Friday, July 30, 2010

Terrestrial Patrol on Nashua River Rail Trail

With only a day left in this legislative session, the Nashua River Rail Trail provided this example as to why our state's Bottle Bill needs an update...
Mrs. Trashpaddler and I pedaled our bikes from Ayer to East Pepperell this afternoon and rounded up this bunch of mostly plastic castoffs.
They numbered 15 and only one had  redemption value.
Our Massachusetts Legislature could remedy this situation tomorrow, or not.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cochituate Waters in Wayland and Natick

Exiting work this morning into yet another beautiful summer day, I knew I would soon be in my boat and on the water.  The only question was where.  With the local rivers running short on water, nearby Cochituate became the logical choice.   I launched my boat into the North Pond and paddled across to the spot where Cochituate Brook usually begins.  As the photo below shows, the three pond system isn't donating much of anything towards the Sudbury River...
 Leaving the North Pond, I passed under Rt. 30 into the section between North and Middle Ponds.  Before going under the Mass Pike, I explored a backwater that runs to the east and found the bulk of today's trash haul there.
Returning from my detour I passed into the Middle Lake and paddled across it while enjoying a nice breeze out of the south.  The small beach across from the old Carling facility had quite a few boaters enjoying a mid-day swim.  I continued to the South into the pond by that name and reached the small island where 8 cormorants were enjoying a siesta...
On the small island's opposite side, I did the same.  The opening photo was taken at this spot.
Once back onboard my boat, I enjoyed having the breeze help me back to my starting point.  My trash catch had to pose inside a bag lest they be blown away...

The total for the day was 37 pieces of trash.  Of these 18 were recyclable containers (12 redeemable) and 19 were miscellaneous rubbish such as coffee cups and plastic bags.  YTD total stands at 3702.

I removed most of the Sudbury River bottom stain from the milk bottle recovered on Monday.  Today, it posed for a photo...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sudbury River - River Rd. to Indian Pt. and Back

Late this morning, under blue skies dotted with puffy white clouds I trash paddled a section of the Sudbury River in Wayland.  Compared to all the hot weather we've been having, today almost had the feel of autumn with a busy wind out of the northwest..
After passing under Rt. 20 and the old railroad trestle, I came upon a new river entry spot for Wash Brook...  Perhaps the brook's usual route through the culvert under the RR embankment, located to the west, is blocked. 
Before reaching this spot, I had stopped at the Rt. 20 boat launch and saw this oveflowing trash barrel located only 25 feet from the river...
Folks kept on depositing trash even though the barrel was full.  I'm not sure who owns the barrel but hopefully they'll be by soon to empty or remove it.  I picked up the stuff that had blown onto the ground and removed the lightest trash from above the barrel's top.  This is probably a good example of how trash often gets into a waterbody from dumpsters and other trash containers without adequate covers.
The trash I captured here was fairly new whereas the rest of what I saw today had been under water for quite some time.  One container was an old Sterling Farms Milk Co., Jamaica Plain 1-quart bottle.  It was the type that had the paper/wax seal that the milkman used to deliver in bygone days.  Aside from some staining it was perfectly intact.
The only other boat seen today was a small power boat carrying a fisherman who reported the fishing was great!  He'd caught several good sized bass and also several pickerel.  The reason for such good fishing, as he explained it, was because the the fish are confined to a much smaller area due to the low water levels.  Great blue herons were also enjoying this situation.  Other wildlife seen today were belted kingfishers, numerous killdeer, musquashes, several good-sized snapping turtles, loads of painted turtles, and a lone cormorant standing on the shore as if he were a heron.
Reaching my takeout location my boat was unloaded onto the small beach...
Today's catch was 136 pieces of trash.  The breakdown: 76 recyclable containers (26 redeemable) and 60 pieces of misc. rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, and a large sheet of what looks like silt fence.  My YTD total stands at 3665.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Worthless Trash or Worthy of Redemption?

