Saturday, April 30, 2011

Run of the Charles 2011 Dedham to Brighton

Today the Charles River was full of canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards participating in the 2011 Run of the Charles (ROTC) hosted by the Charles River Watershed Association.  All boats and boards were being paddled and sometimes portaged into a cool headwind.  The sun was pretty much a no-show.
Since there wasn't time for taking photos, I'm using a file photo from earlier this week.  Unlike the day I took the photo of Echo Bridge, today I would continue downriver and paddle beneath it.
As a trash patrol, today was a bust.  It's not that there wasn't trash.  There just wasn't time to stop and pick it up.  A token plastic waterbottle and beer can from Riverdale Park rode home in my car's trunk. 
Wildlife encounters consisted of a brief flying charge from a territorial Canada goose and seeing 2 trees hosting small groups of cormorants.  While paddling alongside Nonantum Road, a black-crowned night heron was seen watching the procession.
Hopefully, folks out doing their Saturday errands will forgive the traffic delays caused by portaging boats.  Having grown up in the city of Waltham, it still seems strange to me that all traffic on Moody Street would come to a stop, thus allowing this old coot to wheel his boat across the road, even if it is just one day a year.  Never could have envisioned that back when I was a fifteen year old Waltham kid!  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Assabet River - White Pond Rd. to Upstream of Lake Boon Outlet & Back

This morning's paddle/trash patrol was on the Assabet River in Maynard and Stow.  I launched at White Pond Road (Russell's Bridge) and patrolled the river up to the scent mounds (pictured at left) about a half mile above the outlet from Lake Boon.  I believe the scent mounds were created by either beavers or river otters as I have seen both in this area. 
Today still had a summerlike feel even though temperatures were about 10 degrees lower than yesterday.  Winds were a bit on the blustery side and they provided a nice tail-wind on the return trip.
Wildlife seen today were red-winged blackbirds, nesting Canada geese, nesting mute swans, tree swallows, an osprey, mallards, wood ducks, and turtles.
Trash wasn't too bad with most of it being stuff that had been in the river for quite a long while.  The day's catch posed at my turnaround point...
The haul totalled 47 pieces and the usual suspects were rounded-up: 24 recyclable containers (7 redeemable) and 23 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, nip bottles, an old doll, and a duck decoy full of water with only its tail breaking the surface.  My YTD total stands at 2304.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Charles River - Riverdale Park to Hemlock Gorge & Back

This coming Saturday, the Charles River Watershed Association will be conducting the 29th edition of its Run of the Charles Canoe & Kayak Race (ROTC).  Since time is running short for scouting sections of the course, I decided to paddle the first 5 miles of the 19-mile event which starts at Riverdale Park in Dedham and finishes at Artesani Park in Brighton.   At the same time, a trash patrol was conducted with hopes that any good karma created might come in handy during Saturday's multiple portages.
The weather was warm, so warm, in fact, that it felt like summertime.
After leaving the area of Riverdale Park, the river widens quite a bit and looks more like a lake or pond (view at left).

The trip downriver was a smooth one with only one unusual thing catching my attention.  It was this large pile of stacked wood that appears to be leaning towards the river....
Almost looks like someone is getting ready for an old fashioned 'Log Drive'.  Hopefully, not on Saturday!

It was 'high noon' when I arrived at the Silk Mill Dam in Newton Upper Falls.  My boat and I landed on river left and I walked down the portage trail into Hemlock Gorge.  The view looking upriver from the gorge to the dam...
   Looking downriver Echo Bridge spans the gorge....
Returning to my boat, passengers were provided an opportunity for some leg-stretching while I enjoyed some lunch...
This was the haul from my trip downriver.  It numbered 88 pieces and I thought this might be it for the day, but I was wrong, for another 26 came aboard on the trip upriver.  They missed out on the photo-op, though.
The day's total of 114 brokedown as follows: 59 recyclable containers (14 redeemable) and 55 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam cups, quite a few plastic bags/large sheets of plastic, nip bottles, and 3 empty spray cans.  My YTD total stands at 2257.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ipswich River - West St. in Danvers

