Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Assabet River - Russell's Bridge to Ft. Meadow Brook & Back

With no ice cream being made today by my client, I was left to deal with another kind of ice.  The photo at left shows what greeted me after passing under Russell's Bridge on the Assabet River in Stow, this morning.  I had launched there at about 10 am and found ice extending for about 100 yards. Proceeding upriver would require utilizing my boat as an "icebreaker" and it peformed this task admirably.
Mute swans, mallards, a belted kingfisher, a mink, a blue heron, and a red-tailed hawk were seen while enroute to the site of my midday bivouac, where I enjoyed some lunch...

After lunch I continued upriver passing the humble abodes of beavers and musquashes.  This conical-shaped abode, however, looks to be the work of human hands and may serve as a duckblind...

I turned around at the spot where the Marlborough Branch of the B & M RR used to cross the river near Railroad Ave in Gleasondale Village.  On the way back downriver I decided to probe the area where Fort Meadow Brook enters the river and came upon this 'gateway'...

On the other side I was surprised to find a navigable channel leading into an extensive marsh. Following the brook's winding route for 1/4 of a mile, while listening to "Lark Ascending", brought me to this beaver dam and old railroad trestle...

There was no point in going up and over the beaver dam as the trestle, carrying the rails of the Central Mass Branch of the B & M RR, was completely clogged with debris.  Hoses and pipes had been installed to provide for the brook's passage.  The rail line was abandoned in the 1970s.  Just to the right of the trestle the ground beneath the rails had been washed away.  The area beyond the RR trestle is the large swamp/marsh that can be seen from Rt. 62 near Chestnut Street in Hudson.
Returning to the river I continued my trip downstream and came upon these bright red berries that, surprisingly, hadn't appealed to anyone's appetite...
Back at Russell's Bridge today's trash catch of 44 assembled on the small beach...
There were 26 recyclable containers (13 redeemable) and 18 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as the 5-gallon pail, a shoe, some plastic bags, nip bottles, etc.  My YTD total stands at 6206. 
Of the many songs I enjoyed listening to, while out on the water today, Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" seemed the most appropriate for the last day of November!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Trashpaddling Acquaintances

Sitting by my hot stove, this cold morning, and recalling all of the different creatures I've been priviledged to encounter while trashpaddling, I decided to compile a slideshow of my photographs.  A little music would be a nice addition but until I figure out how to do that, may I suggest "Rockport Sunday" as performed by Tom Rush. 
The gang can be viewed at this link.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yeah, What He Said!

Today, while visiting Paddling.net, I came across the Northern Illinois Paddlers blog and its most recent post by BK Boat N Sled.  It describes what makes paddling such an enjoyable pastime better than anything I've ever seen.  Here is the link to the blog/post.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Concord River - Egg Rock to Buttricks Hill & Back

This morning's rain and cold temperatures gave way to some improvement just in time to allow this year's F.A.T. (Friday after Thanksgiving) Paddle to proceed.  I launched into the lower Sudbury River and paddled down to Egg Rock where the Sudbury joins with the Assabet to form the Concord River.  The North Bridge area was fairly busy as it seemed everyone was 'out and about' working-off yesterday's feasting.  A bit further downstream, this little mink was also 'out and about'...

Other wildlife seen in addition to the mink were numerous pairs of mallards and several blue herons.
Passing the landing at Great Meadows, I thought back to another F.A.T. Paddle several years ago where, at that very spot, a visiting friend's simple act of pulling a soda can from the river got me started on my trashpaddling adventures.
Near the base of Buttricks Hill I stopped for a 'mug up' of hot cocoa.  While sitting there, I saw that the sun was gaining the upper hand and would soon prove near-blinding during my return trip upriver.
By the time I reached Egg Rock, the sun had dropped behind Nashawtuc Hill...
At my takeout location, the day's catch posed in the last bit of daylight...
The total was 38 pieces of trash.  Of these 20 were recyclable containers (13 redeemable) and 18 were miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam cups, bait tubs, plastic bags, etc.  YTD total stands at 6162.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sudbury River - Route 20 to the Power Lines and Back