This week, the fate of thousands of plastic bottles like this one hang in the balance...
The Massachusetts Legislature has before it a bill that would update the original Bottle Bill enacted in 1983.   
Under that bill the only beverage containers worthy of redemption were beer, malt, carbonated soft drinks and mineral water.  Over the ensuing 27 years the Bottle Bill has never been updated to allow for the changes in people's thirst quenching habits.
However, if the Earth should shake a bit and the updated bill is passed, redemption will be offered for non-carbonated beverage containers such as flavored and unflavored water, vitamin water, and other water beverages, tea, sport drinks, and isotonic drinks.  The proposed changes can be seen at this Sierra Club link.
So, once again, the clock is ticking on a legislative session scheduled to end on July 31.  If you care about this issue, as I do, please inform your State Representative/State Senator of your support for the updated bill, S1480.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers

 Mrs. Trashpaddler and I got in a late day trash patrol on the lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers today.  Water levels are still low despite recent thunderstorms.  Reaching Willow Island required propelling ourselves across a sandbar or two.
Purple loosestrife are now in bloom and we saw our first Cardinal flowers of the season.
As we passed under this sentry we noted he was too busy with personal grooming to pay us much heed...
The red-tailed hawk near the Concord DPW yard was quite vocal, as usual. 
On the return trip, thanks to approaching the shore for a bait tub, 2 deer were seen browsing near Egg Rock.
The sun had dipped below the treetops when we returned to our launch location.  The trash count was a modest 19.  Of these 16 were recyclable (6 redeemable) and 3 were misc. rubbish.  Combining today's catch with my 'Lucky 7' from the Blackburn Challenge brought my YTD total to 3529.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blackburn Challenge 2010 - 'Round Cape Ann by Oar or Paddle

Driving into Gloucester on Friday afternoon, I decided to stop and pay my respects to Gloucester's legendary man of the sea, Howard Blackburn.  Upon entering Beechbrook cemetery off of Essex Avenue, I first located the Fishermen's Rest section which is very near the entrance.
Blackburn's gravestone is simple just as all the others in this section are, and that is how he wished it to be.  Judging from the stones laid atop his marker, it appears he has had other recent visitors... 

Just to the right of his grave is a stone tablet with the following engraved:
Many an angry sea they fought
Their lives and vessels to save
Their courage won what they sought
An escape from a watery grave.

The Blackburn Challenge, named in his honor, requires participants to self-propel their vessels the roughly 20 miles around Cape Ann. 
So, early on Saturday morning, I and about 300 other rowers and paddlers picked up the gauntlet and made our way to the Annisquam River starting line.  This was the view from the starting line for all forward-looking paddlers...

Rowers, of course, would see things a little differently!

I suspect Howard Blackburn would have been most pleased to see this young man rowing a traditional banks dory...

It was in a similar dory that Blackburn rowed some 60 miles to refuge in 1883.  He did it during a 5-day ordeal in mid-winter without gloves and as a consequence lost most of his fingers and toes to frostbite.
Yesterday's challenge takers had things considerably easier, and enjoyed classic New England summertime conditions.  It was a little on the warm side for the first half of the event and, just when I began to wilt, I rounded Emerson Point and was revived by a delightful southwest breeze and a bit livelier seas for the second half of the course.  A half day's work brought my boat's bow up onto the beach just in time for a cold draft beer and tasty lunch.  A tip of the hat to the event's organizers for another outstanding job!

Particularly inspiring to this paddler was soon-to-be 80-year old Dick Wheeler's conquering of the course.  Dick will be hosting the Bird Island Challenge next month in Wareham, MA.

Making the trip with me yesterday were 7 errant plastic/aluminum containers rounded up between the launch site and starting line.  Also along for the trip was a copy of Joe Garland's book, Lone Voyager which tells the story of Blackburn's remarkable life. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Spencer Brook and Back

After a very busy and hot work week, an early morning trash patrol on the lower Assabet River provided just the tonic I needed.  Water levels were some of the lowest I've seen.  Dodge Rock was standing extra tall as the photo at left attests.
Almost immediately after launching at Lowell Road in Concord and just across from Egg Rock, I came upon an area where one party of shore fishermen had left 30 pieces of trash right at their feet...
A trash barrel is located only 50 feet away.  It's hard for me to understand how anyone could be that lazy.

With water levels so low, there is considerably more terra firma than usual, mostly in the form of sand and gravel bars such as the one pictured here...
Mickey Mouse had been lying face down on the bottom of the river until today.

Spencer Brook was barely a trickle.  Only turtles and crayfish would be ascending it today...
A little ways above Spencer Brook, the Reformatory Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad used to cross the river on a trestle bridge, the piers of which can be seen jutting above the surface of the water...
This rail line was abandoned in 1925 back when steam powered locomotives ruled the land.