Since work had me in Danvers today, I decided to continue exploring the Ipswich River.  The West Street Canoe Landing is less than 5-minutes from where I was working and on this overcast afternoon, I had it all to myself.  After launching into the river, I briefly headed downstream until I found the point where last Friday's exploration ended.   Then I turned around and headed upriver avoiding as many obstacles as possible.  The beavers, in these parts, are a determined bunch and eventually they will probably prevail in blocking the passage of most boats.  Approaching the point where the river passes under Route 114 trash became more plentiful.  There were a couple of odd items today: a large deflated exercise ball and a plastic automotive radiator overflow/fill tank.
Red-winged blackbirds were in abundance today.  Also seen were mallards, Canada geese, and several musquashes.
About 1/3 of a mile above Rt. 114, there is an expanse of open water (pictured at left) which seems fairly rare on this twisting/tree-filled river.  This became my turnaround point and I headed back down to West Street.
There isn't much of a riverbank at the landing and unbeknownst to me, while today's captured trash was disembarking from my boat, another group of passengers was busy stowing away.  The result was 43 pieces of trash removed from the river along with 8 leeches attached to my boat's hull.  Good thing I didn't go in for an after-paddle dip!
Today's haul of 43 pieces...
There were 24 recyclable containers (7 redeemable) and 19 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam, a pail cover, and the aforementioned exercise ball/plastic radiator tank.  My YTD total stands at 2143.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A New Trash Paddler on the Mystic River

A few weeks back I received an email from a young man living near the Mystic River.  He was concerned with the trash he was seeing in the river and was contemplating taking action.  Today I received this update:


My friends and I went on the Mystic River today and I collected some trash in and around the surface of the river that I posted a picture of below. Among the animals we saw were night herons, a red-tail hawk, mallards, a muskrat, and a turkey vulture flying overhead. We are looking forward to maybe helping you if you come to the Mystic when you can. Sincerely, Will
Nice job Will.  The Mystic River looks better tonight thanks to your efforts.  Safe paddling,  Al

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Assabet Shore Patrol near Powder Mill Dam

Yesterday, Earth Day, I was out of town during all of the daylight hours.  Today, however, while driving past the Assabet River in Acton, the trashy site pictured at left caught my eye.  Since I had all the fixins for a trash patrol in my car's trunk and the still denuded brambles allowed access, I decided to conduct an impromptu shore patrol. 
Emerging from the brambles I saw that the amount of trash was more than I could handle with one patrol.  Therefore, I decided to work on gathering up what was within 30 feet of the river's edge.  In short order, I'd filled 2 large contractor's bags, and my 2 dry bags with 340 pieces of flotsam that were laying in wait for a chance to go float-about...
Once finished, I got the satisfaction of seeing this improved view of the same area...
Rather than do a breakdown of this muddy mess, I'll let this photo serve as representative...

My YTD total stands at 2,100.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ipswich River - Middleton/Danvers

With my day's work complete, I decided to honor Earth Day with a short trash patrol on my way home.  The nearest boat launch was Mortalo's Landing on the Ipswich River in Middleton and I don't think I could have asked for a better launch site.  This time I headed upriver which made me a stranger in a strange land for I'd never paddled this stretch of the Ipswich River.  Pushing up and over a beaver dam brought me into an area where the beavers and recent rains have created what appears to be a river of trees.

Wildlife seen today were mallards, wood ducks, Canada geese, a hawk, several musquashes, and one blue heron.

Somewhere in the vicinity of the West Street Canoe Launch, I stopped for a leg-stretching break before heading back downriver.  As I drifted downcurrent I encountered Bill K. and Kirk O. paddling a Wenonah racing canoe in the opposite direction.  Both are members of the Cape Ann Rowing Club and seeing them, in these parts, reminded me that it's a small world.  We later discussed how many plastic Hooksett wastewater disks they've seen in their recent Cape Ann paddles and wondered if the record number of Right Whales in Massachusetts Bay might end up ingesting the floating plastic disks as they feed on plankton.  We hope that isn't the case.  The Hooksett incident also serves to show just how interconnected waterways are when plastic disks released 40 miles up the Merrimack River can end up being found in Wellfleet on Cape Cod and on the beaches of York, Maine.
In regards to the Ipswich, I was impressed by how relatively free of trash this part of the river was.  One nasty find, though, was a floating plastic container with a quart of waste-oil inside.  Back at Mortalo's Landing, my modest haul of 25 pieces posed for a portrait....
There were 10 recyclable containers (2 redeemable) and 15 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, a nip bottle, and an errant hunter's arrow which was stuck in a tussock.
My YTD total stands at 1760.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers

