book is a second edition of a book first published in 1981 and the author includes the following introduction: "This book is an invitation. It invites you to gain an appreciation of yourself, Maine, and Thoreau. It invites you to follow Thoreau's travels on foot and by canoe. It invites you to see the North Woods through the eyes of Thoreau, who, in my opinion, is still that region's interpreter extraordinary, and it asks you to compare and contrast his perceptions with yours. It invites your additions and criticisms. It invites itself to be part of your journey, to be read as you go along. It invites you to be stimulated by this world. Lastly, it invites you to conserve and cherish the land and wildlife. Though the country has changed since the mid-nineteenth century, its character remains the same for you as it did for Thoreau. It is still a frontier for the mind, heart, and spirit."
That invitation along with glimpses of fantastic photographs and maps had me leaving the bookstore quite content that I'd found a good read.
After a short ferry boat trip from Maine's largest city to one of its many islands, we were hunkered down in our room for the impending storm.
The next day we awoke to find a brightening sky and rapidly drying conditions. Quickly, we grabbed some coffee and jumped on our bikes in hopes of getting in a ride round the island before the weather could take a turn for the worse. Instead, we enjoyed a great day of bicycling all around the island that the Indians called Utowna, which is said to mean "rocky place". It doesn't get much better than pedaling along Seashore Ave while looking out over the wildroses, rocks, breaking waves and bobbing ducks, to the outer islands of Casco Bay. Late in the afternoon we witnessed the Portland Fireboat demonstrating its water cannon capabilities as part of the Peaks Island community's PeakFest celebration...

Each time I visit Casco Bay it occurs to me how similar it is to Boston Harbor and my hope is to someday see Boston's islands provide visitors similar accomodations.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sudbury River - Rt. 27 to Pantry Brook Falls & Back

Today, after launching at River Road in Sudbury, I paddled downstream following the river's channel as it zigged and zagged through a sea of grass. Both weather conditions and water levels were ideal. Wildlife was pretty much the same gang as usual: red-winged blackbirds, a pair of wood ducks, several mallards, great blue herons, eastern kingbirds, tree swallows, painted turtles, a cormorant, a belted kingfisher, and a turkey vulture.
Approaching Shermans Bridge, I heard what always sounds like the rumble of thunder and causes me to instictively look skyward for approaching thunderheads. The thunder like sound occurs each time an automobile rumbles across the wooden bridge and is heard long before a paddler can actually see it...

Shortly, I passed under the old structure but not before catching a pleasant whiff of the creosote with which the wood is saturated.
After rounding the base of Weir Hill, I began hearing the sound of cascading water and soon pulled up the base of Pantry Brook Falls...

While it's certainly no Niagara, it still made a nice spot to stop for lunch!
The trip back upriver was into a nice breeze out of the south and it wasn't long before my boat and I were back at our starting point. Trash today had been paltry. In fact, if I walked into the Crow's Nest up in Gloucester, I'm sure that Quentin, the old timer sitting at the bar, would remind me, just as he reminded the crew of the Andrea Gail, that "it wasn't exactly a slammer!"
The count was 12 for the day. There were only 4 from the river and another 8 from the River Road launch site. Ten were recyclable (2 redeemable) and 2 were rubbish. Dunkin Donuts was well represented. Until today, I had no idea that they were the 'Official' ice coffee of the Boston Red Sox! Imagine that!...

YTD total stands at 2340.

Monday, June 15, 2009

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

As I sat in my boat having a snack, under the smaller of two portals at Lee's Bridge and looked downriver, the sky began to brighten. The trip upriver to this point had been in a gentle but steady rain and, for the most part, I had the river to myself. Others seen working the river today were tree swallows with their blue iridescent backs flashing as they performed their aerial acrobatics, eastern kingbirds displaying their unique hovering skills, a few musquashes swimming here and there, and, as usual, the stoic blue herons keeping sentry. Red-winged blackbirds were present but didn't do too much flying while the rain was falling. At the far end of Fairhaven Bay two gentlemen sat in lawn chairs under the trees while they fished. They, like me, weren't going to let a little rain keep them indoors!
Today's view across Fairhaven Bay...

Both sides of the river were decorated with floating water lilies such as this one...

Trash started with a Coors Light can followed by an empty styrofoam cup proudly touting its ability to 'Keep America Runnin'. Next was an empty 32-ounce plastic bottle of Gatorade Fierce that referred to itself as 'Bring It'. Whoever drank it was probably too charged-up to properly dispose of the container before they began 'Bringing It'!
At Heath's Bridge, I came upon the usual bounty and the rescued orphans briefly posed on the beach before going below deck...

Included in today's haul were several large clumps of monofilament fishing line, bait tubs, beer/soda/water/coffee containers and plastic bags. All the fixins for a nice day of shore fishing! The gang of 41 pictured here would later be joined by another dozen or so which resulted in 53 pieces of trash for the day. Of these, 37 were recyclable (29 redeemable) and 16 were misc. rubbish consisting of the fishing line, styrofoam, plastic bags, etc. My YTD total stands at 2328.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sudbury River - Little Farms to Indian Pt. & Return

I don't think I could have found a more idyllic setting for a trash patrol lunch break than what I found at Indian Point, just a little after noon today.
Having launched at Little Farms Road in Framingham, I'd drifted down past the old Stone Bridge...