This morning it was evident that a nice taste of Indian summer was in the offing and it seemed to me the perfect day to trash patrol the Sudbury River in Wayland.  A secondary goal would be trying to break through the blowdown above Heard Pond.  My boat was launched, at the recently  re-done boat ramp where Route 20 crosses the river, and I began paddling upriver into a warm breeze.  Temperatures would rise into the 60's during my patrol and there were occasional peeks of sunshine.
Trash was fairly plentiful along the way and this slowed my upriver progress more than had been anticipated.   Following a stop for lunch at the conservation area landing on river left, I headed past Indian Point till coming upon this tree demonstrating the advantages of being adaptable... 
Approaching the blowdown area, I came upon a large television set.  The good news is someone probably got a new flat-screen television.  The bad news is they weaseled-out of paying a disposal charge for their old set...
This piece of trash will have to wait for another day or perhaps a larger boat than mine.
Finally, I reached the blowdown that has blocked my upriver passage for more than a month...
 This time I came equipped with my hand-saw and after a few cuts, passage to the other side was possible...
Not overly spacious, but just enough room for me.
I continued my upriver patrol as far as the power lines (opening photo) and turned around for the trip downstream. 
Wildlife seen today were numerous ducks, several blue herons, one hawk, and a couple of hardy turtles.
Once back at the boat launch, the day's catch assembled alongside my boat's hull...
There were 93 pieces of trash and they brokedown as follows: 46 recyclable containers (13 redeemable) and 47 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam cups, bait tubs, fishing line, tennis balls, empty spray paint cans, and a tackle box.  The tackle box may be the one someone notified me of having lost in this area.  My YTD total stands at 6124.
There were 2 unusual finds today.  One was an empty can of Sabotaz 80 paint for "graffiti artists".  This product is manufactured in Athens, Greece by Cosmoslac. 
The other unusual find was an empty 14 1/2 ounce bottle of Lydia E. Pinkham's Medicine.  A quick search on the web revealed that Lydia made her concoctions specifically for women starting around 1876 in Lynn, Massachusetts.  One of her slogans was "A Baby in Every Bottle".  The business ran into the 1960's.
With the "Beaver Moon" now upon us, I'm reminded that the next 3 full moons are the toughest with names like "Cold", "Wolf" and "Snow".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Update to Thoreau School's Outdoor Classroom Visit

Since visiting Thoreau School's outdoor classroom last Thursday, teacher Susan Erickson provided me with a link to the blog she and her students have created.   It is titled, appropriately enough, "Take Me To The River"  and includes journal entries written by students while spending time in their outdoor classroom.
Anyone wishing to see how the students are responding to this unique experience need only visit "Take Me To The River" and read some of their work.  I suspect Mr. Thoreau himself would be pleased!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Assabet River - Thoreau School's Outdoor Classroom

Today's trash patrol was a little different in that, at its conclusion, I was able to share the results with 4th grade teacher Susan Erickson and her students.  The setting for our rendezvous was the outdoor classroom that Susan played a pivotal role in creating.  It was nice to see the students writing in  their journals as I approached the site from upriver.  Reaching the riverbank, I threw my boat's painter up to the students and with some "heave", "ho" chanting, they helped pull it up onto the bank and into their unique classroom.  The day's catch was then unloaded and the students got to see a fairly typical haul gathered from patrolling a half mile section of the Assabet River.  Some of today's trash was recovered during an unscheduled portage necessitated by last night's windstorm having blown down a large tree across the river.  The blowdown is seen in the opening photo and is just a little upstream from Pine Street.  After completing the portage, I patrolled the river up to another, older blowdown near Westvale... 
I might have been able to paddle through a small opening on river right, but thanks to yesterday's heavy rains there was a good flow chugging through the very narrow opening.  Any attempt would have to be all or nothing as backing out would not be an option.  So, the section between here and Damondale will be left for another day. 
On the trip downriver to the Thoreau School my brakes got a good workout.
Back at the outdoor classroom, the students were aware that my year-to-date count was 5990, and I'm happy to report the 6,000 mark was surpassed.  Pictured below are the 41 refugees rounded up today...  
There were 16 recyclable containers (2 redeemable) and 25 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, pieces of styrofoam, a set of bicycle training wheels, and a soccer ball that escaped before being photographed.  My YTD total stands at 6031.
I appreciated the opportunity to share in the students outdoor classroom experience, and enjoyed trying to answer their many good questions about trashpaddling.  I left very inspired by their appreciation for the river running behind their school. Students and teacher are pictured leaving for their next class.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Thoreau School & Back

Today's trash patrol of the Assabet River actually started in the lower Sudbury River.  With temperatures in the 30's at my launching, I was glad to have a thermos of hot cocoa onboard.  By the time I arrived at Egg Rock, 10 pieces of trash had been recovered and the abundant sunshine was beginning to warm things up.
Upon entering the Assabet River I was greeted by these 2 stoic blue herons...