This morning's weather, while not ideal, was still adequate to get in a trash patrol on the lower Sudbury and Assabet Rivers.  Recent rainstorms have resulted in a new crop of trash being sent downriver.  The lower Sudbury River wasn't bad trashwise but when I rounded the bend at Egg Rock things began to pick up.  The photo at left is of the leaning hemlocks on the Assabet and shows how high the water level is.  Much of the trash that floated down the Assabet ended up in amongst the trees on the river's north side.  I recovered 75 pieces of trash within site of Egg Rock.  Quite a few glass bottles today, about a dozen.
Proceeding further upriver on the Assabet, I noted Dove Rock was submerged and Willow Island was awash. 
Wildlife today consisted mostly of Canada geese, mallards, a red-tailed hawk, numerous small woodpeckers, and these inquisitive Muscovy ducks...
At the Calf Pasture, the day's catch of 113 pieces was unloaded, sorted, and packed below deck for the trip back to my launch site.  While assembled hull-side, a group portrait was captured...
The haul brokedown as follows: 64 recyclable containers (7 redeemable), and 49 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam, nip bottles, a spray paint can, a Canon camera, an inflatable ball, and someone's sneaker.  My YTD total stands at 1735.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sudbury River - Rt. 62 to Pantry Brook & Back

This morning's rapidly improving weather made today's trip to Pantry Brook and back an enjoyable one.  The photo at left shows my arrival at the spot where the brook enters the river and looks into the impoundment created by the sheet-piling barrier.  The view is looking into Pantry Brook from the river.  A few more inches of water in the river and I would have been able to paddle over the wall.
On the way upriver I had accumulated a fair amount of trash at the Route 2 overpass.  A brief shore raid just below the highway's westbound lane netted 31 pieces of trash.  Hard to believe that some folks still toss their trash out the car window.

Nearby, this Canada goose seemed to be nesting on top of a beaver lodge...

Reaching Fairhaven Bay, I dined at the Brooke Island Bistro where the P, B, & J was exquisite...

After turning around at Pantry Brook, I made the return trip downriver.  These mute swans provided a brief escort below Lee's Bridge...

The trash patrol concluded with all hands posing for this portrait at the south end of Brooke Island...
Total was 62 pieces of trash and brokedown as follows: 20 recyclable containers (8 redeemable) and 42 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam cups, plastic bags, nip bottles, etc.  My YTD total stands at 1622.  "And I thought over again my small adventures....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2011

The fact that Mrs. Trashpaddler is a school librarian affords me advance notice of literary events such as tomorrow's Poem in Your Pocket Day.  This is the poem I've selected to have both in my pocket and my kayak this week and beyond:

And I thought over again
My small adventures
As with a shore-wind I drifted out
In my kayak
And thought I was in danger,

My fears,
Those small ones
That I thought so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach.

And yet, there is only
One great thing,
To live to see in huts and on journeys
The great day that dawns,
And the light that fills the world.

                Inuit Song


The above poem was found in the book Earth Prayers From Around The World, 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon.  Published by HarperCollins.   

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ipswich River - Ipswich

Early this morning, after having worked the graveyard shift in Danvers, I found myself within easy striking distance of the Ipswich River's saltier stretch.  The weather was still warm, tide a little past high, and my yacht, conveniently, was already on the roof of my car.  Shortly thereafter, the Town Landing in Ipswich was located and it was found to be pretty much deserted.  Once launched, my boat and I ventured downriver towards the back side of Great and Little Necks.  The wind was gusting from the west and that combined with the now outgoing tide convinced me to turn back after coming within sight of Castle Neck's sand dunes near the river's mouth.  This photo was looking towards Castle Hill...

On the trip upriver, I encountered some critters not usually seen on my more inland travels.  Taking the place of Canada geese were these brant...

Rather than great blue herons there were snowy egrets such as this one...

 Curious woodchucks, however, are everywhere...
Back at the Town Landing, I decided to stay on the water a little longer and head upriver to the head of tidewaters.  The opening photo shows the river as one approaches the downtown area.  By this time, either the wind was subsiding or the town's buildings were providing shelter from it.  Around another bend I reached what I suspect is the end of tidal waters...
Here the Ipswich River splits into two sections and on one there appears to be the remains of a small dam. Turned around here and drifted with the current back to the now quite busy Town Landing.  Skiffs were being launched one after another.  My guess, since most of the boaters were wearing hip waders, is that they were clamdiggers heading out to work the approaching low tide.  Fortunately, there was an old set of stairs for me to use in getting my boat out of the river.  Back in the busy parking area, my modest trash haul of 22 pieces posed briefly...
In the bag were 14 recyclable containers (6 redeemable) and 8 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam/paper coffee cups, nip bottles, and plastic/paper bags.  My YTD total stands at 1560. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ipswich River - Middleton

Today's very warm temperatures sure had the feel of summer and on my way home from work, I couldn't pass up this inviting kiosk at Mortalo's Landing in Middleton.  This access to the Ipswich River from Maple St. (Rt. 62) has recently been greatly improved.  An Eagle Scout undertook a project to improve river access at several spots along the river.  The web site for his project is 
I tip my hat to the great job he's done.
Some additional great work was done at the landing by retired stonemason, Vito Mortalo.  Mr. Mortalo built the stone steps leading down to the river.  Take a look at his fine work...
Appropriately, the landing was named in his honor. Mortalo's Landing.