Just upstream of the bridge, where the portals are blocked by branches etc., I recovered the first 6 pieces of trash. A little ways downstream of the same bridge, a fairly new canoe paddle was found floating behind a snag in mid-channel.
Soon, I had paddled downriver sufficiently to leave behind the sound of Saturday morning lawnmowers and came upon this great blue heron with his mouth slightly open. Perhaps it's his method for staying cool?...

Not too far from the heron was this small turtle that seemed indifferent to my presence...

In addition to the heron and turtle, other wildlife encountered today were cardinals, mallards, red-winged blackbirds, and a belted kingfisher that was being harrassed by red-winged blackbirds at Indian Point.
Six other kayakers were also encountered on the water today. Some may have been participating in RiverFest activities. Organizers of that event could not have asked for better conditions.
This was the view heading back upriver...

Once back at Little Farms Road, I went about sorting my trash while a US Postal employee, utilyzed the peaceful locale to sort the mail in his truck. It reminded me of the Seinfeld tv show's Frank Costanza invoking his "Serenity Now!". He would have found it, had he been here today.
My trash count for the day was 45. Of these, 23 were recyclable (7 redeemable) and 22 were rubbish consisting of 5 spray paint cans, plastic bags, styrofoam, etc...

My YTD total stands at 2276.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

RiverFest 2009 to Celebrate Wild & Scenic Status

According to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers website, the United States has 3,500,000 miles of rivers and, of those, only slightly more than one quarter of one percent (11,434 miles) are designated as Wild & Scenic. We, who live in the SuAsCo basin are very fortunate to have 29 miles of our local rivers so designated and thereby protected for future generations.
This upcoming Saturday, June 13th and Sunday, June 14th, the Sudbury, Assabet, & Concord Wild & Scenic River Stewardship Council will present the 8th Annual RiverFest. RiverFest is a weekend of celebration on and around the rivers. All events are free and open to the public. For more details on their wide variety of programs visit this link
Every river should be so appreciated!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lower Sudbury & Assabet to Rt. 2 and Back

Late this morning, under a rapidly improving June sky, I launched into the Sudbury River and paddled downriver to Egg Rock. I found that the 'ghost ship' was slowly migrating upriver and still not secured to anything...

While it's not the most attractive boat, it still floats and appears to be seaworthy.
At the Calf Pasture, a brief shore raid was conducted to cleanup after some shore fishermen. I then relaunched and headed upriver on the Assabet. Water levels are the lowest they've been in quite a while. In fact, most of the river bottom is visible thus leaving the Assabet with few secrets. I spent a good deal of time poking around recently eroded areas of riverbank in my continuing quest for hand-tooled pieces of stone. In that regard I had no luck, but I did manage to find a machine tooled piece of cast iron from the distant past. I believe it is a piece of a railroad car coupling device from the late 1800's or early 1900's. Here are two views of it...

It was found below the old Reformatory Branch railroad grade just downriver from a long gone bridge over the Assabet. This rail line was built in 1879 and shut down in 1927. Harold I. Judkins wrote an article about his memories of the Reformatory Branch in which he mentioned coal being brought to the prison twice each month in 20 four-wheel link and pin dump cars. The article appeared in the B & M Bulletin Spring 1980 edition and was titled I Remember Reformatory Station. Perhaps this coupling device came from one of those coal cars?
Trash was mostly old stuff recently exposed due to falling water levels. Plastic bags and more glass bottles than usual. Biggest bottle was a half-gallon Jack Daniels jug and the smallest was a medicine-sized bottle labeled Grand Union Tea Company.
Wildlife observed were mallards, Canada geese, moscovy ducks, and a hairy-legged spider the size of my hand. This guy could walk on water, quite fast, too! Numerous songbirds, pleasantly, made their presence known as well.
A little ways past Route 2, I turned around and headed back downriver to Egg Rock then up the Sudbury River to my takeout location.
My trash count for the day was 54 pieces and they assembled on the beach for this group photo...

Of the 54, 18 were recyclable (9 redeemable) and 36 were misc. rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam, monofilament fishing line, etc. YTD total stands at 2231.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sudbury River - S. Bridge to Pantry Brook & Back

With hopes of combining both moonlite and a sunrise into a Sunday morning trash patrol, I launched a little before dawn into the Sudbury River and began heading upriver. The nearly full moon had either retired early or was hiding behind cloud cover in the western sky. The anticipated sunrise would follow-suit after providing just this little tease, photographed downstream of Heath's Bridge.
The trash at Heath's Bridge wasn't bad today. All but one piece was old stuff recently exposed by a further drop in water level. I left the bridge area with an even dozen.
I arrived at Fairhaven Bay to find not another soul except a deer foraging on the eastern shore. Between here and Lee's Bridge I would see 3 more deer including this young one...

