Thursday, December 5, 2019

Winter Right on Cue

Enjoyed seeing the last minutes of bare ground at Egg Rock in Concord this past Sunday afternoon...

...while awaiting the arrival of Old Man Winter.  This year the old fellow preferred arriving per the meteorological calendar (December 1) rather than the traditional date (December 21), and quietly set up shop at 3:15 pm when the first flakes were noted at Nashawtuc Road Bridge...

The Old North Bridge waited for the snow to get more serious...

However, the thin layer of ice in front of the Old Manse boathouse did bear witness to the flakes...

After leaving the river my drive home was a snowy one.  Concord Center was bustling with folks enjoying the town's Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting while the snow provided ideal conditions.

Following two subsequent mornings with snow shoveling on my agenda, I returned yesterday to where winter made landfall...and assessed the changes.

Egg Rock wore its new look well...
...as did its inscription...

Ascended the Assabet as the trees appeared to bow before me...
...and the Leaning Hemlocks looked sugar-coated...


Back on the Concord River the Old North Bridge looked elegant in white...

The ice tongue at the boathouse had expanded...

The Minuteman may have wished for a warmer jacket...

The landing at Great Meadows...

A riverside home I've long envied needed only some smoke arising from its chimney...

Finally, when it was time to turnaround and head back upriver...a ruckus arose in the woods upon the arrival of this guy...
...who quickly resumed work on his latest project.  Possibly, further into winter, this soon-to-be oblong opening will house a cluster of eggs.

I left the river with a little more appreciation for Old Man Winter's artistic capabilities...
...especially when viewed from the river.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Two Day Spell


Following last Sunday's rainstorm we were gifted with two beautiful late November days.  On Monday my hope was that thanks to Sunday's rain there'd be enough water for gaining entry to Heard Pond from the Sudbury River.  After finding the Route 20 boat launch closed due to some bridge work, I launched at River Rd. in Wayland on a fast warming morning.  Reaching the spot on the river where a winding route to the pond begins, a small beaver dam there required a slide-over.
Finding my way to the pond resulted in considerable contact with shrubbery which was of a more intimate nature than desired.  Eventually, I found myself in Heard Pond (opening photo).
Some other photos:



Returned to the river via the same route.  Thanks to whoever provided this trail marker...
...it definitely helped.

Once back on the river I headed upstream to the ridge that separates the two bodies of water.  There whiling away the afternoon before the new moon were two white-tail deer...a doe and a buck...
...note the buck's ears peeking over the top of the ridge to the left.

The doe stayed put for awhile...

The buck seemed indifferent to my presence and went about grazing, perhaps knowing he was just about invisible...

Some trash rounded up...
...before it could reach the Merrimack River.

The next day, Tuesday, promised to be warmer still...so I headed west to the Millers River in Orange.

The view from within the culvert under the Pan Am Southern railroad...

Still some iced-over backwaters...

A small campsite near one of the Millers River Blue Trail Paddle stops...

An almost submerged Rowlandson Rock...

The railroad bridge beyond the rock...
...shows that even rust looks good in the sunlight.

Returning to Orange on an afternoon that, while I hated to see it end...
...I'll certainly be thankful for on Thursday.

Some trash gathered up...
...before it could reach the Connecticut River.

Friday, November 22, 2019

An Egg Rock Eagle

Took advantage of some relatively mild conditions today and paddled the Assabet River between Egg Rock and Westvale.  Water level at the inscribed stone looked adequate.  After going about a half mile or so I encountered a mature bald eagle in a tree near Dove Rock...

He moved to another perch in a taller tree just above Willow Island...
...from where he watched me paddle past.

I continued upriver to Concord Junction where a commuter train crossed over the Assabet...

Just upstream from the bridge is a relatively new Public Boat Landing/Picnic Area on the river's east shore...

A light rain began falling after I passed under the Pine Street Bridge and became steadier as I reached my turnaround point in Westvale.  Heading back downriver I wondered if I'd see the eagle again. 

Once I passed Dove Rock he came into view briefly before taking flight and disappearing further downriver...
 
I began wondering whether eagles were around these parts back in Henry David Thoreau's time.  He often mentioned hawks and fish hawks (osprey), but I don't recall him writing of eagles in his Concord surroundings.  As I approached the Assabet's confluence with the Sudbury River it occurred to me how great it would be if the eagle was now perched in the Egg Rock area...and much to my surprise he was...
Note the eagle in the top left of the photo.  Here he is zoomed...

Suspect he had a duck dinner on his mind.  A cup of hot cocoa was on mine.

Some trash, of a mostly plastic nature, removed from the river...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Assabet's Portal Open Again

When I approached the box culvert (pictured above) last week workers were engaged in trying to clear a blockage which had effectively dammed Fort Meadow Brook.  Yesterday, in order to satisfy my curiosity and find out if the workers were successful, I launched into the Assabet River a mile or so downriver...
...and headed upstream. 

Along the way a solitary "young coot" greeted me...
...and another more stoic fellow served as a reminder that hunting season is underway...

Upon finding the workers had achieved complete success in clearing the culvert, I paddled on through and into Fort Meadow Brook.  A short way into the brook I passed the decorated lodge of the culprits who may have blocked the culvert in the first place...

The grass showed how high the water reached during the time the culvert was blocked and also some rather large pieces of timber which I suspected floated down from the old railroad trestle another tenth of mile up the brook...
Water must have been deep to move the timbers this far.

Upon reaching the trestle I found it had been destroyed by fire...

This is how it looked on March 14 of this year...
Back then it was in rough shape but still basically intact.

Yesterday, not so much...
Maybe this is what's meant when folks say "there's no there there"

According to information found in the Boston and Maine Railroad Historical Society's book The Central Mass. :  the trestle once supported trains traveling between Boston and Northampton...a distance of 104 miles.  The last train to pass over the trestle, a local freight, did so on June 19, 1980.

Also seen along the Assabet yesterday were a red-tailed hawk...
...and what I think is a broad-winged hawk...
...and then as I approached Crow Island an eagle flew overhead...
...and after rounding the next bend I found myself in the presence of a pair of mature bald eagles...
...on the Assabet River in Stow, Massachusetts.  Never thought I'd see such a thing so close to home.

These two eagles kept an eye on me as I paddled past them twice.  At one point one of them issued a loud and high-pitched call though neither of them moved.  I believe the lower eagle is the same one I saw last week and appears to be the more grizzled and senior of the two.

Some trash gathered up along my route...