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!