On the way back downriver, this old tree trunk seemed to be saying "On the other hand, perhaps you should head that way..."

The day's catch of 72 pieces of trash posed on the beach under another Reformatory Branch bridge site on the Sudbury River, near Egg Rock...
The breakdown was: 24 recyclable containers (8 redeemable) and 50 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam bait tubs, old dolls, a Dodge wheel cover, a spray can of laundry starch, and a few nip bottles.  YTD total stands at 3503.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lower Sudbury and Upper Concord Rivers

On what is typically one of the more quiet mornings of the year, Mrs. Trashpaddler and I enjoyed a pleasant trash patrol of the lower Sudbury and upper Concord rivers.  At the Old North Bridge, we noted the "Minute Man" statue to be standing at the ready.
Near Saw Mill Brook, we encountered three guys fishing from a small power boat.  We watched as one of them almost landed what looked to be either a pickerel or a pike.
After turning around near Ball's Hill we began heading back upriver. At a point about a half mile below Flint's Bridge, we watched as a fish hawk (aka osprey) soared up into a tree with a freshly caught fish in his talons...
Other wildlife seen today were Canada geese, ducks, herons, musquashes, turtles, and quite a few grey squirrels.
Trash today was modest with a total of 23 pieces recovered from the river...
Our haul brokedown as follows: 14 recyclable containers (9 redeemable) and 9 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as bait tubs and plastic bags.  YTD total stands at 3431.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rockport Gunkholing

On this spectacular July the Fourth, Mrs. Trashpaddler and I visited the coastal village of Rockport and paddled its rocky shores.  As the photo at left shows, the harbor was a little busier than usual.  Many of the sailboats were festooned with nautical flags.  The best boatname of the day was on this humble craft...
Once away from the confines of the harbor, we made landfall at one of our favorite coves...
With the right tide conditions, like we had today, this makes a nice spot for a swim and picnic.
Back onboard our boats we ventured out into Sandy Bay...
On our trip back to our launch site, we came across this young harbor seal at Bearskin Neck...
Not sure if it was injured or perhaps just taking a mid-day nap in preparation for the festivities scheduled for later in the day.
Trash recovered today consisted of only 1 empty bud bottle and 1 empty coke bottle.  Not worthy of a photograph.  However, this pile of old pallets assembled by the town's DPW was certainly worth a photo...
Rockport's July 4th tradition is for a late day parade to terminate near this pile and then once darkness has settled in, the Fire Dept. will put the flame to it for a grand bonfire.  Each year there is a different structure on the top of the pile.  Some years it's a small wooden boat.  This year it looks a bit like a privy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ipswich River - Topsfield

This afternoon, upon finishing a work assignment near the Ipswich River, I decided to experience paddling some of its water's for my first time. 
The plan was to launch into the river at Rt. 97 in Topsfield and paddle downstream into the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary.  The photo at left is the Route 97 bridge and was taken on my return trip upriver.
Not too far from the launch site, I paddled into an old canal bed that stretched straight as an arrow for several thousand feet in an easterly direction.  The left bank had the look of a tow-path.
Returning to the Ipswich proper, it is narrow and winding with numerous downed trees partially blocking the channel .  Paddling around one of the many sharp bends, I came upon this musquash making a hurried dash to the water with a mouthful of grass... 
 After passing by Perkins Island this Great Egret was taking in the view from up high...
There were many clumps of these "forget-me-nots" in bloom...
 The river brought me to this landing maintained by Mass Audubon...
The sign advised non-members to paddle about a 1/2 mile further to Colt Island so I paddled about that distance to a point about 1/4 mile past TH 42.  At that point, my path was blocked by some fallen limbs, so I turned around and began paddling back upstream to my starting point.  On the return trip 2 kayaks and 3 canoes were encountered.
Trash had been recovered at the launch site and in the area of a sandbar frequented by shore fishermen.
The haul for the trip was 42 pieces of trash...
The breakdown: 19 recyclable containers (8 redeemable) and 23 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, cardboard packaging, etc.  YTD total stands at 3406.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Speaking of Mishoons

By visiting this link one can get a a look at how native people traveled between present day Cape Cod and the island of Martha's Vineyard, before the arrival of Europeans.