They were only about 25 yards apart but it appeared as if they were ignoring each other following a spat.
I paddled upriver passing the headless coyote on Willow Island...

Then past Spencer Brook and Nashoba Brook.  A little above Nashoba Brook a large tree had fallen across the river.  I almost turned around, but approaching a little closer, saw that someone had cut enough limbs to allow adequate room for passage.  Similar work had been done between the MBTA Commuter Rail bridge and Route 62 as well some cutting near the Car Wash.  At Pine Street the combination of shallow water and a swift current required a determined effort to propel my boat further upstream.  The obstacles became a little more frequent in the stretch above Pine Street.  Near the Thoreau School, a sizable tree had blown down and, once again, someone had done a good bit of work in cutting out a passageway.  This blowdown is shown in the opening photo.  The shallow area just upstream of it became my hot cocoa break/turnaround point and I began my trip downriver.  The clouds were beginning to win the battle at this point and the days warmth began to slip away.
On the trip down, I passed the same Muscovy ducks and Canada geese I encountered on the way up.  Near the reformatory, a good-sized hawk was seen.  The hawk would fly only short distances while I passed and seemed to want to remain in the immediate area.  A belted kingfisher put in a brief appearance by Spencer Brook.
Once back ashore, 78 pieces of trash were placed alongside my boat's hull...

There were 31 recyclable containers (4 redeemable) and 47 pieces of miscellaneous trash consisting of plastic bags, styrofoam cups, bait tubs, plastic balls, nip bottles, and a toy horse.  My YTD total stands at 5990.  One odd find today was a bottle of Nashoba blended whiskey named for the neighborhood a little to the west.

Thanks to some much appreciated help from the Town of Stow Highway Department the tire and compressor recovered last Friday have now been properly disposed of and my car's trunk is spacious, once again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Assabet River - Sudbury Rd. to Gleasondale & Back

Late this morning I launched my kayak into the Assabet River at Whitman's Crossing (Sudbury Rd.) in Stow after stepping over a refrigeration compressor someone had left at the water's edge.  As I paddled upriver I began to see a large group of bicyclists following the course of the old railroad bed that runs along the river.  This section of rail line was once part of the Boston and Maine Railroad's Marlborough Branch and was abandoned prior to WW II.  It branched off from the Fitchburg line in South Acton and ran to its terminus in Marlborough.  Since we were headed in the same direction I suspected I would encounter them when they reached the end of the line, pictured here... 
A bridge would need to be constructed at this point and also at another river crossing just before Gleasondale Village.  The bicyclists encountered today were associated with the Assabet River Rail Trail organization and are hoping to see the abandoned rail grade become connected with the already completed section of rail trail in Hudson & Marlborough.  Hopefully, it will someday provide access to a very scenic section of Stow. 
Proceeding upriver, I entered one of the many backwaters and came upon this remnant from the early morning's cold temperatures...
 Ice!!!  The first I've seen form on the water's surface this season.  Not to my liking!
Continuing upriver, I passed this duck blind which was unoccupied at the present time...
Earlier this morning it may have been in use.  Not far from here I encountered a fellow in a motorized canoe wearing camouflage and was glad to have brought my bright orange gloves to avoid any confusion.
Between this area and Gleasondale, I came upon something that is never a good sight: a snow shovel laying on the riverbank.  Here I am, happy to be out on the river on such a beautiful day and I encounter first a refrigeration compressor, then ice, and finally a snow shovel.  The theme of the day is not making me happy.
Returning from Gleasondale, I recovered an automotive tire that was standing on edge as if it had rolled to a stop. 
Back at Sudbury Rd., I unloaded the day's catch...
There were 47 pieces of trash.  Of these 27 were recyclable containers (1 redeemable) and 20 were miscellaneous rubbish such as the compressor, tire, snow shovel, styrofoam cups, plastic bags, nip bottles, etc.  YTD total is 5912. 
I hemmed and hawed over how to handle the compressor.  Finally, deciding that leaving it by the river was something I just couldn't do.  Now, it and the tire reside in my car's trunk until I can find an entity willing to take them the last step towards proper disposal.  Another option, in keeping with the theme of the day, would be to leave them in my trunk as ballast for winter driving.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Heath's Bridge in Concord