It was almost 4 pm by the time I launched into the river's steady current and headed downstream.  It's always a treat for me to paddle a new stretch of river and the 2 miles I traveled today didn't disappoint. 
There were 2 beaver lodges along the way and closeby to each was a beaver dam to slide over.  This lodge was the more stately of the 2...
The smaller lodge was noted to have a dozen freshwater clamshells on its upriver facing side.
Wildlife included many red-winged blackbirds, mallards, a few wood ducks, Canada geese, and 2 musquashes.

At Peabody Street there was another kiosk and this became my turnaround point...
The trip back to Mortalo's Landing had me paddling against the current and a bit of a breeze in places.  Gave me a chance to work some of the muscles I'll need for the Run of the Charles Canoe/Kayak race later this month.

Back at the landing, my modest trash haul posed briefly on some real "green" grass next to my boat...
The group totalled 30 pieces of trash: 15 recyclable containers (4 redeemable) and 15 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as 2 balloons, plastic bags, some styrofoam bits, and a frisbee.  My YTD total stands at 1538.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Merrimack River - Rounding Up Disks near Southwell Park

This morning I decided to see, first hand, if any of the Super M IFAS plastic media disks, that recently escaped from the Hooksett, NH wasterwater treatment plant, were lingering in the Merrimack River.  Hooksett officials estimate that approximately 4 million disks made it into the Merrimack back on March 6th.  Large numbers were being seen some 40 miles downriver in the Newburyport area.
I launched into the Merrimack in Chelmsford at Southwell Park, directly opposite the intake for the City of Lowell's drinking water treatment plant.  Before even getting in my boat I was rounding up disks at the boat ramp.  Several were placed on my boat's  hatchcover to give folks an idea of their small size...
Once on the water, I headed upriver hugging the western shoreline.  Trash and disks were plentiful all along the riverbank.  After going about 1/2 mile upriver I encountered a large amount of flotsam being held behind a fallen tree trunk.  Going closer to recover some bottles brought quite a few plastic disks into view....

It didn't take long to go from about 500 gathered along the riverbank to my final total of 700 disks.  These combined with 130 pieces of the more usual trash resulted in a grand total of 830 pieces of trash. Back at Southwell Park the whole bunch gathered hullside for this portrait...
The haul brokedown as follows: 71 recyclable containers (4 redeemable), 59 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam etc., and the 700 plastic media disks from Hooksett.  The large amount of beer cans were purchased in NH and as such are not redeemable in Massachusetts.  My YTD total stands at 1508.
I found my kayak to be the ideal vessel to get into the areas where the plastic disks remain trapped behind snags etc.  To the folks at Hooksett, Kruger Inc., Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies I say "Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'.   I'll round up thousands of these birds for ya.  Just pay me a reasonable rate and for that you'll get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Concord River - Egg Rock to Great Meadows Landing & Back

It was a wee bit breezy out on the Concord River this afternoon, but the air is steadily getting warmer and the springtime water levels were ideal for trash recovery amidst the shrubbery.  After launching into the lower Sudbury River, I paddled down to Egg Rock where the Sudbury's flow combines with the Assabet's to form the Concord.
The majority of today's trash was recovered between Egg Rock and the Old North Bridge and it ran the gamut from an underground vault cover warning of poison gas to a child's doll.. 
My turnaround point was at the Great Meadows Landing.
Wildlife encountered were Canada geese, mallards, an osprey, a red-tailed hawk, turtles, and this group of turkeys that were whiling away the afternoon alongside the river...
One other kayaker was seen on the river today as well.

There was a helicopter hovering over the Old North Bridge area.  Not sure why.  After passing under the rude span on my return trip, I did a "Crazy Ivan" so as to snap a quick photo of the bridge...
It's less than 2 weeks till the Patriot's Day commemoration in which the bridge will play a leading role.

Upon reaching the Calf Pasture, everyone disembarked for an impromptu roll call.  The sun actually emerged from behind the clouds for a whole 5 minutes or so!...
There were 91 pieces of trash: 34 recyclable containers (8 redeemable) and 57 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as 12 styrofoam bait tubs, a boat's rubber fender, some kind of composite sheeting, and the aforementioned vault cover and doll.  My YTD total stands at 678.