Even though the nearly full moon was concealed by clouds, it still seemed to live up to its reputation in regards to increased wildlife activity.
Upstream of Lee's Bridge I watched as a red-tailed hawk maintained a regal perch, at the top of a pine, despite the small black bird that continuously flitted annoyingly about his head.
Near the mouth of Pantry Brook I noticed a beaver on the top of his lodge. When he disappeared from view, I thought he had seen me. However, he swam towards my boat, dove under the surface and soon reappeared with some sticks in his mouth. These were brought back to the lodge and quickly put to use on his roof repair project...

I turned around here and began heading downriver. On the way, I encountered this small duck/duckling...

His most notable feature was a whitish bill with a black stripe on it. He also spent quite a bit of time underwater. My uneducated guess would be a young ring-necked duck?
Other wildlife observed today were red-winged blackbirds, swallows, wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese, musquash, large and small turtles, and many great blue herons.
Entering Fairhaven Bay required some grass paddling...

I guess this is how the river earned its Native American name, Musketaquid, which is said to mean "grass grown river". With the now shallower depths, the long grass, rooted to the riverbed, is visible as it leans downriver with the current.
The sky was much improved as I approached Heath's Bridge...

Paddling under the bridge I counted 7 fishermen casting from the shore there.
After passing under the Route 2 bridge, I found two orphaned canoe paddles perched on some rocks and returned them to the nearby canoe livery.
At my takeout location my trash count for the day was 14...

Of these, 7 were recyclable (4 redeemable) and 7 were misc. trash such as monofilament fishing line, styrofoam, paper plates etc. My YTD total stands at 2177.
Musical accompaniment was provided by The Pat Metheny Group's Last Train Home, and Kevin Welch's Early Summer Rain which opens with "I dream with my eyes open, I see with my eyes closed..."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

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

Driving north from Framingham this morning, following my early morning stint at work, I could see nothing but blue skies ahead as the earlier cloud cover retreated to the south. Shortly thereafter my kayak and I were heading upstream on the Sudbury River and the clouds can be seen in the distance. Not too far from where I launched at the South Bridge (Rt. 62), I came upon this tree bearing a rather large beaver notch. Looks as if the beaver is enjoying this tree and wants to prolong his dining experience...

Trash was spotty at first and most of it was stuff that only recently emerged as water levels dropped. I reached Heath's Bridge with a baker's dozen but after 3 short forays ashore, on either side of Heath's Bridge, my count had soared to 76. This year's shore-fishing season is well underway and it appears the group that fishes at this location prefers to throw their trash at their feet.
Once underway again, I was surprised to find 3 pieces of trash at Martha's Point. Usually this area is spotless.
A little after high noon, I reached Fairhaven Bay was it was all mine for the taking...

Passed across the bay with a nice breeze at my back and before I knew it, I was landing my boat at Lee's Bridge. This made a nice spot to have everyone disembark for a group photo...

Then, once they were all stowed and comfy again, I began the trip back downriver.
Picked up another 3 bait tubs and the cover to someone's catalytic converter on the way back.
Wildlife observed today were red-tailed hawks, red-winged blackbirds, tree swallows, cardinals, a kingbird, mallards, and two large snapping turtles swimming just below the surface.
My trash count for the day was 86. Of these 21 were recyclable (9 redeemable) and 65 were misc. rubbish consisting of plastic bags, styrofoam bait tubs, and several wads of monofilament fishing line. My YTD total stands at 2163.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Upper Concord River - Egg Rock to Ball's Hill

Today, I was fortunate enough to greet the month of June in proper fashion on the Concord River, during a mid-day trash patrol.
However, the day and month actually started off in a bit of a strange way, when on my way to work, I came upon this couple out for a little early morning window-shopping...

After work, I launched into the lower Sudbury River and paddled to Egg Rock and the junction with the Assabet and Concord Rivers. Rounding the point of land near the Calf Pasture I came upon the day's first trash, left by some shore fishermen...

It's hard to understand how someone could leave a mess like this when there are 2 trash barrels in the immediate vicinity. Monofilament fishing line retrieved from here was deposited in the nearly full receptacle located downriver at Great Meadows landing...

Also at the Calf Pasture shore today was this ghost ship...

This boat had been completely stripped and appeared to be only beached and not tied- off to anything.
Between Lowell Road and the Old North Bridge a Baltimore oriole was seen. Hopefully this one's bright coloring will reveal him amidst the greenery...

Canada geese and their goslings were also abundant today and were practicing staying in formation...

In addition to the geese and orioles were blue herons, a cardinal, a kingbird, robins, and a red-tailed hawk being mobbed by smaller birds.
Just downstream of Ball's Hill I came to the point where the river runs wide and straight towards Bedford...

A fisherman arriving at this point from downstream told me of his only catch so far, a northern pike. As I turned around and headed back upstream, it appeared he did the same and headed back downstream.
The weather today was absolutely splendiferous and the many folks taking in the Old North Bridge area looked pleased to be visiting it on such a perfect day!
Arriving at my takeout location, my count for the day was 43 pieces of trash. Of these, 36 were recyclable (27 redeemable) and the remaining 7 were misc. rubbish...

My YTD total stands at 2077.