Late this afternoon, I returned from a trash patrol to Heath's Bridge in Concord and was able to say "So long" to the last hour of Daylight Savings Time in 2010 as I approached the Route 62 bridge pictured at left.
Skies were on the gray side and temperatures felt more like late November.  Trash was plentiful with most of it being fairly recent.  Between Rt. 62 and Heath's Bridge 27 pieces of trash were recovered.  The area of the bridge itself required 2 forays onto the beach.  One on the downstream side and another upstream.  By the time I left the area, my ship's hold was nearly full.  The shore fishermen that frequent this spot have become adept at hiding all their refuse in the brambles.  Now, with the foliage gone their hide & seek game is over.  The day's haul posed in the last hour of DST 2010...
They numbered 133 and consisted of 56 recyclable containers (37 redeemable) and 77 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as 25 bait tubs, several wads of monofilament fishing line, beer packaging, styrofoam coffee cups, plastic bags, etc.  YTD total stands at 5865.

Earlier today, I stopped alongside River Street in Acton to get a photo of these 6 automobile tires that recently appeared on the bank of Fort Pond Brook.  I drive past this spot frequently and never noticed these tires before today.  Somehow, I doubt the beaver that lives in the lodge behind the tires brought them home to munch on.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Assabet River - Upstream from Cox Street

A little while back I was contacted through this blog by a fellow concerned citizen, J.R. Killigrew, who desired to join forces with me on one of my upcoming trash patrols.  Late this morning, just as the rain was letting up, we did just that and jointly trash patrolled a section of the Assabet River in Hudson.  We launched our boats at Cox Street and began paddling upriver against a steady current bolstered by the recent 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Working both sides of the river simultaneously, it didn't take long for us to gather-up an eclectic mix of trash.
J.R. proved to be an adept trash paddler and seemed right at home on the water as this picture shows...
 It's good to see young people such as J.R. eager to pitch-in with river cleanups.
J.R. would later put together this video from this trash patrol...

The trash pictured below was recovered from our joint patrol of a 3/4 mile section of river. 

The total was 86 pieces of trash and the haul broke down as follows: 38 recyclable containers (8 redeemable) and 48 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as a traffic cone, a "Torpedo" plastic sled, some styrofoam items, and numerous plastic bags snagged in the brambles.  One apothecary bottle from Toomey's Pharmacy in Hudson was found.  YTD total 5732.
Just as I was leaving the launch site, a group of duck hunters were preparing to get in a late day hunt for wood ducks.  They reported having had recent success in taking green-winged teals from the Sudbury River.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sudbury River - Sherman's Bridge to Rt. 27 & Back

Today's trash patrol was truly an impromptu affair resulting from a cancelled afternoon meeting.  So, after completing my morning obligations, I could just drive across the river, go home and catch up on some chores or....I could throw my boat in the river and enjoy some time on the water.  I think you can pretty well guess the outcome.
Though a little cloudy and cool at the start, at least the wind was greatly diminished from what its been the past few days.
Upon launching at Sherman's Bridge and heading upriver, I encountered some folks fishing from the shore with some serious looking gear that gave me the impression they planned to be there for a while.  In fact, when I returned about 3 hours later they were still there and in talking with one of them, Erik, he explained they were fishing for carp and were associated with an organization called Blackstone Carp.  You can learn more about them at this link.  Once on the site, scroll down a little and hit the "Read More" button.  You will see a photo of Erik holding a massive carp he once caught.
While they were fishing, they removed what trash they saw in the area.  Erik explained that their organization believes in practicing good stewardship.  Sure would be nice if more shore fishermen held such values.
Further upriver I encountered another late-season fisherman and he seemed very intent on what he was doing... 
In addition to the blue heron, there was also a pair of soaring red-tailed hawks, and a single osprey. 
Trash was found mostly in the vicinity of the 2 bridges.  However, in about the middle of this section I came across 2 automobile tires.  In order to get the first one onboard, I needed to add what Curley Howard called a "water letta outa".  Once drained of the weighty water, the much lighter tire was fastened to my aft deck.  Reaching my turnaround point at River Rd., the tire was left there until I could drive back to pick it up.  Doing this allowed me to pick up the second tire on my return trip to Sherman's Bridge using the same technique.
The sunshine increased substantially during my trip downriver and soon I reached Sherman's Bridge where the day's catch was dislodged onto dry ground....
They totaled 25 pieces and included 19 recyclable containers (3 redeemable) and 6 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as the 2 tires (only 1 pictured), some styrofoam items, and a 5-gallon plastic pail.  My YTD total stands at 5646.
My hope is that the Wayland DPW will help me with the ultimate disposal for the 2 tires.  Last week, they provided much appreciated help with the disposal of another tire.